Summary: The heart of Josiah was responsive to God and he was humble before Him. God gives grace to the humble.
We looked at the most evil King last week, Manasseh, who repented at the last minute and did what he could to restore the worship of God.
• But his attempt at making right what he has done wrong for so many years, was too little, too late, to make a lasting impact.
• Even his son Amon who succeeded him went back to idolatry.
• He was such a bad king that his officials conspired against him and assassinated him in his palace (21:24). He reigned only for two years.
His son Josiah succeeded him and amazingly, by God’s grace, Josiah became the last godly King in Judah. Let’s read 2 Kings 22:1-20.
Josiah did not follow his father Amon nor his grandfather Manasseh’s footsteps.
• 22:2 summed it up saying “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the ways of his father (forefather) David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”
• In Judah’s history we have a few kings who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord but only 3 were compared to King David – King Asa, Hezekiah and Josiah.
Josiah was committed to doing what was right before God, even before he found the book of the Law, which happened in the 18th year of his reign (22:3).
• We read about the repair works to the Temple of the Lord here.
• Let’s read more about what Josiah did before the 18th year – 2 Chron 34:3-7.
While Josiah was just 16 years old (even the author says, still young), he began to seek the God of his father David.
• In his 12th year when he was 20, he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of all the foreign gods, removing the high places and altars.
• 34:5 says “He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem.”
The amazing thing about Josiah is that he was prophesied many years ago.
• This young man was predicted by name, by an unknown prophet, right at the start of the Northern Kingdom, when Israel was divided into two.
• King Jeroboam led Israel astray when he made two golden calves and placed them at Bethel and Dan.
• In 1 Kings 13 he was making sacrifices at the altar when an unknown prophet appeared.
• 1 Kings 13:1-3 “By the word of the Lord a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. 2 By the word of the Lord he cried out against the altar: “Altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.’” 3That same day the man of God gave a sign: “This is the sign the Lord has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.
• (King Jeroboam stretched out his hand and said, “Seize him!” But the hand he stretched out toward the man shrivelled up, so that he could not pull it back. He asked the man of God to pray for him so that his hand could be restored.)
From Jeroboam then to now - that’s 300 years before Josiah arrived at the scene.
• Clearly God knows. This should assure us, for those who are still doubting if God is aware or in control of what’s happening in our lives.
• And God knows our names. God knew Josiah before he was born.
• And God knows the plan He has for us. That’s the God we worship today.
For Josiah, the task at hand wasn’t easy. Imagine after 57 years of massive idolatry (under Manasseh and Amon) that has touched all aspects of Judah’s life, when God was ignored and trampled upon, Josiah came in and was determined to make changes.
• In the darkness, God shines His light. God leads this young man to the book of the Law that reveals His will.
• Josiah chanced upon a startling discovery by the grace of God. He sought after God and God led him to His book (so to speak) and showed him His will.
The real issue, you realized, is not the lack of the revelation of God’s will. They have His Word of God even before they step into Canaan.
• They have the book of the Law with them. They have the servants of God, the prophets, who speaks the Word of God.
• They have the written Word as well as the spoken words of God.