Josiah was the last of the righteous kings of Judah. He became king at the age of eight, and at about the age of sixteen, he began to passionately pursue a relationship with God and an understanding of His plans. Josiah began to rid Judah of some of the pagan worship and started to rebuild the temple around the age of twenty. He is about 26 years old in the story we'll read today.
Josiah did not have great example to follow when it came to his father or grandfather. They both led the people of Israel into pagan worship. The temple was falling apart and the word of God was forgotten. Every prophet was ignored at this time - prophets like Jeremiah and Habakkuk. You have to go back to his great grandfather King Hezekiah to find a king that was leading God’s people the right way.
Maybe you can relate to Josiah. I know I can. I did not come from a family that pursued God. That came later in life and was modeled through my youth pastors. I also believe the spiritual state of Israel may look a little like America. I believe that it could even reflect the church.
I. The Word brought to light
2 Kings 22:11-13: When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. Then he gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: “Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah. Inquire about the words written in this scroll that has been found. For the Lord’s great anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll. We have not been doing everything it says we must do.”
A. The scrolls had been hidden in the temple. How had they gotten lost?
B. King Josiah hears the word of the Lord and tears his clothes in despair.
Joel 2:12-13: That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.
Rend your hearts and not your garments. The tearing of one’s garment was a common practice in the times of grief and contrition. It symbolized a broken and torn spirit. Joel is calling for Judah to actually experience what this symbolism portrays: hearts that are torn with grief and confession of their sins.
I don’t think there is enough repentance happening in the church. It’s not just about confessing our sins to be saved. I believe the closer we walk with Jesus, the more we will see our flaws and will walk in a greater place of repentance.
C. Josiah inquired of the Lord
Its not just about repentance - it's the transformation that happens through repentance. What did Jesus say to the woman caught in adultery? Go and sin no more.
2 Kings 22:15-17: She said to them, “The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken! Go back and tell the man who sent you, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people. All the words written in the scroll that the king of Judah has read will come true. For my people have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done. My anger will burn against this place, and it will not be quenched.’
God will come and judge the world.
2 Kings 22:19-20: You were sorry and humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I said against this city and its people—that this land would be cursed and become desolate. You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city.’ ”
Because Josiah showed true repentance and he humbled himself, he had peace throughout his reign.
2 Chronicles 7:14: Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.
Matthew 5:8: God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
II. Take immediate action
2 Kings 23:1-3: Then the king summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. And the king went up to the Temple of the Lord with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the Lord’s Temple. The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. In this way, he confirmed all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll, and all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.
A. Josiah gathers everyone together and reads the entire book of the law to them.
- He renews the covenant in the Lord’s presence and pledges to obey the decrees with all his heart and soul. This inspires everyone else make the same pledge.
B. He removes every form of idolatry:
- Articles from the temple that were used to worship Baal
- Priests that led people in idolatry
- Other altar set up for pagan worship
2 Kings 23:4-5: Then the king instructed Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second rank and the Temple gatekeepers to remove from the Lord’s Temple all the articles that were used to worship Baal, Asherah, and all the powers of the heavens. The king had all these things burned outside Jerusalem on the terraces of the Kidron Valley, and he carried the ashes away to Bethel. He did away with the idolatrous priests, who had been appointed by the previous kings of Judah, for they had offered sacrifices at the pagan shrines throughout Judah and even in the vicinity of Jerusalem. They had also offered sacrifices to Baal, and to the sun, the moon, the constellations, and to all the powers of the heavens.
C. He ordered the Passover to be celebrated.
2 Kings 23:21-25: King Josiah then issued this order to all the people: “You must celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as required in this Book of the Covenant.” There had not been a Passover celebration like that since the time when the judges ruled in Israel, nor throughout all the years of the kings of Israel and Judah. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem. Josiah also got rid of the mediums and psychics, the household gods, the idols, and every other kind of detestable practice, both in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah. He did this in obedience to the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the Lord’s Temple. Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.
I love what is says about Josiah in verse 25! Never before has there been a king like Josiah (this includes David) who turned to the Lord with all their heart, soul, and strength, obeying the law.
I believe there is a move of God coming and it will be the greatest move of God that has ever been seen. I also believe it is going to come through this young generation. This generation is a lot like Josiah - they don’t have those great godly role models in their lives. They are trying to pursue God on their own. They are waiting to hear the real Gospel that will radically change their hearts.
The church needs to focus less on being culturally relevant and more bent on getting revelation from God’s Word. God is calling us to a place of repentance and that come when we walk closely with Him.