What were you doing when you were 8? Playing with friends, starting school, spending time with family?
For young Josiah, 8 years old became the age that he became King.
Josiah became King of Judah somewhere around 640 BC. His father and mother had died, leaving the throne to him.Judahhad seen better times –Israel, the northern kingdom, was gone, conquered byAssyria. With a single good king that had any interest in following God in the last century, the people were focused on a lot of things other than serving God. In fact, they had fallen so far away from God that they had allowed the temple – God’s home, the palace of the High King – to deteriorate. They had taken the Ark of the Covenant, the throne of the High King, out of His palace. There were altars and worship sites for false gods everywhere. This is not a situation set up for the 8 year old Josiah to succeed in.
But 2 Chronicles 34:3 says something interesting;
For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father…
Josiah had every reason and every expectation to follow in the sinful path of his predecessors, but against the odds he draws close to God. And it isn’t something he does gently. He destroys everything; all the altars, all the high places. He finds the priests that serve these false gods and he has them put to death. Josiah does something that even most of the good kings in the history ofJudahwere unwilling to do – he purges the entire country of all pagan worship. He then turns his attention toJerusalemand to the temple that had been neglected for decades.
This is where the story gets really interesting, because we find out something that we didn’t know before.
While they were bringing out the money that had been brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given through Moses.
The worship of the Lord had been so neglected that they had lost the Book of the Law, God’s Word to His people! It hadn’t been looked at or thought about for years, and it took a thorough cleaning of the entire temple to find it again!
Here’s another interesting thought. We were told that Josiah started following God when he was 16, and later would purge the country of any who worshiped anything other than the true God of Israel. However, he did this without his version of the Bible to guide him!
So what does Josiah do? He reads it. And the reading of God’s word has an effect on Josiah.
And when the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes. (v 19)
Josiah had known things were bad, but in hearing the reading of God’s Law, he realized how far his people had fallen away from God. He also recognized that God had warned them of consequences of not following Him. Josiah sees this and seeks God’s leading for himself and for his people, and he leads a revival in his country. With the Word of God at the center of the movement, the people once again became the people of God. The chapter ends with the following line;
And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people ofIsraeland made all who were present inIsraelserve the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord, the God of their fathers. (v 33)
All this started with one man who chose to follow God. His heart was right, and God used him. But what was the catalyst for the renewal of the nation? The Word of God. Josiah had gotten rid of the objects that were leading the people astray, but it wasn’t until God’s Law was presented that the people returned to the worship of the Lord. It wasn’t until it was read and the covenant was renewed that it was written that the people continued to follow the Lord.
It can be easy to look at the story and wonder how they could just forget about the Lord, even to the point of completely losing the Book of the Law. It just wasn’t important to them. It wasn’t a priority to hear it, learn from it, or take it seriously. Slowly, over time, it was minimized, then forgotten.
But we often do the same thing – we have the full Bible, God’s great revelation that has been given to us. We usually have several copies lying around, but we end up taking the Bible for granted. We don’t consciously reject it, we just push it to the side, we tell ourselves we are too busy for it right now and we’ll get to it later. Our time with God’s Word slowly dwindles as it takes a back seat to other priorities in our life, and we find ourselves rapidly approaching the same place that the people in Josiah’s time were at – a place where the true God isn’t on our radar, but there are lots of other gods that we will worship, like money, power, popularity, pleasure, etc.
I challenge you to get out of your rut and get deep into the Word of God. Set aside a month to focus on reading and learning from a daily study of the Bible. Pray that God would use the time to teach you, to grow and stretch you, and most importantly to draw you closer to Him.
I challenged my youth to do this recently, and I have around a dozen that have committed to read the New Testament in a month. Join us! Between now (Tuesday, March 06) and one month from today (Tuesday, April 3), read through the New Testament. That would be an average of a little more than 9 chapters a day. Post on the comments page here to let others know you are doing it, and encourage each other in the process. Get others on board, and see what God does with you when you spend the time committing to a closer relationship with Him. You will be blessed!
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.