Josiah never knew his great-grandfather Hezekiah, but they were alike in many ways. Both had close, personal relationships with God. Both were passionate reformers, making valiant efforts to lead their people back to God. Both were bright flashes of obedience to God among kings with darkened consciences, who seemed bent on outdoing each other in disobedience and evil.
Although Josiah’s father and grandfather were exceptionally wicked, his life is an example of God’s willingness to provide ongoing guidance to those who set out to be obedient. At a young age, Josiah already understood that there was spiritual sickness in his land. Idols were sprouting in the countryside faster than crops. In a sense, Josiah began his search for God by destroying and cleaning up whatever he recognised as not belonging to the worship of the true God. In the process, God’s word was rediscovered. The king’s intentions and the power of God’s written revelation were brought together.
As the Book of God’s Law was read to Josiah, he was shocked, frightened, and humbled. He realised what a great gap existed between his efforts to lead his people to God and God’s expectations for his chosen nation. He was overwhelmed by God’s holiness and immediately tried to expose his people to that holiness. The people did respond, but the Bible makes it clear that their renewed worship of God was much more out of respect for Josiah than out of personal understanding of their own guilt before God.
How would you describe your relationship with God? Are your feeble efforts at holiness based mostly on a desire to “go along” with a well-liked leader or popular opinion? Or are you, like Josiah, deeply humbled by God’s word, realising that great gap between your life and the kind of life God expects, realising your deep need to be cleansed and renewed by him? Humble obedience pleases God. Good intentions, even reforms, are not enough. You must allow God’s word to truly humble you and change your life.
Strengths and accomplishments:
- Was king of Judah
- Sought after God and was open to him
- Was a reformer like his great-grandfather Hezekiah
- Cleaned out the temple and revived obedience to God’s law
Weakness and mistake:
- Became involved in a military conflict that he had been warned against
Lessons from his life:
- God consistently responds to those with repentant and humble hearts
- Even sweeping outward reforms are of little lasting value if there are no changes in people’s lives
- Where: Jerusalem
- Occupation: 16th king of Judah, the southern kingdom
- Relatives: Father: Amon. Mother: Jedidah. Son: Jehoahaz
- Contemporaries: Jeremiah, Huldah, Hilkiah, Zephaniah
Key verse: “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did – with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses” (2 Kings 23:25).
Josiah’s story is told in 2 Kings 21:24-23:30; 2 Chronicles 33:25-35:26. He is also mentioned in Jeremiah 1:1-3; 22:11, 18.