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.
2 Kings 23:26 (KJV)
Kindled – The preceding verse speaks about Josiah’s devotion to YHVH with all his heart. It likens Josiah to no other king. Josiah is praised for keeping the law and for his love for YHVH… but there is still kindled anger.
Two kings prior, king Manasseh had provoked YHVH to anger, and that anger continued from Manasseh, down through the 2 years of Amon’s rule, and was still present during Josiah’s rule over Judah. We know that the king was a representation of the people themselves. If the king was obedient, the people were as well. If the king was rebellious, the people were rebellious. In this case Josiah was obedient like no other before him… and yet God’s wrath was still set against Judah. So much so was this anger that Josiah went out to fight a battle that wasn’t his and died. His son Jehoahaz became the king and did evil in the sight of God. His 3 month reign ended and then another son became king, Jehoiakim. He too did evil before God, and eventually Judah fell into captivity in Babylon.
The word charah is in the Qal stem and in the perfected aspect. This means that the kindling of God’s anger had already been done – it wasn’t something that was happening. It’s a completed action. I struggle with this. Does this mean that no matter what Josiah did, God’s anger was already kindled and nothing was going to change it? But we read of situation after situation where God’s mind is changed by the questioning or reasoning of man. Take a look at the example of God setting out to destroy Sodom and everyone in it, but Abraham reasons with YHVH to spare it if a number of righteous are found. Or take the example of Moses on Mt. Sinai when YHVH sets out to destroy Israel, and Moses changes his mind by reasoning with Him. And yet here, Josiah’s actions weren’t enough to turn away the wrath of God.
This gets me thinking. Where am I? Am I like Manasseh who continually provokes YHVH to anger? Am I like Josiah who strives to be obedient, but God’s anger is already kindled and there’s nothing I can do to change it? Or is the kindling of anger still happening in which case now is the time to reason with the Creator. Now is the time to build that relationship – to make Him the everything in my life. I’m not sure if His anger is completed, or if it’s still kindling, but I know He is longsuffering that all should repent – and so we reason, we converse with the Almighty. We give Him our time, our thoughts, our hearts, souls, and might in hopes that we may enjoy His mercy before His wrath.