The degree to which Josiah committed himself to the word that he heard was incredible. Remarkable to the extent that he stood out among the kings of Israel and Judah.
What’s of great interest is that Josiah was already a godly king before he heard the book of the covenant read to him. He had already sought to do what was pleasing to God. Yet now in the light of the Word of God, there was a zeal to be about making the necessary changes in the kingdom. Those changes said a lot about the extent to which idolatry was ingrained in the life of the nation. Not only is there a wide range of idols mentioned, but the history of them – idols from Manasseh, Ahaz and going as far back as Jeroboam and even Solomon the last king of the United Tribes of Israel. It is as if no matter how much the likes of Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah had lived for the Lord the people always looked to keep on keeping on with their desire to follow their neighbours.
Josiah’s passion for God was evident in this expression of covenant commitment. Demolishing, destroying, defiling and denouncing anything detestable to God. Such is the thorough manner with which he cleans the country of ungodly worship, no stone is left unturned. Every aspect of worship life is scrutinised to see if it fits with what God requires.
It’s not just the elimination of the ungodly, but the celebration of the godly that marks the reign of Josiah. Here is a man who sets up the celebration of the Passover to be memorable establishing for the people what it means to be recipients of the amazing mercies of God that delivered them from slavery.
All of this reformation and devotion to God is all the more remarkable when it transpires that even this degree of repentance does not avert the judgment of God on Judah. Not only that but the reign of Josiah is the last of a godly king in Judah before the judgment. After him the kings that follow revert to evil.
That does not in the larger picture make Josiah’s efforts worthless. Josiah’s zeal for the Lord would be a template that the next King of the Jews would also express. A passion for God that is to be desired and expressed by all those who have been delivered from slavery to sin and are recipients of the Words of Life.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden