2 Kings 23:25
Now before there was no king like him 2 Kings 23:25
Josiah came to rule after a long line of bad boy kings in both Israel and Judah. Baasha, Ahab, Ahaziah, Joash, Ahaz, to name a few. His own father Amon and his grandfather Manasseh had done evil in the sight of the Lord. Yet somehow along the way, Josiah met and fell in love with the Almighty God.
He was crowned when he was eight years old. At age 26, after reigning 18 years, an errand to count the money that was collected to begin the restoration of the temple resulted in the unearthing of the scroll containing God’s law (2 Kings 22:3-8).
The excitement surrounding the discovery and the king’s dramatic response to its reading (he tore his clothes in despair II Kings 22:8, 11, 14) tells us that it had been some time since the instructions of Moses had been followed.
In Deuteronomy 17:18, Moses gave instructions that when a king takes his throne he was to borrow the scroll of the law from the Levitical priests and write a copy for himself. And it shouldn’t end there. The king was to read the law “all the days of his life” (Deuteronomy 17:19). But until this moment Josiah had known nothing of this covenant relationship with God.
The minute he knew about it, King Josiah took action. He made sure that all the elders, all the priests, and the people and prophets heard for themselves what was written in the book of the law. He took that stand for God and renewed the covenant and pledged to serve the Lord with his whole heart (2 Kings 23:1-3).
Then the real work began.
There were a lot of marks left on the people and the country by the centuries of idol worship. And Josiah was determined to get rid of them all.
- He instructed Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second rank and the Temple gatekeepers to remove from the Lord’s Temple all the articles that were used to worship Baal, Asherah, and all the powers of the heavens. These things were burned outside Jerusalem on the terraces of the Kidron Valley, the ashes carried away to Bethel.
- He did away with the idolatrous priests, the ones who had offered sacrifices at the pagan shrines and to Baal, and to the sun, the moon, the constellations, and to all the powers of the heavens throughout Judah and even in the vicinity of Jerusalem.
- The king removed the Asherah pole from the Lord’s Temple and had it burned outside Jerusalem to the Kidron Valley. He ground the ashes of the pole to dust and threw the dust over the graves of the people.
- He tore down the living quarters of the male and female shrine prostitutes that were inside the Temple of the Lord, where the women wove coverings for the Asherah pole.
- Josiah brought to Jerusalem all the priests who were living in other towns of Judah.
- He also defiled the pagan shrines, where they had offered sacrifices—all the way from Geba to Beersheba.
Related: Micah 6:8
And there was still a lot of work to be done. Josiah also:
- Destroyed the shrines at the entrance to the gate of Joshua, the governor of Jerusalem. The priests who had served at the pagan shrines were not allowed to serve at the Lord’s altar in Jerusalem, but they were allowed to eat unleavened bread with the other priests.
- The king defiled the altar of Topheth in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, so no one could ever again use it to sacrifice a son or daughter in the fire as an offering to Molech.
- He removed from the entrance of the Lord’s Temple the horse statues that the former kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun.
- The king also burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.
- Josiah tore down the altars that the kings of Judah had built on the palace roof above the upper room of Ahaz.
Related: Read the Bible
I had a slight déjà vu moment when I read, “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him”; wasn’t the same thing said about Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:5)? But a closer reading of the text showed the difference.
Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him. For he clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses (2 Kings 18:5-7).
Josiah turned to the LORD -with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses (2 Kings 23:25).
Both kings followed the Lord’s commandments according to Moses’ instructions. Hezekiah’s strong point was his trust while Josiah’s was the fact that he turned to God and served Him in all that he did.
What is really amazing is that an 8-year-old who had a father who worshiped idols, a grandfather who is known as the “wickedest king of all times” could come to serve God with such dedication.
What is really amazing about this, is how Josiah stepped up and did what others before him didn’t.
II Chronicles 34:3 tells us that in the eighth year of his reign, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year as king, he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles, and idols (2 Chronicles 34:8).
After the book of the Law was found in his eighteenth year as king, he had the priests read it in the hearing of all the people and the elders and the prophets. He made a covenant with God for himself and also on behalf of the people (2 Kings 23:2-3).
Reading those words sometimes don’t paint a full picture, so let me put it another way:
When Josiah was 16 years old, he really began to seek God with his whole heart. Somewhere along the way he was convicted in his heart and realized that the living God was not pleased with the state of Israel. God is holy and His people must present themselves holy unto Him.
When he was 20, he began destroying the high places and the idols that had been erected in Judah and Israel. It took him 6 years.
At age 26, he compelled the people of Israel to renew their covenant with the Lord. They stood with him and pledged to serve Jehovah with their whole heart.
Can you imagine the courage it took for this young man to stand up before people who were set in their ways to do evil? Not only did he stand before them, but he motivated them to do what was right.
It goes to show that when God is with us He drives away the spirit of fear that humanity inherited with the fall from grace. It also leads me to ask the questions: Are we setting an example for people to follow? Are we leading others to Christ?
If we were to re-write this verse and put our names in it, would the statement be true?
Today I invite us to pray and ask God to reveal those things that are unlike Him. Let’s lay whatever He reveals at His feet in repentance and do what needs to be done so that we can serve God with our whole heart and our whole soul and all our strength.