2 Kings 22:3–23:30
Josiah became king when he was eight years-old. When he turned twenty-six he decided to gather the funds in the Temple and repair the damages to the House of the LORD. He wanted to fix it up. This is a good sign…there’s no doubt God was working in this young man.
As they’re going through what was probably a cluttered and neglected Temple they come across a copy of the Book of the Law. Apparently it had been lost in the House of the LORD.
Hmm. I can’t help but think of how the same thing happens today in many “churches.” They were originally built on the Word of God, churches that once preached the Bible faithfully, and lived it lovingly, no longer preach God’s Word from the pulpit and no longer live by its precepts. Their talks are inspiring, motivational, positive, and politically correct, but not straight-out Biblical. Yes, happens today, the Word of God is often lost in the “House of God.”
In Josiah’s day they found the law of the LORD and brought it to him. When he read the Book, he tore his clothes realizing that neither he nor his people were faithfully living this law and were deserving of the judgment of God. We read his words to a team of delegates in:
2 Kings 22:13 (NKJV) “Go, inquire of the LORD for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
The king sent the men to Huldah the prophetess. She inquired of the LORD and indeed, the land would be judged, the damage was too deep, especially under the reign of King Manasseh, but there would be a window of opportunity for revival, and she included a personal word to King Josiah.
2 Kings 22:19–20 (NKJV) “…because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the LORD. 20 Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.” ’ ”
So they brought back word to the king who gathered ALL the people – and read to them the Book of the Law, also called the Book of the Covenant. Then the king stood before God and all the people, and vowed to keep God’s Word, “with all his heart and all his soul…”
Next thing we see is King Josiah cleansing the land – big time!
He burned pagan items used to worship pagan gods. He removed the idolatrous priests who burned incense to idols. He burned the image of Asherah and tore down the places where perverted men and women performed forms of religious prostitution. He defiled the Topheth where people offered/murdered their children in the worship of Molech. He removed horses that were dedicated to the sun. The king broke down and pulverized the pagan altars that were in the House of the LORD, throwing the dust into the Brook Kidron. He defiled the high places and broke in pieces pillars and altars – all the way to the capital city of the northern kingdom, Samaria. It was a complete and thorough cleansing of all that was pagan and impure, even executing the pagan priests. Josiah was zealous in his quest to cleanse the land.
How we need to do the same in our lives personally, in our family, in our flocks, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if God allowed a sweeping movement – nationally, or globally? Of course we can’t force anyone or harm anyone in the name of the LORD for we are not the Jews under their Old Covenant Civil Law. The way we change the world is through love, prayer, witness, and the proclamation of the Gospel. But we can make a stand for Christ and cleanse our own hearts with such intensity!
Today, for our nation, I believe the writing is on the wall, judgment is on the horizon, Jesus is coming soon (very soon). But perhaps, as in the days of Josiah, there’s hope for one more revival. As long as there’s one person left with this kind of love for the LORD – there’s hope. Let’s pray for our leaders – that they’d lead with this type of passionate love for God and His Word (1 Timothy 2:1-4).
All that Josiah was doing had been prophesied by a Man of God – who even identified the future king by name 290 years earlier! It was a remarkable prophecy! We read back in:
1 Kings 13:2 (NKJV) “Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, ‘O altar, altar! Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’’”
God’s word through the prophet came to pass!
Josiah continued to obey God’s Word, this time in the affirmative, by leading the nation in the celebration of the Passover. This was something that was to be done every year – celebrating and contemplating the way the LORD had redeemed His people from Egypt, but they had neglected this holy day. Often times the reason we don’t live for God in the present, is simply because we’ve forgotten what He’s done in the past (2 Peter 1:9). This is why communion is so important as Christians, we have a tendency to forget (Acts 2:42; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25). This Passover led by Josiah, was epic (2 Kings 23:21-22).
What an awesome work God can do through one man who’s completely yielded to Him. Notice the commendation we read on this man, Josiah:
2 Kings 23:25 (NKJV) “Now before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses; nor after him did any arise like him.”
Josiah wasn’t a perfect man (none of us are). In the end he meddled in a war that wasn’t his; he paid the ultimate price and died in battle at the hands of the Egyptians killed by Pharaoh Necho.
