When was the time you learned the Word of the Lord and tore your clothes? It doesn’t have to be a literal tearing of your garments, rather it could be the moment of greatest brokenness or understanding in your life that caused you to turn to God and confess Jesus Christ as your Savior. You do have a moment like that – right? Where the conviction of the Holy Spirit is so strong that you know you’re a sinner and must repent of your sins? You have repented – right? Where you’ve seen the wickedness of your life and your eternal fate if you continue walking the path through the world, choosing what you want rather than what God desires for you?
Scripture records such an instance. It made a major difference in the life of the king of Judah and ultimately the people living in the land.
King Josiah had ascended to the throne of Judah after the death of his wicked father, Manasseh. How astounding that this young man turned to the Lord after the example set for him. Manasseh earned the wrath of Yahweh through a series of ever-increasing wicked deeds. The chronicle of Manasseh in 2 Kings 21:1-18 records in brief much of what he did. He built pagan altars in the house of the Lord, engaged in child sacrifice, used sorcery in all his dealings, and caused the people of Judah to turn to foreign gods. This would have involved serious immorality because of the worship of Asherah. His idol was a phallic symbol and deviant sexuality his currency. The amount of innocent blood Manasseh shed filled Jerusalem from one end to the other. (2 Kings 21:16)
Because of the extremes of evil that Manasseh brought, God declared absolute disaster would come upon Jerusalem and Judah. God’s wrath for these abominations would be so great that “the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.” (2 Kings 21:12)
Yet, along came this young boy who had a heart for God. In his first act, he declared the temple should be repaired and that the workmen carrying out the restoration should be trusted with the money given them to do the right thing.
In the process of the work, the Book of the Law was found. You have to think about this. It was found? That means it had been relegated to a dusty place for many years and hadn’t been consulted. This was the Torah – the book of Moses with the narrative of the Exodus and the giving of God’s laws for His people. It would have also included the account of the prophecy to Jeroboam, king of Israel upon the dividing of Israel into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms that we read about in 1 Kings 13:1-2 from about 300 years prior:
And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’”
This centuries-old prophecy specifically named Josiah as king of Judah. Is it any wonder he tore his clothes? This was his point of greatest conviction. Yahweh had spoken and he was the fulfillment of the prophecy. Can you imagine? This is the reason Bible prophecy is so powerful. It shows the omniscience of God and His ability to shape the events of the world. Knowing that, shouldn’t all honor and worship Him?
That’s exactly what Josiah did, and the Lord acknowledged his willing spirit to follow hard after Him, as we see in 2 Kings 22:19:
“… because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord.”
I had walked in my own self-righteousness for well over fifty years. Because I was and am a reader and lover of books, God used that passion to reach me. One day I saw the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins on a bookshelf. I picked up the first book , thought it sounded interesting, and subsequently read it.
Although I had a Bible and might have tried to read parts of it in the past, because of the lack of solid Scriptural preaching in the church where my parents took me, and the absence of salvation in my home, none of the Word of God really stuck. However, emerging from that time when I left home, the one thing that I continually did – despite any conviction of true faith – was to often repeat the Lord’s Prayer before going to sleep. I certainly wasn’t saved during those many years, but God saw that I had a heart for Him.
As a result, He directed my hand and my heart. Upon reading Left Behind I knew – I simply knew – of the truth behind the fiction. It prompted my search for a church for my wife and myself. I didn’t know what I was seeking in a church, other than I had the sense that I’d know it when I found it. And that’s exactly what happened.
What was it about Left Behind that convicted me? The story begins with the pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church and those who subsequently went into those awful seven years. From that truth, I knew that I didn’t want to be left behind. That desire was so strong that it propelled me into the arms of God.
In that headlong rush to find Him, I committed – I literally vowed – that this wasn’t a passing fancy. I promised God that I was in this for the long haul, and I wasn’t messing around.
With His grace, that’s how I’ve approached my life in Christ ever since. I realized that repentance was the absolute necessity to walk with the Lord in forgiveness and righteousness. It’s really the cornerstone of true faith.
This is why I asked at the beginning of this essay: You have repented – right?
Many people think they’re in the faith because they go to church, yet also realize that something is wrong in their walk with God. They experience disquiet in their spirit. It causes them to answer altar call after altar call over the years for salvation. That’s not right. When true repentance occurs and someone becomes truly born-again, this is a one-time event. We’re told during Communion, i.e. the taking of the Lord’s Supper, to examine ourselves. This is, indeed, what we must do.
I want to urge anyone who hasn’t come to Christ with a humble and repentant heart and a desire to make Him Lord of your life, to do so. Seal the deal. Don’t be like those in the Parable of the Sower, where your faith is weak and blows away with the wind.
The times are dark. The Lord is coming back soon. The pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church is real. Many are falling away in apostasy because they’ve never experienced true salvation. They will be left behind. I beg of you: Don’t let that happen to you.