Finally, after decades of ruthless and rotten kings, Judah gets a good king, one who does what is pleasing in the Lord’s eyes. It’s a magical story, really. After years of neglect and abandonment, the Temple finally gets a facelift, and King Josiah makes the restoration in the same fashion that his great-great-great (I think) grandfather Hezekiah did: he took money designated for the Temple’s restoration and used it to hire laborers and buy materials from the community.
Only King Josiah went about business a little differently. He didn’t hold the construction supervisors accountable for their earnings, “for they are honest and trustworthy men (v. 7).” I just thought that was a bit peculiar, but since the text didn’t elaborate on it, I tried not to read too much into it.
Anyhow, as these men are restoring the Temple – and keep in mind the Temple has suffered great neglect through the years – they uncover an old scroll, left from who knows when but possibly back when King Ahaz was on the throne (because he started all this hiding and hoarding stuff and bad king business way back when), that says God is going to wreak some havoc because the people of Judah, particularly its rulership, have completely crossed the line.
Well, poor King Josiah has NO idea that God has EVER been this upset with Judah. Look at how old he was when he took the throne: he was just 8. He probably didn’t know his dad well, and it could maybe be assumed that his mother did not either, which was a great thing because neither of them followed the way of the evil king. Another thing that could be assumed is that Josiah’s mother was one of the remnants from Jerusalem who still honored the Lord, and she made sure to bring her son up loving and obeying Him, too. Those might be big assumptions, but they are realistic, and considering the state that Judah is in right now, it makes sense, and Josiah has every right to panic.
Now, God makes it very clear in the words on the scroll that Judah is doomed. And didn’t you just love the build-up to the moment? By verse 13 I was like, “Just tell me what the scroll says already, will ya???” God then backs up his adamance through the prophet Huldah (A LADY PROPHET, YOU GUYS!), who lives in the New Quarter of Jerusalem. Did you catch that, the New Quarter? I took this to mean that Jerusalem, despite its downfalls, is growing and expanding, most likely because of increased commerce, but that’s another story and just something I wanted to point out. Back to Huldah, the lady prophet, who (I wish was more well known) says the Lord has spoken, albeit several decades ago, but He is still pretty insistent on destroying the lot of you.
BUT just as King Josiah probably was hanging his head in dreaded sorrow – the kind where you know something could not have been prevented yet you have an overwhelming sense of guilt about it – he gets one of the greatest gifts of all gifts, God’s mercy. Oh, my heart skipped a beat. And we can see by this great act of mercy that future generations have hope for the same.
Writing prompt: Josiah
Write about the relief Josiah must have felt at the end of this chapter. Compare it to an occasion when you have felt a great sense of relief due to a prayer being answered or just spontaneous mercy on God’s part.