Josiah takes the throne after his father Amon. He is not the youngest king ever in Judah but he is one of the most godly.
If the people of Judah are anything like me right now they are feeling like yo-yos, being pulled back and forth from one place to another. From serving God to serving idols and back and forth so many times it is dizzying! In the last four kings there have been five changes. Hezekiah brought the people back to God, Manasseh took them far away then later brought them back, Amon took them even farther away and now Josiah brings them back again. If it weren’t life or death I would say the people were simply riding the waves of the latest fad.
Josiah is going to have a HUGE impact on the nation. He is the last godly king in Judah’s line, before Jesus. He is also the strongest influence since David. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (verse 2). I don’t fully remember all his acts from our time in 2 Kings. I’m wondering if he had any big sin issues he had to deal with. There hasn’t been one king, godly or not, that hasn’t. David had sexual sin and murder. Asa and Jehoshaphat both made alliances with the wrong people instead of seeking God’s help. Uzziah and Hezekiah both faced pride issues. The other kings all sought after idols in varying degrees. So what are we going to see with Josiah?
The first thing that we see is that he sought the Lord of his own accord. When Joash was made king at six years old, Jehoiada had taught him from birth about the Lord. Jehoiada was his stabilizing influence. When Jehoiada died Joash abandoned the Lord. It was almost as if he was serving God because of Jehoiada, not on his own account.
Josiah started seriously seeking the Lord on his own at the age of 16. He had a personal relationship with the Lord. After four years of building that relationship he called for the people to follow the Lord too. He tore down all the altars and high places. The altars were torn down during Joash’s rule but that was not by his personal command. It was done at Jehoiada’s prompting.
Josiah makes it his PERSONAL duty to stand over the process and make certain it is ALL done. “And they chopped down the altars of the Baals in his presence” (verse 4a). This clearly states that he kept his OWN eyes on the process. The other places where it says “he…” did something in the removal or destruction of the idols, I’m not certain if this means him personally or others under his command. I can see it go either way but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was the one who personally sprinkled the dust of the idols over the graves of those who sacrificed to them. It appears from the verse where we are told “Then he returned to Jerusalem” that he personally went throughout Israel and Judah on this mission of cleansing. That is one dedicated king and child of God! He would see it done in ALL the land, no matter who was ruling it at the time.
Which begs the point, who was ruling the remnant of Israel at this time? I’m assuming they were still under Assyrian rule but was anyone directly governing them or were they kind of forgotten? Is this what how Josiah was able to make sweeping reform for all the people of Israel? That’s pretty amazing to me. A people without a nation and a nation without a ruler. But they were NOT a people without a God. God never abandoned them, even when they abandoned Him. He waited until the right time to reach down and touch their lives. I’m not sure how they felt about Judah’s king coming in and destroying their altars, but I would bet that after being told to return to the Lord their lives improved. God rewards those who seek Him.
Were the people secretly waiting and hoping for this reform? Did they want to return to God but were afraid they wouldn’t be welcomed? Was Josiah’s message of repentance a breath of fresh air or a pressing weight? How many wanted to hold onto the old (divided kingdom of idolatry) ways and how many were GLAD for Josiah’s words and watchful eyes?
I wonder if anyone tried to dismiss him because he was so young. Maybe this is why he waited until he was already 12 years into his reign before making this move. Would the people have followed his decrees if he started when he first began serving the Lord? We aren’t told of any religious leader that was instructing him or being his ‘manager’ while he was growing up on the throne. Who were his advisors? God must have chosen them with care from the later years of Manasseh.
How much impact did Manasseh’s transformation have on Josiah? Did he see the man his grandfather ‘was’ and then ‘became’? Was this a firsthand lesson for Josiah in the power of God? Josiah was six when Manasseh died and Manasseh’s change occurred very late in his life. I find it fully possible that young Josiah could have seen a cold and calculating grandfather become a loving one who taught him about God. Lessons his father was unable to teach because he refused to learn them himself.
You never know the impact you might have on the future of those around you or even the world. Hezekiah’s personal relationship with God left an imprint on Manasseh. It took him quite a while to yield to it, but then his own personal relationship with God was passed on to his grandson, Josiah. And Josiah’s personal relationship would change the nation. Who knows what your impact will be!
Will you be the parent who teaches their child the stories of the Bible? Will you be the co-worker who is not afraid to offer prayer when you see another in need? Will you be the teacher who is not afraid to speak of the true meaning of Christmas? Will you be the grandparent who stands in the gap for a parent who is either unable or unwilling to share Jesus? Will you be the one who simply smiles at a stranger instead of turning away? ALL these are ministries and gifts from the Lord that we can share. Simple ways we can reach out to others in His name.
Father God, help me be a light for You in all the places I walk. My light wasn’t shining so bright earlier today when dealing with scheduling foul-ups and LONG wait times. Forgive me father for my attitude. Thank You for changing my husband’s attitude when it came to the moment of speaking anger to others. He vented it quite freely to me and that is ok because he needed somewhere safe for it. Help me remember this lesson the next time I’m in a similar situation; not that I want to repeat that same kind of situation, but just in case I do I want a better witness for You.
Thank You also for the time You have given me to bless my grandchildren with a ‘just because I love you’ gift. Help them see the love I’m pouring into each item, just for them. Let it speak of Your love. I can love them because You love me, AND them!