2 Kings 22:11–13; 23:1–3, 10, 24–25comment (0)
January 13, 2011
By Jay T. Robertson
Related Scripture: 2 Kings 22:11–13; 23:1–3, 10, 24–25
Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
BUILDING A CULTURE OF LIFE
2 Kings 22:11–13; 23:1–3, 10, 24–25
Follow the Right Blueprint (22:11–13)
Josiah became king at age 8 when his father, Amon, was assassinated. He reigned from 640 to 609 B.C. Josiah’s defining moment occurred in the 18th year of his reign when he was 26 years old. He had become unsettled by the state of the temple. He commissioned his secretary, Shaphan, to direct Hilkiah the priest to initiate a program of repair. In the course of cleaning the temple, a remarkable event occurred. Hilkiah discovered the Book of the Law, which contained at least the Book of Deuteronomy and perhaps the entire first five books of the Old Testament. It is hard to imagine such an important scroll being lost until it is remembered that the pagan worship of Manasseh and Amon would have no use for such a book since it condemned all they were doing. It had first been ignored, then neglected and finally lost. Hilkiah gave the Book of the Law to Shaphan, and he read it to Josiah. The message of God’s Word penetrated Josiah’s heart deeply, and upon hearing it, he tore his clothes. Tearing one’s garments was a sign of grief, and this was due to Josiah’s recognition of the way his nation had disobeyed the requirements of God’s covenant and come under His judgment. Josiah commissioned a team of highly respected officials “to inquire of the Lord” for him and the people of Judah. It went to Huldah the prophetess to seek prophetic insight. Josiah was convinced that what he had heard was bad news for his nation. He was overwhelmed with the realization of the guilt of his people. He did not try to pass the buck or play the blame game; he recognized the nation’s corporate responsibility for its sins. An essential element of renewal is that we see ourselves in the light of God’s Word and respond appropriately.
Encourage Others’ Involvement (23:1–3)
Josiah could have received the prophetess’s words with selfish gratitude and fatalistic resignation. That, however, was not the kind of man he was. He now understood what the Lord required and was determined to honor Him by doing all that he could to bring the nation into conformity to His will. He would lead it in a process of spiritual renewal and reformation. He gathered all the people, “both small and great,” and publicly read “all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord.” For the first time in at least 65 years, the people heard God’s Word read publicly. Not content simply to read the Law, Josiah stood by the pillar of the temple, as Joash had done at his coronation (2 Kings 11:14), and made a covenant with the Lord to walk with Him and obey His commandments. God’s revelation requires a response. Josiah pledged to lead the people of Judah in living in accordance with God’s commands.
Protect Children’s Well-being (23:10)
Josiah’s reforms touched every part of the nation, but the temple received special attention. He cleansed the temple of Baal and Asherah worship. He also attacked Topheth, a pagan altar to the god Molech. This grotesque shrine was where children were sacrificed to the false god. Josiah put an end to the slaughter of innocent children in Judah. Many do not realize that we have our own “altar of Topheth.” There are about 3,000 abortions a day in the United States and 125,000 a day worldwide. That means that the horrific reality of Haiti’s earthquake last Jan. 12 happens every day in abortion clinics around the world. Followers of Christ must work to protect not only the unborn but children from threats such as domestic abuse and gang violence. Believers can volunteer to serve at crisis pregnancy centers and domestic violence shelters. We must move into action if we are going to help build a culture of life in our nation.
Keep Your Heart in It (23:24–25)
Josiah finished well. The year 622 B.C. had been a glorious one for spiritual renewal in Judah. But Josiah continued his faithful walk with the Lord. He dealt with other abuses in Judah that displeased the Lord. He turned to the Lord with all his heart, soul and might in obedience to what Jesus called the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37–38; Deut. 6:5).