King Josiah of Judah
(2 Chronicles 34.1,2)
1 Josiah was 8 years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled 31 years from Jerusalem. His mother Jedidah was the daughter of Adaiah from Bozkath. 2Josiah always obeyed the Lord, just as his ancestor David had done.
(2 Chronicles 34.8-28)
3After Josiah had been king for 18 years, he told Shaphan, one of his highest officials:
Go to the Lord's temple 4and ask Hilkiah the high priest to collect from the guards all the money that the people have donated. 5Tell Hilkiah to give it to the men supervising the repairs to the temple. They can use some of the money to pay 6the workers, and with the rest of it they can buy wood and stone for the repair work. 7 They are honest, so we won't ask them to keep track of the money.
8While Shaphan was at the temple, Hilkiah handed him a book and said, “Look what I found here in the temple—The Book of God's Law.”
Shaphan read it, 9then went back to Josiah and reported, “Your officials collected the money in the temple and gave it to the men supervising the repairs. 10But there's something else, Your Majesty. The priest Hilkiah gave me this book.” Then Shaphan read it out loud.
11When Josiah heard what was in The Book of God's Law, he tore his clothes in sorrow. 12At once he called together Hilkiah, Shaphan, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Achbor son of Micaiah, and his own servant Asaiah. He said, 13“The Lord must be furious with me and everyone else in Judah, because our ancestors did not obey the laws written in this book. Go find out what the Lord wants us to do.”
14The five men left at once and went to talk with Huldah the prophet. Her husband was Shallum, who was in charge of the king's clothes. Huldah lived in the northern part of Jerusalem, and when they met in her home, 15she said:
You were sent here by King Josiah, and this is what the Lord God of Israel says to him: 16“Josiah, I am the Lord! And I will see to it that this country and everyone living in it will be destroyed. It will happen just as this book says. 17The people of Judah have rejected me. They have offered sacrifices to foreign gods and have worshiped their own idols. I cannot stand it any longer. I am furious.
18“Josiah, listen to what I am going to do. 19I noticed how sad you were when you read that this country and its people would be completely wiped out. You even tore your clothes in sorrow, and I heard you cry. 20So I will let you die in peace, before I destroy this place.”
The men left and took Huldah's answer back to Josiah.
King Josiah of Judah
(2 Kings 22.1,2)
1 Josiah was 8 years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled 31 years from Jerusalem. 2He followed the example of his ancestor David and always obeyed the Lord.
Josiah Stops the Worship
(2 Kings 23.4-20)
3When Josiah was only 16 years old he began worshiping God, just as his ancestor David had done. Then, 4 years later, he decided to destroy the local shrines in Judah and Jerusalem, as well as the sacred poles for worshiping the goddess Asherah and the idols of foreign gods. 4 He watched as the altars for the worship of the god Baal were torn down, and as the nearby incense altars were smashed. The Asherah poles, the idols, and the stone images were also smashed, and the pieces were scattered over the graves of their worshipers. 5 Josiah then had the bones of the pagan priests burned on the altars.
And so Josiah got rid of the worship of foreign gods in Judah and Jerusalem. 6He did the same things in the towns and ruined villages in the territories of West Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as the border of Naphtali. 7Everywhere in the northern kingdom of Israel, Josiah tore down pagan altars and Asherah poles; he crushed idols to dust and smashed incense altars.
Then Josiah went back to Jerusalem.
(2 Kings 22.3-20)
8In the eighteenth year of Josiah's rule in Judah, after he had removed all the sinful things from the land and from the Lord's temple, he sent three of his officials to repair the temple. They were Shaphan son of Azaliah, Governor Maaseiah of Jerusalem, and Joah son of Joahaz, who kept the government records.
9These three men went to Hilkiah the high priest. They gave him the money that the Levite guards had collected from the people of West Manasseh, Ephraim, and the rest of Israel, as well as those living in Judah, Benjamin, and Jerusalem. 10Then the money was turned over to the men who supervised the repairs to the temple. They used some of it to pay the workers, 11and they gave the rest of it to the carpenters and builders, who used it to buy the stone and wood they needed to repair the other buildings that Judah's kings had not taken care of.
12The workers were honest, and their supervisors were Jahath and Obadiah from the Levite clan of Merari, and Zechariah and Meshullam from the Levite clan of Kohath. Other Levites, who were all skilled musicians, 13were in charge of carrying supplies and supervising the workers. Other Levites were appointed to stand guard around the temple.
14While the money was being given to these supervisors, Hilkiah found the book that contained the laws that the Lord had given to Moses. 15Hilkiah handed the book to Shaphan the official and said, “Look what I found here in the temple—The Book of God's Law.”
16Shaphan took the book to Josiah and reported, “Your officials are doing everything you wanted. 17They have collected the money from the temple and have given it to the men supervising the repairs. 18But there's something else, Your Majesty. The priest Hilkiah gave me this book.” Then Shaphan read it aloud.
19When Josiah heard what was in The Book of God's Law, he tore his clothes in sorrow. 20At once he called together Hilkiah, Shaphan, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah, and his own servant Asaiah. He said, 21“The Lord must be furious with me and everyone else in Israel and Judah, because our ancestors did not obey the laws written in this book. Go find out what the Lord wants us to do.”
22Hilkiah and the four other men left at once and went to talk with Huldah the prophet. Her husband was Shallum, who was in charge of the king's clothes. Huldah lived in the northern part of Jerusalem, and when they met in her home, 23she said:
You were sent here by King Josiah, and this is what the Lord God of Israel says to him: 24“Josiah, I am the Lord! And I intend to punish this country and everyone in it, just as this book says. 25The people of Judah and Israel have rejected me. They have offered sacrifices to foreign gods and have worshiped their own idols. I can't stand it any longer. I am furious.
26-27“Josiah, listen to what I am going to do. I noticed how sad you were when you heard that this country and its people would be completely wiped out. You even tore your clothes in sorrow, and I heard you cry. 28So before I destroy this place, I will let you die in peace.”
The men left and reported to Josiah what Huldah had said.
Just like in Josiah’s day, it had been there all the time. In a safe place, in plain sight. In fact it had become a fixture, referenced in conversations, but never once opened and read. People thought they knew what it contained or that it held no relevance to their lives. There were a few people “of the book” who actually took the time to read it. Everyone knew who these people were, and ignored or ridiculed them. Until one day, when one of these people finally had the courage to take the book from its safe place, and say “you might want to read this”.
The contents of the book were earth-shattering and terrifying … a just, holy and righteous God who audaciously claims to be your creator, who has laid out a code of conduct, complete with terrifying consequences. There seemed to be only two choices. One could burn the book in the hope that it was just another work of fiction from a delusional mind. Or one could humbly seek guidance as to what one needed to do to avoid the consequences.
In seeking wisdom and understanding, grace will be discovered, for there is more to the story. This is the story of a loving heavenly Father who notices humility, a man of sorrows acquainted with grief, a Savior who hears the cry “Lord forgive me, for I have sinned”. A God of grace who asks for nothing more than repentance and who freely gives forgiveness, who freely died for us so that we might live.
What was once treated as unimportant will be discovered to be eternally important. What had been deemed irrelevant surprisingly contains grace and hope for every circumstance today and tomorrow!
Take and read this book … you might be surprised by who you find in it.
Our Father, We thank you for your book which is sharper than a two edged sword piercing joint and marrow. May your word pierce the hard shell of sin in our lives allowing your grace to cleanse our hearts, through the blood of Jesus Christ whom you raised from the dead. Amen.