The one thing I always remember about today’s story of King Josiah is his age. Verse one tells us he was eight years old when he became king. Certainly noteworthy. But, what I never stopped to think about much before was what happened in the chapter just prior. His father had not humbled himself before God, did evil, and ended up assassinated by his own officials leaving Josiah to become king. Josiah came into power under those circumstances, after years of the reigns of his father and grandfather who did not honor or obey God. So, young Josiah comes into kingship during difficult times, and verse 3 tells us that at the age of 16 Josiah began to “seek the God of his father David. ” Thankfully, we are never too young, too old, or in too bad of circumstances to seek God.
Four years later at the age of twenty, he begins a big clean up project in Judah. The enemies Judah fought in yesterday’s reading appear to have been infiltrating the lives of God’s chosen people over the years. Some of the sinful customs they adopted were altars to Baal, idols, sacred poles or trees used to worship a pagan goddess Asherah, and sacrifices (including ones of children Ezekiel tells us) to idols. Basically, they just acted like the people around them, completely disregarding what God called them to do and be.
Verses 8-13 highlight King Josiah’s efforts to repair and purify the temple that had fallen into shambles during the time of the disobedient kings. During this process, a priest stumbled across something exciting in the temple which was the “Book of the Law given through Moses”. This book is also known as the Torah or the Pentateuch and is made up of the first 5 books of our Bible. The priest’s secretary took it to the king and read it in his hearing. What a different time where Bibles weren’t available on hundreds of apps, online, or printed across the world. Who knows when or if Josiah had heard these words last? Regardless, once he heard them, he was affected. He tore his robes and mourned for how far they had strayed from God’s desire for them.
Josiah wanted his people to know who they were and what they were called to be. He wanted them to experience not just guilt for all the wrong, but also the blessings coming from walking alongside a loving God. Verse 30 tells us he read from the Book of the Law to “all the people from the least to the greatest”. God’s word isn’t just for pastors, priests, and the privileged. It is for everyone and we know from Hebrews 4:12 that it is living, active, and sharper than a two edged sword!
This passage reminds me of a friend of ours who loves God’s word and clearly seeks to apply it and obey it in his life. Though he grew up attending church and in a home with parents who believed in God, he said he never internalized it or cared about it whatsoever. He could “talk the Churchese language”, and said his parents and everyone at church told him he was “saved at 6”, though he quite passionately differs with that mindset saying he was not, because it meant nothing to him. Once on his own, he pursued his own interests/gain, and what would likely be considered normal/worldly success to those around him, but without a personal relationship with God playing any role in his life. After ~20 years of this “American individualistic lifestyle”, he said one day at work a coworker set a Bible on his desk. He picked it up, thumbed through it, started to read, and said it changed him instantly lighting a fire in him wanting to know more and know God. He says this entirely changed the course of his life, later impacting the family he has now. He often references the story of Josiah, and I love to watch him talk to people with such excitement for God’s word and living a life of obedience to it. It kind of amuses me to watch “Christian” people seem almost like, “Um, yeah, that’s nice that you like God and His word….” but you can tell….they are almost mystified by him and his Josiah-like attitudes. He has been a convicting blessing in our lives and we love to do Bible study with him and fellowship with his family. How long has it been since we’ve been excited or grateful to read it? Excited to find it sitting in the same spot we left it last . . . .? Willing to actually do what it says? Because Josiah did not stop with reading it. He followed, removed sinful practices, renewed covenants, and obeyed His word.
Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors. (2 Chronicles v. 34)
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- After reading the chapter describe in your own words what Josiah did. What characteristics do you see in Josiah that you admire?
- What pagan, anti-God practices and ideas or centers for idolatry are found in your community? While you likely lack the authority King Josiah had to tear them down physically, how can you make a godly stand against them? What has crept into your own home and family life that God would be happy to see purged? Are you willing to do a deep cleaning of your home (calendar and heart) to remove ungodly influences?
- How do you rate your love of God’s Scriptures? What does it convict you of? How do you share it with others? How does it affect your decisions and actions? What can you do to increase your love for God’s word?
- Who did Josiah work with and in what supporting roles? Who is on your team as you work for God? How do you support others who are seeking God?