Josiah became King of Judah at the age of 8. He was the grandson of King Manasseh and great grandson of King Hezekiah. The spiritual condition of the nation had deteriorated, with idols and pagan shrines everywhere. The people had turned away from Yahweh, and He had decided that their judgement was coming (the exile to Babylon). But then came Josiah, a young man who earnestly started to seek the Lord at the age of sixteen. By the time he was twenty he set about destroying all the objects of idolatry and false worship. ‘He ordered that the altars of Baal be demolished and that the incense altars which stood above them be broken down. He also made sure that the Asherah poles, the carved idols, and the cast images were smashed and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. He burned the bones of the pagan priests on their own altars, and so he purified Judah and Jerusalem’ (2 Chronicles 34:4-5).
He then set about restoring the Lord’s Temple in Jerusalem. What he did not expect was that Hilkiah the priest would find the Book of the Law of the Lord that was written by Moses in the Temple while they were restoring it. This would have been the first five books of the Old Testament. The Word had been lost. On reading it Josiah tore his clothes in despair - he knew that he, his ancestors and nation were guilty of not doing everything that the Lord required. Josiah had the most amazing revelation of God from the first five books of the Bible! So what did he do? He called everybody, rich and poor, to the Temple and Josiah read the whole of those five books to the nation. He then publicly renewed the Covenant with the Lord and required everybody to make a similar pledge. He went on to celebrate the most amazing Passover feast. ‘None of the kings of Israel had ever kept a Passover as Josiah did, involving all the priests and Levites, all the people of Jerusalem, and people from all over Judah and Israel’ (2 Chronicles 35:18).
There are so many aspects of Josiah’s story that are inspiring for us today. Maybe you’re a young man or woman with all your life before you. Do as Josiah did - seek the Lord with all your heart and let Him open up your future. Josiah had reformed the whole nation by the age of twenty six!
Maybe you have some cleansing and purifying to do. For Josiah this was hard work and undoubtedly took great courage. He had to go through his nation and find everything that was not of the Lord and burn or destroy it. Are there items in your home that wouldn’t please the Lord? - objects from other religions, items you picked up when travelling, anything that’s an idol in your own heart and that you know in your spirit wouldn’t please Him. Today’s a good day to destroy these things.
Or maybe like Josiah you know that you haven’t kept your covenant with Him. Today’s the day to return to the Lord and say sorry. Jesus will always receive a heart that’s humble and repentant. Renew your covenant with the Lord and return to the Word. Commit afresh today to read the Bible, so you can know how to keep His word.
When Josiah had done all the cleansing and restoring, he had the Passover celebration. What’s noted as so special about it is that everybody was involved. Maybe the Lord will lead you, especially church leaders, to have a ‘Passover’ celebration, involving as many people as possible to celebrate our Passover Lamb, Jesus.
Judah’s judgement did come as the Lord had said, but in His mercy God waited until Josiah had died. God delights to honour those who love Him and serve Him with all their hearts. Today’s verse is the most beautiful tribute to Josiah from the Lord. What an amazing way to be remembered. If you will love the Lord with all your heart like Josiah, the Lord will find a fitting tribute for you too.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the story of King Josiah. Would You help me to cleanse my home and show me any items I have that You want me to destroy. I want to return to You today, Jesus, and renew my covenant to love and obey You. Give me a greater revelation of who You are and how You want me to live from Your word in the Bible. May I please You in all I do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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