In a transatlantic airliner, as the navigator plots the plane’s projected course, at a certain point he will make a neat dot and draw a tiny circle around it, labeling it PNR.

—Marshall & Manuel, The Light and the Glory (1980)

History, indeed, is not just mechanical. In Jeremiah’s day God worked into history upon the basis of His character, and He continues to do so today.

—Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City (1969)

josiah king of judah

Is God Gracious?

Richard Dawkins finds the God of the Old Testament abhorrent. In The God Delusion (2006), he piles adjective upon adjective—unjust, unforgiving, vindictive, malevolent—to adorn nouns like control-freak and bully. For Dawkins, the Old Testament God is a poor ethical role model and a worse Christian. He lacks grace and mercy.

There is nothing new here. For centuries the enemies of the faith have expressed indignation against the God of the Old Testament. They have questioned His mercy. They have been incensed at His judgments. They have railed against His wrath.

Christian apologists in turn have answered these charges. They have shown that such accusations don’t take seriously God’s claim to be the sole Creator and absolute Owner and Disposer of the universe. They have argued, presuppositionally, that there can, in the nature of things, be no high ground from which such a God could be criticized, if He does exist, and no moral ground at all if He doesn’t: no God, no moral absolutes. They have pointed to God’s self-sacrificial love in Jesus Christ, to Jesus’ own sufferings and death in the place of guilty sinners, to demonstrate the amazing grace and mercy of God.

Our point at present is more modest. We will consider the grace of God in the history of Israel and see why Paul can write that the goodness and forbearance of God ought to lead us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).

A Brief History of Unfaithfulness

Israel’s sins began with the Exodus: God’s people doubted His power, rebelled against His spokesman, and bowed down to a golden calf. When they came to Canaan, they refused to trust God and fight for the Promised Land. For forty years they murmured and rebelled. God sent miraculous judgments, but He spared the nation.

Finally, a new and faithful generation took possession of Canaan. But the succeeding generations repeatedly went a whoring after demons. But each time they repented, God raised up a judge to deliver them. Finally, they demanded a king to take God’s place. God gave them Saul. Saul apostatized. God in grace gave them David.

David’s son Solomon built the Temple, and God came to dwell among His people. But Solomon chased after pagan princesses and pagan idols. In judgment God divided the kingdom, but He didn’t destroy it.

The northern kingdom, Israel, had one wicked king after another. None served God. They all promoted calf worship. The worst, Ahab, introduced Baal worship as well. God raised up Syria and Assyria as scourges to chasten His people. They didn’t repent. Yet God in grace let the kingdom endure, decade after decade. In fact, God stayed His judgment for some 260 years. Finally, God called for Israel’s destruction, and the Assyrian empire obliged.

The southern kingdom, Judah, endured for another 125 years beyond that. Judah had a few godly kings. But most of its kings went after idols sooner or later. God’s chastisement began in earnest in the days of Hezekiah, when the armies of Assyria swarmed across Palestine and shut up the king “like a bird in a cage.” But Hezekiah besought God, and He graciously rescued Jerusalem through a miraculous slaughter. The Assyrian armies withdrew. But when Hezekiah died, he left the throne to his son Manasseh.

The Great Apostate

Manasseh was the worst king Judah ever had. He rebuilt the pagan altars his father had destroyed. He reintroduced Baal worship. He practiced ritual magic and witchcraft. He consulted with a demon. He baptized his son in the fires of Tophet. He set up an Asherah-idol in the Temple before the face of God. Beyond all this, he “shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another,” blood that God would not pardon (2 Kings 21:16; 24:4). Scripture says that he did wickedly “above all that the Amorites did” (v. 21): in other words, he excelled the original inhabitants of the land in idolatry and wickedness.

For this God promised to bring judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem—to wipe Jerusalem as a man wipes a dish clean (v. 13). “I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance,” He said, “and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies” (v. 14). And yet God stayed His hand awhile longer.

