What were the events that led to King Josiah’s reforms?

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King Josiah reigned over Judah from 640 – 609 B.C. at the young age of eight years old (2 Kings 22:1). This occurred  after the assassination of his wicked father Amon (2 Kings 21:19-23).  From that early age, king Josiah began to seek after the Lord (2 Chronicles 34:3).  Hence, he was of a deeply religious conviction since a very young age. In spite of the prevailing apostasy, he did not yield to temptation.

Following in the Right Footsteps

Like his great-grandfather Hezekiah, he established great religious reforms throughout Judah. This extended even into the remnants of the House of Israel.

This is in contrast to the great apostasy that occurred between the reign of these two kings. After Hezekiah, his son Manasseh became king at the age of 12, but he did much evil. Not only did he rebuild the high places of idol worship that his father destroyed, but he built alters within the house of God. He even practiced pagan rituals of sacrificing his own children and performed in all kinds of sorcery. He was a murderer of the innocent and influenced the nation for evil. Sadly, the people of Israel went along with these terrible practices and did not repent when warned by God’s prophets. Therefore, God sentenced a punishment on Israel.

Sadly, Manasseh reigned for 55 years in rebellion until his death. Subsequently, his son Amon became king and did the same evils of his father. He was killed after only two years (2 Kings 21). Thus, when Josiah became king, the nation of Israel was in a very poor condition.

Events that Led to Reforms Summarized                               (2 Kings 22 and 23; 2 Chron. 34 and 35)

  1. In the 18th year of his rule, at the age of 26, Josiah sent Shaphan the scribe to tell the high priest to “sum the silver” (2 Kings 22:4). The temple doorkeepers gathered the silver to make preparations for repairing the Temple.
  2. “When they brought out the money” (2 Chron. 34:14) they discovered the book of the law.
  3. Hilkiah the priest gave the book to Shaphan to read it.
  4. Shaphan came before the king and proclaimed that they collected the money and gave it to the people in charge of the repairs. Then, he read the newly discovered book to the king.
  5. The king sent high officials to inquire of Huldah the prophetess.
  6. Josiah called to the Temple “all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem” and “all the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” as well as “all the people, great and small” (2 Chron. 34:29, 30). Upon their gathering, he read the book to them. As a result, the people made a covenant with the Lord to obey what was written in the book.
  7. Josiah “took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel” (2 Chron. 34:33). The campaign was thorough and widespread (2 Kings 23:4–20).
  8. Josiah commanded the people to observe the Passover “as it is written in the book of this covenant” (2 Kings 23:21).
  9. The nation kept the Passover according to God’s instruction on the 14th of the 1st month of the same 18th year (2 Chron. 35:1, 19). And that feast was the greatest ever held in the nation.
  10. In Josiah’s time, God’s punishment of Israel was delayed and the nation experienced peace during his reign (2 Kings 22:18-20)

Conclusion

Clearly, Josiah’s heart was set to do God’s will. Thus, he became one of Judah’s strongest spiritual leaders and served the Lord with humility, obedience and faithfulness. He became the only king that “did not turn aside” but did what is right in the sight of the Lord (2 Kings 22: 2).

May we learn from the history of Israel’s kings and choose to be like king Josiah. Although he faced generations of evil, he did what was right and held the blessing of peace.

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” (1 Peter 2:9).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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