Article: JOSIAH A MAN TO EMULATE! | Roykollaka
Before we look deeper into who Josiah is, let’s briefly consider the history of the kings of Israel and Judah. After David died, his son Solomon became the king of a united Israel. After Solomon’s death, the kingdom was split into two kingdoms. The Northern Kingdom was referred to as Israel and was comprised of ten tribes. The Southern Kingdom was referred to as Judah and was comprised of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. What was most common in the succession of kings that followed David is the kings did not obey God as David did, and most of them did evil in the eyes of the Lord. This was true of many of the kings in Judah and all the kings of Israel. Not even one king in Israel did right in God’s sight from the time the kingdom was separated until their captivity. Judah’s situation was slightly better, and Josiah was one of the kings of Judah who followed God with all his heart. Josiah was born during a turbulent time in Judah’s history. The people of the land were moving away from God. Idol worship become common and the Lord’s anger burned against the people. During the reign of Manasseh, (Josiah’s grandfather) Judah followed detestable practices of idolatrous nations. 2 Kings 21:6 says “The king sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced divination, sought omens, and consulted mediums and spirits. He did much evil in the eyes of the Lord, arousing his anger.”
King Amon, Josiah’s biological father, is also recorded in the Bible as worshipping idols and disobeying the Lord. Josiah would have grown up in the palace watching his family committing sinful acts and moving away from God. Josiah become a king at the tender age of eight years old and was as a king who reigned in Judah for thirty-one years. (2 Kings 22:1) I am not sure what it feels like to be the ruler of a kingdom at eight years old. I remember when I was eight, I was running around and playing with friends. I was happy because we didn’t get homework on the weekends. However, Josiah was in a much different position.
As we look into his life, there are two questions to consider: Who is Josiah in the Bible, and what can we learn from his life? It is great to learn about the characters in the Bible; however, the learning is not complete unless we take lessons from their experiences and apply them to our life. In the life of Josiah, these lessons allow us to know who he is and gives us information on how we should live. Josiah’s story is told in two places in the Bible, in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35. When we read both the accounts of his life, the details are similar but reading both gives us a complete perspective of his life.
Here are some of the lessons we can learn from the life of Josiah:
1. Josiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord; He started right and finished right.
Here is the first thing the Bible tells us about Josiah and his character. In 2 Kings 22:2 we read, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David completely, not turning aside to the right or the left.” I love the description we see here about Josiah’s life in this verse. A few phrases about Josiah give the foundation of who he is. As we consider them, ask ourselves if these things can be said of us. There we see: He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, He followed the ways of God completely, and He did not turn aside from it to the right or left. It is so impressive to see this young man’s dedication to follow God with all his heart and he never wavered. He didn’t just start well; he also finished well. Think of our own lives for a moment and ask ourself this question. Are we on track to finish well? I know there is always a lot of enthusiasm at the beginning of our journey with the Lord, but sometimes it can get stripped along the way. This happened to some of the other kings of Judah that started off following God but did not finish well. Josiah was not one of those and that is why when reference is made to Josiah’s father, it is David who is mentioned. It is indeed a high compliment. Of course, he was born into the Judean royalty lineage of David. Let us make sure that we are the type of Christians who will be faithful and endure to the end.
2 Josiah was comfortable standing out from the crowd.
Another lesson we can learn from King Josiah is that he had the courage to stand out and do what was right in the eyes of the Lord. Often in life, we face pressures to follow the crowd. When we are young, we tend to imitate our parents. As we become teenagers, peer pressure becomes stronger. This is where young Christians face difficulty in decision making. Should they get drunk and party overnight with their friends or stay at home? Would it be okay if they skipped church and went for a movie or a beach party? As we grow older, the tendency to follow the crowd still remains whether at work or home. To stand out is scary even if it is the right thing to do. It requires courage and faith. It means saying “no” to everyone and everything that is striving our attention away from the knowledge that God is enough for us. Josiah had to make a stand against his family and all the people of Judah who were bowing down to idols and practicing foretelling. He made the brave decision to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and to set about destroying the idols, Asherah poles, and those who burned incense to these idols in high places.
