Prophets don’t just predict the future. In fact, prophets rarely predict the future. They aren’t fortune tellers.
Huldah was not a fortune teller, looking into a crystal ball to predict the future for the nation of Judah. Huldah was a prophet, speaking God’s word into a particular historical situation. Sometimes prophecies aren’t about the future at all, but merely God’s comment on the past or present. Where they are about the future, sometimes prophecies function as promises but sometimes they are warnings. Sometimes they are absolute: “This will happen” but sometimes they are conditional: “If you continue in your ways, this will happen.”
In Huldah’s day, Judah’s king, Josiah, sent to tell the high priest to use the tithes appropriately for the rebuilding of the temple. In that work, the high priest had rediscovered the book of the law, which had apparently lain lost and and forgotten for generations.
When the book was read out to the king, he tore his clothes in a sign of repentance, and told his advisors: “Go, enquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” (2 Kings 22:13)
How do you enquire of the Lord? You ask a prophet. And in this case, you ask a female prophet. You ask Huldah.
Huldah listens. She hears the news that the book of the law has been found and the king’s reaction.
And then she speaks God’s word of both warning and promise. The warning is of God’s wrath and judgment on the people who have forsaken the Lord and worshipped other gods. The promise is for King Josiah, who because of his penitence, will escape that judgment. How? By being gathered to the Lord before the destruction comes.
His death will be his salvation.
“Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.” (2 Kings 2:20)
Death is very near at the moment. It is real and it seems very frightening. But the word of God, spoken through the prophet Huldah, tells us that God’s unquenchable wrath is by far more frightening. Do not fear being gathered to your grave in peace by the Lord. Fear the destruction that God will bring on those who have turned away from him.
And let your fear move you to repentance, while it is not too late.