Summary: We will get to meditate on the action taken on the part of the leadership to raise a 'Holy Nation.' The intervention of the priest and the king laid the foundation for 'Changing the Nation' for God. How many servants of God and leaders are up for this ...
Opening illustration: In Southern Mexico lie the Cueva de Villa Luz, or Cave of the Lighted House. As you make your way to the cave you walk through a veritable paradise of tropical birds and lush rain forest. Underwater the cave is fed by 20 underground springs, beautiful watercourses which teem with tiny fish. The cave itself is home to spectacular rock formations and beautiful ponds. The environment is inviting. Yet accept the invitation and you’ll soon be dead. You see, the Cueva de Villa Luz is filled with poisonous gases. Temptation is just like this. It presents itself to us as something inviting, attractive, life-giving. Yet in reality it’s poisonous and toxic. (Scott Higgins: Information on the Cave obtained from National Geographic, May 2001)
Israel was in a similar situation till Hilkiah found the hidden Word of God and brought it before the King so that the nation would not continue to bear the consequence of their sin by gradually dying out.
Introduction: Josiah became a king when he was 8 years old, a seeker at 16 and a reformer at 20 and a humble servant of God at age 26. His dramatic spiritual growth and leadership resulted from listening to God’s Word and then obeying what he heard.
While the temple in Jerusalem was being repaired and purified, the long-neglected Book of the Law was found and read aloud to young King Josiah. When he heard it, he humbled himself, tore his robes, and wept in the presence of God (2 Chronicles 34:19, 27). Josiah realized the enormous sin of those who had led the nation before him, and he decided that deep and lasting change had to begin with him. His public renewal of the covenant and His commitment to follow the Lord and keep His commands ignited a revival that swept the entire nation (vv.31-33).
What’s wrong with the nation where you live today? Greed? Violence? Indifference toward God? Self-seeking? Self-serving? How long has it been sinking into a moral and spiritual quagmire? Are you feeling too young, or too old, or too powerless to do anything about it?
Josiah - seeker, reformer, servant of God, a 20-something king who wept for his people - has shown us the way. Lord, send a revival, and let it begin in me.
How should a nation respond to God’s Word?
1. Leadership is CONVICTED of the Word of God (vs. 19-21)
Yes, given how wicked Manasseh and Amon had been, but it's still somewhat amazing that such a vital sacred book could have been lost by the time Josiah took the throne. In just a handful of generations, specific knowledge of the covenant had been lost, so much so that it seems the king was hearing its provisions for the first time. It's almost as if the covenant were “born again” in this episode! It is supposed that this was the Book of Deuteronomy; though we have no sympathy whatever with a modern notion with respect to its discovery. In our judgment that book is rightly ascribed to Moses. Apparently, however, it had long been missing, and the young king was filled with horror when he heard the list of evils that were associated with apostasy. “He tore his clothes.”
Josiah was a spiritually discerning leader. He realized immediately the importance of the scroll and how the nation had already broken the covenant and stood under judgment. Tearing his robes showed he comprehended fully the seriousness and sorrow of their sin (v. 21). He led the people in a formal pledge renouncing idols and rededicating themselves to the Lord. Thanks to his leadership, during his lifetime they “did not fail to follow the Lord” (vv. 32-33). The message from the prophetess Huldah indicated that his repentance and humility in response to the Word postponed God's judgment on Judah. The interaction of human choices and divine sovereignty remains a mystery, but obedience is always the best choice.
We should read the Bible with a particular application to the days in which we live. It is well enough to accept its statements as being generally true and credible; but it is better to realize their pertinence to ourselves and our circumstances. The book of the law had been sadly neglected in the years preceding Josiah’s accession; and through the neglect of God’s Word the people had become indifferent to His commands, and deaf to the appeals of His prophets. Josiah turned the lantern on the evils of His time, and saw how God was feeling with respect to them.
Illustration: In 1987, a West Michigan couple, the Zartmans, bought four books at an estate sale. They were excited to find that the books contained two collections of letters and sermons by the preacher and hymn writer John Newton (1725–1807), who wrote the beloved hymn “Amazing Grace.” Also included was a two-volume set of his sermons based on Handel’s Messiah.