He Did What Was Right In God's Sight
The reading of the word of God had been abandoned by Judah for decades when King Josiah restored it.
One of the finest kings that ever reigned over the kingdom of Judah was Josiah. He was distinguished for his religious reforms, and we can learn from him the lessons of courage and willingness for religious restoration.
That King Josiah was a righteous ruler who loved God is acknowledged in holy Old Testament scriptures. In 2 Kings, one of the books with 1 Kings, 1& 2 Chronicles that have extensive records of the acts of Jewish kings, we read in chapter 23 verse 25 the following about him: “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the Lord with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.”
Josiah was an admirable man, although not directly exposed to the kind of influence that he needed in order to be molded into a godly character. His grandfather, King Manasseh, promoted idol worship all across the land of Judah – he even allowed idolatry in the temple (2 Chronicles 33:3-7; 9). As to his father, King Amon, he simply was a wicked man (2 Kings 21:20).
However, Josiah did not let the bad examples of his grandfather and his father influence him to do wrong. Instead, when he became king at the young age of eight, he “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord”. By the time he was 16 years old, he began to seek after God (2 Chronicles 34:2-3). Furthermore, eighteen years in his reign Josiah introduced reforms intended to bring the people of Judah back to God from pagan worship. In this process, cult places and objects were broken down and practices destroyed, not only in Jerusalem but also in other cities as far as Nephtali. This reaction from Josiah teaches us that one doesn’t have to be involved in wrong religious practices just because their parents or family are involved in them or because the practices are widespread across the society they live in.
Also, at the time of the reformation contributions were being made by the people towards the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem which had been left in ruins for years. The king then ordered Shaphan, the scribe, to go to the house of the Lord and tell Hilkiah the high priest to “sum the silver which is brought into the house of the Lord”. This sum of money was to fund the repair work the temple needed.
Now, after Shaphan delivered the king’s message to the high priest, Hilkiah revealed that “I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.” The “book of the law” may be a reference to a copy of the Law of Moses which had been abandoned in the ruins of the temple. Then Hilkiah handed the book to Shaphan to be taken to the monarch, which he did. When Josiah read it, he rent his clothes and sent his servant back to the high priest with another message. The king told Hilkiah, “Go ye, enquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.”
Can you sense the king’s outrage, concern and worry? He was outraged and concerned that his nation had not been faithful in following the commandments contained in the book of the law given by Moses. The reading and observance of the law had been neglected for decades by previous kings.
So, Josiah decided “with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book” (2 Chronicles 34:31). The same attitude is to be expected from Christians. Whenever we discover in New Testament Scripture precepts that we didn’t know about previously, because of failure to read the Scriptures, we must resolve and be diligent to put in practice what we have then learned. It could be teaching concerning the mission of the church, which exclusively is about preaching the gospel, edifying the congregation and assisting those in the local church who are in need so that they can continue to serve the Lord (Mark 16:15, Ephesians 4:11-13; Romans 12:13). It could be the truth on the roles of men and women in the local church. It could be anything.
Josiah was worried that his people could soon be consumed by the Lord’s anger. Stirred by the threat of an imminent judgement from the Lord hanging over Judah, of which prophetess Huldah had warned, the young king encouraged and led his people to observe the Passover in a way that was unparalleled.
The people of Judah could not worship God faithfully because they had forsaken His word which was to be their guide in their service to the Lord. God forbid that we make the mistake Judah made setting aside the word of God simply because we have let our practices in the local church be ruled by our opinions and emotions. God will be pleased with Christians who once they find the truth in His word and understand it, they don’t fight it. Instead they accept it, embrace it wholeheartedly and resolve to practice it. That’s what Josiah sworn to do in obedience to God.
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