Today: [2 Chronicles Thirty-Four] Josiah Rules and Reigns. In this chapter we find Josiah at the tender age of 8 years old coming to the throne. He commands the temple to be restored and the idols to be ground to powder. He uncovers in the dust of the archives a 200 year old prophecy that calls him by name as the reformer of Judah. He sees in the neglected law of Moses a reflection of the deplorable condition of the people. A prophet is found in the person of a little coat check girl at the college in Jerusalem and righteousness is restored to the people in a covenant of obedience that stems the impending judgment of Judah in Josiah’s lifetime.
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[2Ch 34:1-33 KJV] 1 Josiah [was] eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years. 2 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. 3 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. 4 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. 5 And he burnt the bones of the priests upon their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. 6 And [so did he] in the cities of Manasseh, and Ephraim, and Simeon, even unto Naphtali, with their mattocks round about. 7 And when he had broken down the altars and the groves, and had beaten the graven images into powder, and cut down all the idols throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem. 8 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. 9 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.
The description of the reign of Josiah by the chronicler is almost an exact quote from 2 Kings 22:1. Josiah’s life was one of undeviating faithfulness to God as he declined neither to the right hand or to the left of all that God required of him. Though very young his heart was fixed on the things of God as 2 Kings 22 reveals under the guidance and influence of his mother Jedidiah. The interesting thing is that one of the prophets from decades before had come from Judah to the corrupt altar at Bethel in the north and given the following prophecy:
[1Ki 13:2 KJV] 2 And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee.
It is upon this prophecy that Josiah staked his claim to destiny. He set about bringing these words to pass given almost 200 years before by an unknown prophet. Believe the prophets so shall you prosper. Josiah’s father Amon was an evil king assassinated by his subject. His grandfather Manasseh was a weak leader who came to faith late in life. Josiah was not bound to either of his sires but put his trust in God. You may feel that you are bound by your lineage or circumstances of birth but if you trust in God and believe the prophets He has placed in your life you can break the cycle of failure and establish a stellar testimony of victory and fidelity to God.
Josiah not only pulled down the groves and high places but he beat their images to powder. He sent faithful men into Ephraim and Mannasseh and throughout the southern kingdom and they gathered the money from willing hearts to repair and restore the house of God and remediate the disrepair there.
10 And they put [it] in the hand of the workmen that had the oversight of the house of the LORD, and they gave it to the workmen that wrought in the house of the LORD, to repair and amend the house: 11 Even to the artificers and builders gave they [it], to buy hewn stone, and timber for couplings, and to floor the houses which the kings of Judah had destroyed. 12 And the men did the work faithfully: and the overseers of them [were] Jahath and Obadiah, the Levites, of the sons of Merari; and Zechariah and Meshullam, of the sons of the Kohathites, to set [it] forward; and [other of] the Levites, all that could skill of instruments of musick. 13 Also [they were] over the bearers of burdens, and [were] overseers of all that wrought the work in any manner of service: and of the Levites [there were] scribes, and officers, and porters. 14 And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of the LORD [given] by Moses. 15 And Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD. And Hilkiah delivered the book to Shaphan. 16 And Shaphan carried the book to the king, and brought the king word back again, saying, All that was committed to thy servants, they do [it]. 17 And they have gathered together the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers, and to the hand of the workmen. 18 Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath given me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. 19 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes. 20 And the king commanded Hilkiah, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Abdon the son of Micah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king’s, saying, 21 Go, enquire of the LORD for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great [is] the wrath of the LORD that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do after all that is written in this book.
Josiah oversees the work of restoring the temple and in the midst of the renovation a book is found. At first it seems that they don’t know what they have uncovered but the scribes pouring over its contents realize it is the book of Moses. What an astounding thing that not since the days of Jehoshaphat apparently had the book of the law even come into the minds of the people. Josiah is deeply grieved when he hears the law read out as he realizes how far into transgression he and the people are if they are to be judged by it’s contents.
For us remember that we are the temple of God. There are times that the temple in us is found in disrepair. It was said in the midst of the work that it was the kings in Judah not just invaders and conquerors who had destroyed the temple. We can blame our condition on our enemies but we wreak havoc on our own lives far more than the devil ever could. In the midst of recovery when you begin again to focus on the fact that you are the temple of God in your own person you will discover and again become a people of the book. It is the bane of Christian Culture that we garnish our lives with the scriptures that we do not read and study. When revival finds your soul you will once again become a people of the book.
Remember that every life is driven by a narrative. We are either influenced by the 24 hour news cycle, or popular culture, or the rumor mill at work or at church but every one of us in life will find our lives played out according to a narrative that either originates in the domain of darkness or the kingdom of light. Josiah is shocked to see how deeply the darkness had encroached the kingdom and in fact his own life. What is the solution? Is it just reformation on our own terms? Josiah determines and begins with reacquainting himself and the people with the book of God. Make up your mind that your starting place however difficult it may seem is to return to the book and to become a people of the book. Then afterwards Josiah sends for word from a prophet because the enormity of the transgression is more than he can wrap his mind around – he wants to know the mind of God.
22 And Hilkiah, and [they] that the king [had appointed], went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college:) and they spake to her to that [effect]. 23 And she answered them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell ye the man that sent you to me, 24 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, [even] all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah: 25 Because they have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands; therefore my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, and shall not be quenched. 26 And as for the king of Judah, who sent you to enquire of the LORD, so shall ye say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel [concerning] the words which thou hast heard; 27 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. 28 Behold, I will gather thee to thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered to thy grave in peace, neither shall thine eyes see all the evil that I will bring upon this place, and upon the inhabitants of the same. So they brought the king word again. 29 Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 And the king went up into the house of the LORD, and all the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the priests, and the Levites, and all the people, great and small: and he read in their ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the LORD. 31 And the king stood in his place, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in this book. 32 And he caused all that were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand [to it]. And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. 33 And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that [pertained] to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, [even] to serve the LORD their God. [And] all his days they departed not from following the LORD, the God of their fathers.
Josiah commands that a prophet be consulted and the only one that can be found is a young wife – a coat check girl at the college in Jerusalem. Isaiah is gone – all the great prophets and there was none left but this one young woman. You may be a checker in the grocery store, or just a young wife trying to raise her children but know this God has a way to put you before kings. Even though Huldah comes from humble circumstances she boldly speaks to the king without intimidation. The city will be destroyed. The kingdom will be reduced and taken into captivity. Why? Is God being cruel? Remember that they are under the law. The law was given because man in the partaking of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thought he could be like God – independent of God. Never forget that all Judah had was the blood of bulls and goats. God is preparing humanity for the lamb that would take away the sins of the world by enforcing to them the inability of man to satisfy the attributes of God independent of God. Man needs a savior.
Josiah responds to Huldah’s prophecy and takes it as a bridge of clarification between the ancient book which he struggled to understand and the prophetic word which dictates a clear expectation. He calls the people into a covenant of faithfulness to God and in his lifetime, in Josiah’s lifetime the scourge of idolatry is staunched and faithfulness again is seen in the land of Judah.
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