3. Josiah’s heart was tender to the Word of God.
2 Kings 22:11 says, “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.” This really points us to the heart of who Josiah is? This happened when he was twenty-six years old, and this is how he responded. Whenever someone tore their robes, that was an expression of deep sorrow and pain. It could be mourning the loss of someone or something or mourning over sin. Here we see a tremendous and proper response Josiah had when confronted with the truth of God’s Word. It made him aware of how far off the mark, he and the nation of Judah were. His response was ‘not to justify or attempt to clarify; but was to rectify’. He did this by repenting. Think about our reaction when confronted with any thought, opinion, belief, or action that is contrary to what God requires in His Word? Is your reaction similar to Josiah’s? I fear the church in today’s time is moving in a direction where instead of being people who mourn, weep, or repent over sin, too many believers are far more comfortable trying to find an excuse or reason to stay in it. This was not Josiah’s heart but his heart was tender to the Word of God.
4 Josiah confessed his sins in humility and removed evil from his sight.
The Bible says that when Josiah heard the words of the law, he cried and tore his robes. When Josiah heard of the Lord’s anger against his ancestors he repented and interceded for them. In 2 Kings 22:19, we see “Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people…. and because you tore your clothes and wept in my presence, I have heard you’ declares the Lord.” The Lord delayed judgment on Judah only because of Josiah’s humility and repentance. Josiah renewed his covenant with the Lord to follow all His commands and love the Lord with all his heart, soul, and mind. This action encouraged all the people of Judah to follow his lead. But Josiah didn’t stop there. He put his words into action. Josiah burned all the articles made for idols and the starry hosts. He did away with idolatrous priests. He destroyed the Asherah poles and the shrines of the prostitutes. He also destroyed the high places where people worshipped God instead of the dedicated altar in Jerusalem. In those days, people sacrificed their own children in the fire to Molek (2 Kings 21:16). Josiah got rid of the site so that nobody could sacrifice their children there.
5. Josiah’s repentance led to reform and action.
I love Josiah in the Bible because his repentance led him to change his behavior. It is important to note that Josiah was already doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet when confronted with God’s Word, he recognized there was more need for change, leading him to repent, reform and act. His repentance led him to change his ways and the nation’s practices. He has done certain things as part of his repentance. He renewed the covenant by pledging to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees and led the people in doing the same. He removed all the articles of worship to Baal, Asherah, and any other gods that was in the temple and had them burned. He removed the idolatrous priests and burned the Asherah pole. He tore down the living quarters of the male and female shrine prostitutes who lived inside the Temple of the Lord. The bottom line is, his repentance was not a lip service but it was life service. His repentance led to a noticeable change in his life. This leads to another question; how often do we give God lip service instead of life service? If we are going to be people of repentance, it will require tearing down some idols we have kept in our life. These idols can come in all shapes and sizes in our life. Let it be that whatever idol God reveals to us, we would repent and burn them all down.
I want to conclude with this thought that Josiah is a man we can emulate and remain faithful to God throughout our life. Josiah was faithful though unfortunately Amon, his biological father was not faithful to God, and neither was his grandfather. Yet those things did not discourage Josiah. This gives us hope that our circumstances and life situations do not define us; but our choices do. Despite what has happened in our life, we can choose to be the same kind of person Josiah was. It is easy to confess our sins to God and then do nothing about it. If we do not remove temptations from our lives then our confession is just empty words. We need to make the effort to remove anything from our lives that can separate us from God. Philippians 4:7 says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” Josiah was one such person. His life was one of complete dedication to the Lord. He was comfortable standing out from the crowd. He humbled himself before the Lord and confessed his sins. He put his words into action and removed evil from his sight. In our daily lives, let us also emulate this man of God.