Lessons to learn from Josiah’s victories and even from his defeat.
As Paul is being carried away from the mob that wants him murdered, he pleads with the commander for the opportunity to speak with the Jews who were gathered together by the droves for the feast day. This would be the dream of his life, to speak to them like this in Jerusalem.
Paul’s passionate love for the Jews is revealed in:
Romans 9:3 (NKJV) “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.”
Imagine that! Paul said he’d be willing to die and go to hell if that resulted in the salvation of Israel! Wow! (Moses was the same way – Exodus 32:32). Thankfully God doesn’t do those kind of deals, every person must choose for themselves – so Paul preached, and presented his testimony.
How would it all pan out – would the so called “people of God” listen to the man of God? Paul did his best.
Warren Wiersbe said this, “The starting point of Paul’s defense was his identification with the Jews. His birth, training, and early ministry as a rabbi were strictly orthodox. He associated his conversion with Ananias, “a devout man according to the law”(v. 12). IT TAKES TACT TO MAKE CONTACT.”
This is the second time we hear (read) the account of Paul’s conversion (we’ll see it again in chapter 26). How glorious to see the way he was arrested by Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, the light of the Lord, brighter than the sun at noon-day…and then there’s that pulling conviction (goads) and deep-pressing question, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
As Christians, we all have a “Damascus Road” story, how Jesus appeared to us, knowing it was “hard” for us. We then had a decision to make. Thank God Paul made that decision there on the dusty road to Damascus, to crown Christ as the King and the Lord of his life.
Paul is blinded in order to see more deeply – he did a lot of thinking those three days, and would later blind a man for a time, knowing the benefit of it firsthand (Acts 13:9-11). Ananias went and laid hands on him, restoring his sight, baptizing him with water, and with the Spirit (Acts 9:17), mentioning the ministry Paul would be engaged in (Acts 22:15).
We see in the book of Acts that people would get baptized immediately – subsequent to salvation. Ananias refers to it as the washing away of one’s sins – not that baptism saves us, but it’s a picture of what happened the moment we were saved (Revelation 1:5).
If you’re reading the One Year Bible, this is the second time we’re reading through the Psalms this year – what a blessing, praying this book finds a home deep in our hearts.
Psalm 1 is the perfect “song” to start everything off in Israel’s hymnal.
If we want to be blessed, we mustn’t walk in the counsel of the world, we are to walk in the counsel of God’s Word! Meditate in it day-and-night – read it and heed it – love it, learn it, and live it! If that’s your heart, the promise of this Psalm is that you’ll be like a tree planted in a perfect spot, with plenty of water to bear good fruit, even your leaves won’t wither…and whatever you do will prosper (Psalm 1:3). You will be successful in God’s eyes and accomplish His purposes for your life.
But those who reject God’s Word and choose to live according to the counsel of the world, (the ungodly) will not stand on the day of judgment before God…the ungodly will perish.
Psalm 1:6 (NKJV) “For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
V. 11 – (NLT) “The rich think of their wealth as a strong defense; they imagine it to be a high wall of safety.”
They think they’re safe, sound, strong and secure because they’re rich and therefore they can build the highest, thickest walls all around them, that’s their protection. We can purchase the best alarm system, hire personal body guards, have the best doctors and health insurance money can buy, but ultimately our breath is in God’s hands…we’re to trust in Him and only Him.
It’s not a sin to be rich, but it is a sin to trust in riches.
Riches might be able to buy a nice piece of land, but it cannot buy peace with God. Riches may be able to buy easier days (in one sense) but they cannot buy any extra days. I’m reminded of the account of Belshazzar in Babylon.
Daniel 5:23 (NKJV) “And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified.”
That very night Belshazzar was slain!
V. 12 – It’s inevitable. Pride will always lead to destruction. Humility leads to honor; maybe not in the temporary kingdom of men, but definitely there in the everlasting Kingdom of God.
Jesus said in:
Luke 18:14b (NKJV) “…for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Augustine said, “Should you ask me what is the first thing in religion? I should reply, ‘the first, second, and third thing therein is humility.’”
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.