I discovered Josiah last year when I was gone and studying a tender heart. I knew who he was- the young king of Israel and his name, more or less, but I really didn’t know much about him. I was impressed with what The Lord said to him in 2 Chronicles 37:27…. but it wasn’t until a few months later that the Lord opened up more insight into this amazing man’s life.
As a young person, you can’t help but notice the fact that he was a mere eight years old when he became king….
“Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left. ” (2 Chronicles 34:1, 2 KJV)
I think that says a lot about him. He turned neither to the right or the left, and kept on the “straight and narrow,” so to speak. But eight years old… wow.
“For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father…” (v.3). Eighth year. Sixteen. He was young and impressionable, and maybe he felt that he couldn’t do this right by himself. The responsibility that he felt must have must have been insurmountable. So that’s a key to the Lord’s blessing in his life… seeking him early. When he was young.
Secondly, He had a fear of the Lord. There are three types of fear:
1. A fear of consequences
2. A fear of damage to ours or the Lord’s reputation
3. A fear of damaging a personal relationship with the Lord
Obviously, it was the third type of fear that he had because of what he did.
“For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images. And they brake down the altars of Baalim in his presence; and the images, that were on high above them, he cut down; and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images, he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strowed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them.” (2 Chronicles 34:3, 4 KJV)
Just.read.that. Look what he did! Notice his aversion. He ground them unto dust. In another account he ground them to powder. Dust, powder- it doesn’t matter. Obviously, he didn’t have the first two types of fears because he wouldn’t of done that. He certainly lost popularity and he wasn’t regarded with pleasure, I’m sure. This was becoming a tradition with his people and he destroyed everything. He was passionate about following the Lord and seeking him in everything.
What about us? What are our idols that need destroyed? What is it that is keeping us from seeking the Lord? Or what is it, that as we are seeking the Lord, has been keeping us from that level of intimacy with him? No matter what it is? Feelings, emotions? Pride? Lust? Anger? Media- your tv? Gaming accounts? What about the Internet? What is it that is making you feel validated and fulfilled? Jesus or some earthly object?
Thirdly. “Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land, and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the Lord his God. And when they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites that kept the doors had gathered of the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, and of all the remnant of Israel, and of all Judah and Benjamin; and they returned to Jerusalem.” (2 Chronicles 34:8, 9 KJV) “To repair the house of the Lord his God.” I think, that maybe, as a natural side effect… When you are seeking Jesus, you are drawn to doing what you can for the House of the Lord. I’m not trying to mess up theology here but this may be a good example. In today’s world, we’re not talking about the timber for the couplings of the temple. It may be more along the lines of ministry. Witnessing and Discipleship. Proclaiming Jesus Christ, and for those who are born again, getting together with a disciple and discipling those to spiritual maturity so they can then do the same.
Next of all… His respect for the Word of God and his spiritual leaders. It’s a long passage, 2 Chronicles 34:16-21. But when Josiah heard the “words of the law… he rent his clothes.” One of my favorite quotes is by the CLA’s David Gibbs. This quote is written everywhere in my room- my bible, journal, various papers, etc. He says, “Non-Christians view the Bible as a fable. What’s worse is how Christians view it… as suggestions. God never wrote suggestions.” And truly he didn’t. He commanded. Josiah trembled at the Word of the Lord. “Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word…” (Isaiah 66:5 KJV) Where is that holy fear of the Lord? I know I lack it. Reading Isaiah 6 is so eye opening, and shows us how truly pathetic our modern day fear of the Lord is. He is GOD. He is LORD. He is creator and he made you and I, He, full of justice and truth, sent his son to bear the iniquity of us all. What is our reaction to the Word of the Lord? When you are reading scripture, or hearing the truth being preached, or are rebuked (ouch!) or you read something by a great man of God (Chambers, Hession, Spurgeon, or Tozer, anyone?) and The Lord convicts you and pricks your conscience, how are you responding?
The Lord rewarded him. The Lord rewarded him for his tenderheartedness. “Because thine heart was tender, and thou didst humble thyself before God, when thou heardest his words against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, and humbledst thyself before me, and didst rend thy clothes, and weep before me; I have even heard thee also, saith the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 34:27 KJV) Josiah humbled himself and died to his ambitions and self righteousness and reputation… and when he heard the word of the Lord, he humbled himself. He was truly broken in his sin, and he “made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statues, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book.” I think the end of chapter 34 sums it up nicely: “…And all his days they departed not from following the Lord, the God of their fathers.”
I don’t know about you, but every time I read of Josiah and think of his story, I am convicted. What a man. His great-grandfather was Hezekiah, and his grandfather was Manasseh. His grandfather was described by the Lord as one who did evil in the sight of the Lord. 2 Chronicled 33 accounts where Manasseh did humble himself before God, and God heard his prayers, but Manasseh only did that when he was in affliction. (2 Chronicles 33:12.) Manasseh’s son and Josiah’s father, Amon, purposely trespassed and only ruled for two years. (2 Chron 33:21.) I don’t honestly know why exactly Josiah sought the Lord. He might have been young enough to see the fruit of his father’s leadership. I’m not sure. I do know these things about Josiah- and that is that he sought the Lord, he feared him, he trembled at the Word of the Lord, and he revered and respected spiritual leadership. I think that has something to do with what the Lord said of him.