The grace of God allowed Josiah to die rather than to see the destruction that would come upon Jerusalem. Imagine if the best you could hope for was just to not live through such horrors?
This is sometimes the way the gospel is presented—as simply a means of escaping the coming terror of hell. But that was never God’s intention in sending His Son to take the judgment we deserved. His plan, from the first breath of creation, was to redeem us as His own and provide us a sanctuary, just as He had in Eden. His plan, the good news of the gospel, was that we would one day “walk with Him in the cool of the day” as Adam and Eve did in the garden. His plan was for us to be in relationship with Him, and that doesn’t wait for our death, it begins right now.
Josiah’s response upon reading the words of God written by Moses was to tear his robes. He mourned for the people who had ignored God’s warnings and for those who would come, who would suffer judgment as a result. He mourned, I’m sure, for his father’s role in leading the people deeper and deeper into sin and rebellion. He mourned for the united kingdom that was already divided, conquered, and so much less than God intended for it to be.
Isn’t that one of the saddest things of all? To see something or someone meant to be so much more failing to reach their potential. It brings to mind wedding promises that end in bitter feuding over children and property, or bright young minds that choose a broken path. Even our nation, declared with such hope for the future as a place where “all men are created equal,” yet never living up to that promise.
Yet God is sovereign. He knew of each failure beforehand.
The wayward Israelites didn’t catch Him by surprise any more than Eve’s conversation with the serpent did. My failures and yours don’t surprise Him either.
Into our failure, He stepped into humanity to provide hope. Into our broken dreams, He speaks life. Into our unmet longing, He pours satisfaction.