Summary: A Turnaround always begins with an individual. It begins with someone who looks at the familiar landscape but sees something different. Josiah led the nation into restoration.
Introduction: How to experience a turnaround in your life during a pandemic? How do you turn around a nation or a people bound for destruction? Israel, God’s chosen people had a greater prospect for success than any nation in history. Although the nation was small in size; weak in strength; and limited in influence, their relationship with God made success possible. The administration of a number of misguided kings had led the nation to the blink of judgment and the wrath of God.
Hezekiah, a pious king of Judah and the great-grand father of Josiah, had attempted to reform the nation of Isaiah, but the reform was short lived. The failed attempts to turn the nation around still reveal an important key in restoration. Restoration always begins with an individual. It begins with someone who looks at the familiar landscape but sees something different. God found in the great-grand son of Hezekiah, Josiah the heart of reformer.
Josiah, son of Amon and great-grandson of Hezekiah, was a pious king of Judah, who introduced great reforms in Judah and Jerusalem. He instituted the temple repairs, restored the temple worship, and changed the religious character of the nation in general. No king in Israel’s history set himself more earnestly to destroy every vestige of idolatry out of the land. Among other things, he defiled the altars of the idols at Bethel by burning upon them the bones from the tombs of their deceased priests; as had been foretold more than three centuries before, 1Ki 13:2.
What made Josiah successful in turn the nation around? Josiah had a good heart. God needs an individual with a good heart to begin the process; secondly, there must be the discovery of truth. While cleaning and repairing the temple at his command, the priests found the temple copy of the five books of the law, perhaps the original copy from Moses' own hand. The sacred book was too much neglected in those days of gradual decline; and even the pious Josiah seems to have been impressed by the closing chapters of Deuteronomy as though he had never read them before. When Josiah heard the reading of God’s truth, he humbled himself before God, and sought to bring the people to repentance. He caused them to renew their covenant with Jehovah, and celebrated the Passover with a solemnity like that of its first institution.
2 Chronicles 34, reveals several steps necessary for Restoration. Josiah did not embrace the concept of moving from maintenance to ministry. Instead he embraced the concept of moving to maintenance and ministry. He was moved by seeing the temple in physical disrepair. He was determined to see the temple repaired and during the process the word of God was discovered. The commands of God were lost in the temple stuff. What happens when God’s word is lost among temple stuff? In this case, the money was misused; the feast was neglected; idols were introduced and holiness was lost. Worst of all, Jehovah was thought of as being inactive. Jeremiah began his ministry about the same as Josiah began his reign. The book of Jeremiah gives a clear description of the times. Zephaniah gives us a clear view of the attitude of the people.
Zep 1:12 And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.
How do we turn a nation around? How do restore God’s people to their mission? How can the church reclaim its mission? In the text, we will discover what Josiah did. After Josiah had been awaken to the truth, he took several decisive steps.
1. Josiah made a personal commitment to follow the Lord in response to God’s word. 2Ch 34:2 And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, walking in the ways of his father David, without turning to the right hand or to the left.
Any hope of turning others to God must begin with a personal commitment. Josiah made a commitment to follow God before understanding all that was required. He sought to understand, inquired of the prophetess of God. Our personal commitment should lead us on a quest for truth.
2Ch 34:21 Go and get directions from the Lord for me and for those who are still in Israel and for Judah, about the words of this book which has come to light; for great is the wrath of the Lord which has been let loose on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord or done what is recorded in this book.
2. Josiah sought a commitment from those responsible for leading the Nation based on God’s word. 2Ch 34:29-30 Then the king sent and got together all the responsible men of Judah and of Jerusalem. And the king went up to the house of the Lord, with all the men of Judah and the people of Jerusalem, and the priests and the Levites and all the people, small and great; and they were present at his reading of the book of the law which had come to light in the house of the Lord.