We could tell from the previous chapters that the Temple was losing its divine stature, but we had no idea how out of control things had gotten in Jerusalem until we read these chapter. It was bad, guys. There were not only shrine prostitutes working at the Temple, but they had living quarters there as well (v. 7)! Good grief. There were pagan altars all over the place. There were more shrines in front of the governor’s house, just beside the front city gate (v. 8). There were horse statues and chariots dedicated to the sun, Asherah poles, and the people were engaging in all kinds of skullduggery. King Josiah was having none of it, either. None of it. He obliterated every last bit of evidence that these pagan gods had ever been known in his kingdom. And why did he do all this? Because he had decided to gussy up the Temple a little and found a book saying he’d been doing things all wrong. What Josiah discovered was the Book of the Covenant, the book that laid out God’s requirement for staying in relationship with Him. Josiah had no idea this book even existed before it was discovered inside the Temple. That’s big. That’s so big it looks exactly like what the Great Commission is all about in today’s world. How can they know if we don’t tell them? I started to bring this up in yesterday’s post, but I had a whole lot of other things to contemplate from the events that we read about yesterday. But can you see it carrying over to this chapter today? Look at the last part of verse 24: “He did this in obedience to the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the Lord’s Temple.” Josiah had no idea that laws like this even existed. He went his whole life without ever hearing about the foundation of the relationship that exists between God and the people of Judah – the very people whom he was now in charge! He literally was the key to restoring a nation that had gone bitterly and completely astray, and the people who lived in the region, you have to realize, had no clue there was a different way. They, too, just like Josiah, had grown up knowing only what they were taught – paganism and praying to gods that only their parents knew. This was generations of neglect, guys. Traditions and practices chipped away and forgotten one ritual, one song, one festival at a time, until there was barely anything left. Like, when we were talking a few chapters back about how bad things had gotten during Hezekiah’s reign, when Judah was down to the slim pickin’s, it’s way, way, way, way, way worse than that for Josiah. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence at all that the Book of the Covenant was “just discovered” … or that the first festival Josiah chose to celebrate was the Passover. There is so much meaning in his actions, and it directly reflects on the New Covenant that we will see in chapters to come.
However, first we have to consider that Josiah’s heart did not get passed along to his children. At the end of the chapter we see that both sons who succeeded him did what was evil in the Lord’s eyes. What’s it going to take for people to keep their eyes on God?
Writing prompt: what does it take?
We can see in these chapters how easy it is to let our relationship with God slip away. Write about things you do to remain in close relationship with Him.