Josiah followed the Lord with his whole heart all his days as king, but like every other king he had one sin. He was determined to do this sin and it cost him his life.
Josiah wasn’t plagued by too many wives, or at least they didn’t turn him away from God like Solomon’s did. He didn’t have a roving eye like David. He didn’t become too proud like Uzziah and Hezekiah did. He didn’t ally himself with the wrong company like Jehoshaphat. He didn’t seek rescue from another country like Asa did. Josiah’s sin was in not listening to the voice of the Lord when it came through an unexpected source; Pharaoh of Egypt.
Josiah was doing everything he knew to do according to the Law handed down through Moses. He had removed every trace of idols and improper worship from all the land. He had restored the Temple. He had the Ark of the Lord replaced in its spot in the Temple. He reinstituted the feasts. And he led the people to their God through example and edict. They had peace and probably prosperity. It was a good time to be from Judah.
But Josiah wasn’t looking only to his country. He kept his ear to the ground when it came to his neighbors. We don’t know how many other conflicts there were between neighbors but when Egypt got involved Josiah refused to sit on the sidelines. I don’t know if it was because Egypt was so much bigger than its opponent or if Josiah was carrying resentment in his heart for his people’s past with Egypt.. Maybe he thought if Egypt won they would have a foothold in the area and would soon take over the territory. Whatever the reason he wanted in on this battle, on the side opposing Egypt
God spoke to Josiah and told him to stay out of the way. But His message didn’t come to Josiah through the normal channels. So Josiah dismissed it completely. He could have been thinking that Egypt would say anything to keep him out. That is not beyond the realm of possibilities but Pharaoh quoted his source as God. Could Josiah have been wondering which ‘god’ Pharaoh got his information from? If he had known would he have still gone?
Josiah’s sin became not seeking God’s input on this issue. Is it possible that he did have confirmation from other sources? Had God sent him any prophets to tell him not to go? He actually did have one prophet speak of this, if he only remembered the words spoken by Huldah. “Behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace” (2 Chronicles 34:28a). God was specifically speaking about His wrath on Judah but ‘gathering him to his grave in peace’ speaks to me of lack of ALL war. Josiah either didn’t remember these words, didn’t think they applied to this event, or chose to ignore them.
I’m curious as to why Josiah chose to go in disguise. Who was he hiding from? If we look back, there was another battle where the king went out in disguise but that disguise didn’t fool God. His word STILL came true. This was the battle where Ahab asked Jehoshaphat to join him. After searching for confirmation from the Lord regarding the outcome of the battle, the two kings went anyway. God word regarding Ahab’s death came true even though Ahab had disguised himself as a common soldier. God saw through his disguise as easily as if he were standing on the field of battle wearing a neon sign announcing who he was.
I’m going to say Satan saw through Josiah’s disguise. Imagine how much more Josiah could have done for the Lord if he had stayed home. Satan wanted Josiah out of the way so the people would turn away from God again. And Josiah’s stepping out from under God’s protection through sin made it possible for this to happen. IF God had told Josiah to join this battle he would have been victorious. But God said NOT to come. That sin cost Josiah his life and the nation a shining light for the Lord.
Thinking over this story reminds me of another story. This story is about someone not listening too. But God made CERTAIN that this man heard Him loud and clear. That person was Balaam. God didn’t stop reaching out to get Balaam’s attention until he FINALLY got through to him. It took his donkey talking to him to shake him out of his own stubbornness. Imagine being halfway through that conversation before realizing that donkey’s don’t talk! That was an eye opener for sure.
Why didn’t God make Josiah’s horse talk to him? I’m going to say that God knew all along that Josiah was going to make this choice. Josiah had done all he could to bring the people to the Lord. Five or ten more years would not have cemented the future generations any more than the years he already served. And God still had a promise of pouring out His wrath to keep. He wouldn’t do that until AFTER Josiah’s death. And Josiah’s ‘interference’ in matters of the king of Egypt set this in motion. Josiah’s decision to interject Judah into this conflict opened the door for Egypt to be used as God’s instrument of judgement.
It was NOT part of God’s plan for Josiah to sin. But God used his sin to bring about His purposes.
Father God, what have my sins opened the door to? For me and for those I love. Did my sins with food lead my children to doubt Your love? Was I doubting Your love? I know I was doubting that I was worthy of love during that time. I felt broken and flawed and tried to fix myself my own way. I failed miserably. I only made things worse, like Josiah going into battle in disguise. I put myself in the place of danger and Satan willingly accommodated that opportunity. Was this where the seeds of doubt were planted in my children’s lives? Or was I watering ones I had planted earlier?
Father forgive me! Please rip up these seeds that have borne fruit. Jesus tells me that He can move mountains so the fruit bearing trees in my children’s hearts pose no problem. I place them once again in YOUR hands. I trust You with their eternal lives.
Thank You for protecting me from permanent harm during the bad times in my life. I didn’t have any donkeys talking to me, but the people You sent and the comfort I found in You was enough. Help it still be ‘enough’ in the hard times that still crop up now and again in my heart.