2 Chronicles 34
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 34:1
Josiah is one of those intriguing characters Scripture prophecies and names before his birth, like Cyrus in Isaiah 44:28- 45:3. After the division of Solomon's kingdom, Jeroboam led the northern ten tribes into apostasy. In 1 Kings 12, like Aaron in Exodus 32:4, he made two golden calves for the people of Israel to worship. He presented the idols to the people with this statement, "Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt." Interestingly, Aaron introduced his golden calf with the same statement. In 1 Kings 13, God sent a prophet to confront Jeroboam. In verse 2 the LORD, speaking through the prophet, made this declaration, "O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’”
2 Chronicles 34 describes the fulfillment of the 1 Kings 13 prophecy. As a teenager, Josiah began to seek after God and purge Judah and Jerusalem of all the instruments of idol worship. Verse six describes his efforts as not merely limited to Judah but included cities in Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon, and the northern tribe of Naphtali. 2 Kings 23:15-20 relates the specific event when Josiah defiled the altar by burning human bones on it.
As you know by now, I believe the Bible is God's Word that provides us with everything necessary for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). So, I always find the reformation/revival of Josiah fascinating. Before the discovery of the "Book of the Law" in verse fourteen, Josiah was doing a lot right. He not only destroyed all the elements of idol worship throughout the land, but he also restored the house of the LORD his God. However, everything changed when the Book was read to him. Josiah could have thought, “Well I am not doing everything commanded in the Book perfectly, but we are making a good effort. I have been doing my best." Instead, he tore his clothes as a sign of mourning and grief because he knew "great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this book.”
Josiah immediately sought the counsel of one of God's prophets. Through Huldah, the prophetess, the LORD spoke both words of encouragement to Josiah and coming destruction after his death. God's wrath would be poured out on Judah because the nation had forsaken Him and broken the covenant. This promise is fulfilled when the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem and take most of the people of Israel into captivity in 586 B.C. But the LORD told Josiah, "because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before me and have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you." Isaiah 66:2 provides a good description of Josiah, "But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word."
Examining my life, I fear I would not have responded as Josiah did when he heard the words of the Book. I am embarrassed to say I would have probably tried to justify myself by pointing out the fact that I was doing better than most of the kings before me. I certainly would have made a note of all the things I was doing right. But that is not what the LORD desires. Psalm 51:17 (NLT) says, "The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”
Holy God, thank You for the clarity of Your Word and the example of men like Josiah. Forgive my self-justification and attempts to judge myself by my standard rather than Yours. Thank You, Jesus, for accomplishing what I could not. Holy Spirit, thank You for convicting me. Please quickly remind me that I am to be holy as my Father in heaven is Holy.