“Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. And he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin take a stand. So the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers” (2 Chronicles 34:31-32).
The king mentioned in the opening verses above was King Josiah, ruler of Judah. He was only 8 years old when he became king and he was the last of the godly rulers in Judah (2 Chronicles 34:1-2). He purged Judah and Jerusalem of idolatry and at the age of 26, in the eighteenth year of his reign, he began to once again repair the house of the Lord (2 Chronicles 34:3-13). While repairing the temple, Hilkiah the priest informs the king’s servant Shaphan they had found among the debris in the temple “the Book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses” (2 Chronicles 34:14).
Shaphan reads the book to the king (2 Chronicles 34:15-18). The king is distressed when he hears the Word of God from the book and says, “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for those who are left in Israel and Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book" (2 Chronicles 34:21). Huldah the prophetess tells them God’s wrath will come upon Jerusalem because they had forsaken Him but adds that because King Josiah’s heart was “tender” and he had “humbled” himself before the Lord, he would not experience God’s judgment upon the kingdom during his lifetime, but he would die in peace (2 Chronicles 34:22-28).
King Josiah then begins to restore his people’s relationship with God. He gathers the people together and has the Book of the Law of the Lord read to them. As the opening verses above describe, the king then takes a stand upon God’s Word to keep God’s commandments and he makes his people take a stand to follow God (2 Chronicles 34:31-32). During this same year, he and his people keep a great Passover feast to the Lord (2 Chronicles 35:1-19). The summary of his great reign reads like this: “Thus Josiah removed all the abominations from all the country that belonged to the children of Israel and made all who were present in Israel diligently serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not depart from following the Lord God of their fathers” (2 Chronicles 34:33).
During the last years of the kingdom of Judah, God’s prophet’s like Jeremiah had been calling for God’s people to return to following God’s Word. However, the people did not respond favorably: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.’ But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'” (Jeremiah 6:16). King Josiah was a noble exception to this typical reaction of God’s people during these times.
I appreciate Josiah’s noble heart and his desire to stand upon God’s Word. I have been blessed to be a part of a church which does not constantly seek “to try some new thing” but seeks to follow the example of the 1st century church and the simplicity of their worship and service to God. Today, I rejoice that God has given us His Word to guide us. Like King Josiah I will strive to seek the old paths and take my stand upon God and what His Word teaches!
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’" (Romans 1:16-17).