There is still a more gracious footnote to this story. In his later years, Manasseh offended his Assyrian overlords. The Assyrians took him among the thorns, bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. In that dark corner of the world, Manasseh turned back to the God of his fathers. Manasseh repented. He sought mercy. God heard him and restored him to his throne. Immediately, Manasseh set about the work of reformation. He tried to undo all of his former wickedness. But time ran out, and he died.

Manasseh was succeeded, briefly, by his son Amon. Amon followed in the first ways of his father (v. 21). His servants assassinated him, and his son Josiah came to the throne.

The Great Reformer

Josiah was the greatest king Judah ever had (2 Kings 22). While he was still a young man, he began to seek the Lord. He broke down the idols and their altars. He desecrated the bones of their priests. He repaired the Temple and in the process recovered the Book of the Law. He wept and rent his clothes when he heard its requirements and sanctions. He then took it upon himself to read the Book aloud to all the people. He renewed Judah’s covenant with Yahweh and swore that he himself would walk before God with all his heart and soul.

Josiah intensified and extended his reforms. He cleansed the Temple, destroyed the abominations that remained within, and got rid of the sodomite prostitutes that served the Asherah pole. He defiled Tophet, the site of Molech worship in the valley of Hinnom (Gehenna), and turned it into a garbage dump. He destroyed the idolatrous shrines that still lingered on from the days of Solomon. And finally, after centuries, he destroyed the golden calf shrine at Bethel. Then he held the greatest Passover to the Lord that Judah had ever seen (ch. 23).

In the light of his vigorous and passionate reforms, the verdict of Scripture is frightening:

Notwithstanding the LORD turned not from the fierceness of his great wrath, wherewith his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked him withal (v. 26).

Manasseh’s reign proved to be Judah’s “point of no return.” Neither Manasseh’s repentance nor all of Josiah’s energetic reforms could save Judah from the fierce wrath of God. Josiah’s reformation only bought Judah a little more time (22:20). Once he died on the battlefield of Megiddo, Judah’s downward spiral into destruction began in earnest (ch. 23—25). But it was still some 23 years before the armies of Babylon leveled the city and carried its people captive.

Point of No Return

Is God compassionate? Doesn’t He forgive? Why didn’t He relent and turn from His wrath when He saw Josiah’s reforms? The answer is simple. They were Josiah’s reforms. He pushed them through by faith, charisma, passion, and force of will. But, by and large, the hearts of the people remained untouched. Oh, they patted themselves on the back for their religious zeal and remembered Josiah fondly once he was gone, but their hearts were still far from God. And this is where the Book of Jeremiah picks up:

. . . Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the LORD (3:10).

We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us: for we have sinned against the LORD our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God (3:25).

Representative repentance and reform can be significant, but they can’t take the place of true revival, of nationwide repentance and heartfelt sorrow for sin. Where there is no such repentance, God’s forbearance will reach its end . . . eventually.


Josiah died at Megiddo—what the Book of Revelation calls Armageddon. Appropriately, his death proved the beginning of the end for the nation of Judah. It was Judah’s Waterloo. But it came after 900 years of grace.

Only God knows the “point of no return” for any particular people or nation. For decades now godly pastors and evangelists have been warning America of the wrath to come. Yet generation after generation, decade after decade, God has withheld that wrath; He has moderated His judgments. We chafe at our declining liberties, at economic decline and depression, at what seems to be an endless series of wars and police actions, but we don’t acknowledge any of this as the hand of God. America endures.

For now.

But God’s patience does have a breaking point. If we don’t repent as a people, we’ll find it. If we do repent, perhaps we will find His grace. Either way, when Christian scholars a thousand years from now write our history, they will certainly say in truth, “God was gracious to America.”

But only God knows what they will say after that.


  • John Brown Posted August 11, 2013 4:13 am

    God was graciou enough to let me solve the Curse of the Zeroes using the Bible after it went unsolved for 150 years by people such as Ripley and Jack Anderson. You know why, the time had come for it being solved and judgement has been passed way back in 1840 because of slavery and then abortion. Unlike the 1st John Brown, I tried to warn my nation without resorting to 1st degree murder and revolt.

