Which sin do you think plagued all the kings of Israel and most of the those in Judah? It’s the same sin that filtered down to the common people of Israel. Even today, our world is overwhelmed by it. And if we’re completely honest, it continues to afflict the Lord’s church today. It’s the sin of unbelief.
Israel’s continuous unbelief caused many, including Moses, to miss the Promised Land. It eventually fractured God’s chosen people into two nations – Israel and Judah. None of Israel’s kings worshipped the One True God and only a few kings of Judah did right in the eyes of the Lord.
Asa and Hezekiah removed idols and their altars, chopped down obscene images made to worship the goddess Asherah, and then burned them all in the Kidron Valley. (1 Kings 15:13 and 2 Chronicles 33:15)
After Josiah read God’s words in the newly discovered Book of the Law, he became passionate about following all that was written. He brought everything out of the Lord’s temple that had been made to worship Baal, Asherah, and the stars of the sky and burned them in the fields of, you guessed it, the Kidron Valley. He burned the Asherah pole in the Kidron Valley, beat it to dust, and threw the dust on the graves of the common people. He also tore down altars made by Manasseh, smashed them, and threw their dust, yes, in the Kidron Valley. (2 Kings 23:4, 6, 12)
What I find so incredible is that the Kidron Valley is exactly where Jesus walked on His way to Gethsemane. All the ashy dust from Israel’s unbelief had no doubt mingled deeply within the soil of the valley. Jesus’ sandals slapped across the Upper Room, down the steps, and around Jerusalem’s wall. Making His way through the Kidron Valley, His feet became coated with that same dust of unbelief. With every step, Jesus’ garments collected the dust. As His hair tossed back and forth in the breeze, it no doubt caught dust particles that hitched a ride to Gethsemane.
Jesus wore the dusty remains of Israel’s sin all the way to the garden of surrender. He knew the sin of unbelief up-close and personal. He knew the religious crowd – the ones who washed their outsides, but did nothing about their dirty insides. He knew there were many who still refused to believe that He was who He said He was, that He could do all He said He could do, and that He could do it for them. As He fell on His face before His Father begging for pardon, bloody sweat mixed with those dusty ashes of unbelief.
It was there, in Gethsemane, where Jesus beautifully displayed His faithful love. He gave up His own will so that He could eventually be raised from the dead so you and I can have zero doubts about our all-powerful, One True God. He wants you to believe that He can do everything He claims, and He can do it for you. You only have to surrender, and let Him do it.
Jesus’ body died on the cross. Yet, His will died in a grieving, dusty, tear-drenched moment of prayerful surrender. I believe Jesus modeled that gut-wrenching prayer to teach us what is most important. God doesn’t care so much about your outsides being clean when you come to Him. He’s not concerned with your religion. He wants you to surrender, believe, and give Him your heart. When He takes control of your heart, your mind, your will, and your emotions, He’ll clean you from the inside out, and you’ll want to stay that way!
Believe, and enter into God’s rest.
“Watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul.”Hebrews 3:12-14, The Message