When God’s Word is taken seriously, believers passionately stand up for what’s right.
2 Kings 23:25 – “Before [Josiah] there was no king like him who turned to Yahweh with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength according to all the law of Moses, and no one like him arose after him.”
This account of King Josiah demonstrates the extreme vigilance with which Josiah eradicated idolatrous practices within Israel. Prior to his reign, under the wicked King Manasseh, the nation had fallen into some of the deepest levels of idolatry over a period of over fifty years. The wickedness was so great that God sent prophets to warn of the impending destruction if they did not repent.
2 Kings 21:10-12 – “Yahweh said through his servants the prophets, ‘Since King Manasseh of Judah has committed all these detestable acts – worse evil than the Amorites who preceded him had done – and by means of his idols has also caused Judah to sin, ‘this is what Yahweh God of Israel says: ‘I am about to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that everyone who hears about it will shudder.'”
The text then goes on to list all of the judgment that was about to be brought against Israel for their unfaithfulness. After Manasseh’s death, his son Amon continued the reign of wickedness for another two years, until his own servants conspired against him and put him to death. It is then that his son Josiah took to the throne at the tender age of eight years old.
However, eighteen years after his reign began, a discovery was made in the temple that had been long lost through the generations of idolatry: a copy of the book of the law was found. When it was read in the presence of the king, the text says he tore his clothes, which was a common indication of utter despair and repentance before God.
2 Kings 22:11, 13 – “When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. … ‘Go and inquire of Yahweh for me, the people, and all Judah about the words in this book that has been found. For great is Yahweh’s wrath that is kindled against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words of this book in order to do everything written about us.'”
Josiah then carries out a monumental campaign to eradicate all forms of idolatry in the precincts of the temple and throughout the land. Almost the entire next chapter relates his purification efforts in detail:
- Destruction of all idolatrous materials that had been brought into the temple
- Removal of all idolatrous priests, slaughtering them and burning their bones on their own idolatrous altars
- Destruction of the houses of cultic participants
- Destruction of the high places of idolatrous worship including Molech, Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Milcom, and the worship of the sun
- Destruction of all of the idolatrous altars wherever they were to be found
- He eradicated all mediums, spiritists, household idols and images everywhere in Judah and Jerusalem.
He then commands that the Passover be held that year, since Passover had not been celebrated according to the book of the law for generations. It was the most well-attested Passover in the history of Israel.
2 Kings 23:22 – “No such Passover had ever been observed from the time of the judges who judged Israel through the entire time of the kings of Israel and Judah.”
Through all of this, it becomes apparent that all of this reform was sparked by a reading of the book of the law. When the God’s Word is read, internalized, and believed in the heart, it causes a burning desire to honor him in every way possible, and to remove every hindrance that detracts from his glory.
If only our passion, zeal, and vigilance were as committed as Josiah’s, we would have believers rising up, not to destroy and eradicate physical things or people, but to destroy the arguments and justifications that the world uses to reject God and his Word.
As the apostle Paul writes:
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – For although we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every proud thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Messiah.
This is the level of vigilance needed of believers to turn this world of rebellion to obedience within the kingdom of God through the power of his Spirit.
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