    I asked God basically could we avoid this and maybe the warnings were false and I was wrong for warning them about the wrath to come.

    Then II Peter 2:6

    2 Peter 2:6 (KJV)

    6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

    Thankfully I can’t remember the terror from this anymore because it was taken from me.

    ► TQO#214 Dreams from MY father? My 1984 vs. BHO’s fake LFBC

    God passed judgement on Clinton back in 1840 calling himn #43 (evil) just as Bush #43 was humilation and Obama with Satan inside him is #44. Destruction and Civil War is coming and God has been warning people that care to look.


    ► TQO#176 “180,000” the # of oppression and the end of this earth age?

    These pastors that praise Obama for using scripture, after he perverts it, and talk about God telling them a rebirth is coming, do not believe them when they keep talking peace peace peace. Same thing happened with Jerimiah.

    Almost all the republicans except gv perry were warned the past years at great cost to me and even 600 local churches with direct mail of God’s wrath to come after our probation periods were over for Deut 28:12 and Luke 1:36.

    All you have to ask is if someone killed just one of your children by 1st degree murder while sucking their brains out with a vacuum cleaner while they were alive, screaming in agnoy, how would you treat them? Would you hunt them down to the ends of the earth and make them suffer in the worse way for their crime?

    We have filled our borders coast to coast with innocent blood of 40,000,000+ of God’s children and God is going to take out our coasts were most of the Sodom states are. Even then they will probably not return to God and the great turning will be to the false messiah and not YHVH just like they turned to their false messiah Obama.

  • Joe Posted August 12, 2013 11:47 am

    Due to the current administration we are especially in a decline. However we have not reached the PNR yet but it is coming. Either way, to think that America’s decline will bring the antichrist is a bit of ethnocentricity. Many countries, Iraq (Garden of Eden), Iran, Afghanistan where people have been since the beginning of time are absolutely corrupt. The men have sex with each other and little boys (AKA “chai boy”) The women have little or no control of their destiny. They are active or complicit in terrorist activities killing each other by the thousands. They have failed to evolve. The messiah has not returned and America will become much worse a they start to control every aspect of your life in the name of “security.”

    • John Brown Posted August 12, 2013 12:41 pm

      > Either way, to think that America’s decline will bring the antichrist is a bit of ethnocentricity.

      It is the Queen of England that is related to Jesus directly through the blood of the three daughters and it is she that sat over Jacob’s stone that Jerimiah took along with the daughters to Ireland. It is Mary, Jesus’s mother that lived in Glastonbury.

      Deut 28:12 was the Curse and Warning for the USA. When did the state of Israel ever have the ability to lend onto many nations, there were not even that many nations to lend to when she existed 2,000 years ago.

      The USA has to fall to help bring in the new world order, everything is proceeding according to Bible numerics. What you are seeing Obama (aka Prince of Darkness) do in the middle east was already predicted in the Bible.

      Even the creation of Israel in 1947 was predicted back when God planted the 1st fig tree. Get a Companion Bible from a reliable source, written in the 1920s and look in App. #50. You will see it was 1947 years from Adam to the birth of Abraham’s father. 1st fig tree. What happend not even 30 years after the Companion Bible was printed? In 1947 Israel was created the 2nd time (the 2nd fig tree). Man did not cause this to happen, God did. This is why Jesus insisted on you learning the lesson of the figtree.

      If you did, then you would know which Christian nations are referenced by Jacob when giving out his blessings and who the USA is in the Bible from Israel. I would not waste my remaining time or money giving to 2016 presidential campaigns I can tell you that 😀

  • Berean Barg Posted August 20, 2013 10:43 am

    There is a time and there is a place where a person or a nation will reap the whirlwind of the rejection of The Truth (John 14:6).

    Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
    2Thes 2:8-12 NASB

    Rejection of Truth leads to blindness. Blindness leads to dececption and deception leads to separation.

    Remain true to one and only TRUTH.

    And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony,… (testimomny – strongs g3141 μαρτυρία martyria) a testimony that could cost…. ones life. Rev 12:11

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