Josiah inherited a nation that was as dark spiritually as the condition in which we find ourselves both in the United Kingdom and across the western world today. His people had forsaken the laws of God and were going their own way, mimicking the godless nations that surrounded them. While judgement was set to descend against them, it was God’s plan that they would have one more godly and reforming King; he would be the brightest of lights in a dark time. Although only eight years of age, the boy king would herald the greatest revival ever seen in the days of the divided monarchy.
Perhaps he was the divine response to the prayers of his great grandfather. Those were prayers which resulted in Manasseh’s conversion after a profligate life and which ensured that a little boy born in Amon’s house would be a champion for God. Let us not cease in praying for our children and the successive generations whom we will never see.
The commentary upon Josiah’s reign is especially commendable:
Unlike other Kings who faltered in their declining years Josiah was blessed with an exemplary consistency, which continued without fail until his death, while fighting for the people of God against the tyranny of Egypt. He turned not from the path of God to the right hand or to the left. Let us pray that God would deliver us from inconsistency, hypocrisy and backsliding.
When he was only sixteen years of age he was converted, at this juncture he began seeking the Lord God of his fathers. This would certainly imply that the young King was placed under a godly tutelage. In all likelihood he was deeply influenced by the priests who schooled him for the great task that was his. The historian who penned 2nd Kings lays great stress upon his mother’s name and grandfather’s name. This perhaps is indicative of a strong family influence on his maternal side, which steered him in the direction of truth.
We know that Josiah’s conversion at sixteen did not occur in a vacuum. A group of people had prayed with and taught this child, knowing that the future of God’s people rested upon his shoulders. And God honoured the work of this anonymous band of heroes.
As we look at our children let us see the potential for God that each one possesses as they step out into life. Let us pray for them and teach them, believing that the future of our nation rests upon their tender shoulders.
We may never be known or remembered but we will share the blessing of the great things for God that they will do.
Josiah’s forward progress for God was steady; it could never be described as spontaneous. This is indicative of a thoughtful work, a deep work. He was like a plant, nourished and fed which grew slowly into a mighty oak.
Therefore after another four years of teaching and learning Josiah had the necessary strength and resolve to undo all the evils that his father and grandfather had brought upon the nation. With enthusiasm and diligence he cleansed Jerusalem and Judah of the idols, the images, the pagan altars; he killed the false priests burning their bones upon the altar.
This was only the beginning of his work of reformation. The revival that would later visit this land only occurred because a cleansing took place first of all. The primary place of this cleansing was Jerusalem. There must first of all be a focus upon our own hearts, our own homes, our own church. Every revival begins in the private humble abode of one’s own spirit.
God took a dealing in the life of young Josiah, preparing him for a work that would bring judgement upon the sins of the nation. Our sins need to be judged, they must be confronted, they must be neutralised, their potency and poison removed. We cannot afford to compromise with sin. Surrender to God involves saying no surrender to the world, the flesh and the devil. The future of our nation and of the world depends upon a people who are possessed with the same uncompromising spirit that imbibed the heart of a twenty year old Josiah.
I go further, one man or one woman with this spirit can change the world. In Dublin a young DL Moody met another young man called Henry Varley. In conversation Varley said:
Moody, the world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him?
Varley never remembered saying the words that day nor would he have understood the impact they made. Moody later reminded Varley of what he said, telling him of their power:
“…those were the words sent to my soul, through you, from the Living God. As I crossed the wide Atlantic, the boards of the deck of the vessel were engraved with them, and when I reached Chicago, the very paving stones seemed marked with ‘Moody, the world has yet to see what God will do with a man fully consecrated to him.’ Under the power of those words I have come back to England, and I felt that I must not let more time pass until I let you know how God had used your words to my inmost soul.”
The thousands of souls converted under the American evangelist can be traced back to a little remembered man whose words brought a heart to complete surrender.
Josiah now took a journey north to the territory once ruled over by Jeroboam and all who walked in his apostate path as Kings of Israel. Although this territory was now under the Assyrians Josiah felt strong enough to retake this territory for God. His great grandfather had sent letters north inviting the righteous in that territory to come to Jerusalem. Josiah went one step further. He travelled north breaking down the numerous pagan altars that blotted the landscape. He beat the graven images to powder ensuring that even the very knives (mattocks) used for pagan sacrifices were destroyed. He was determined to destroy every sign of that which brought the judgement of God upon the people.
The first thing Jeroboam did when he founded the northern Kingdom was to establish golden calves in Dan and Bethel. This apostasy set the tone for the northern dynasty. It brought about the destruction of that land by the Assyrians and emptied the territory of the bulk of her people. Now three hundred years after Jeroboam, Josiah travels north to wipe out all signs of paganism for the glory of God.
When the Holy Spirit moves dramatically the sins of a nation are dealt with. We ought to pray for a change in the spirit of our nation that will exterminate the evils of abortion, of sodomy and of all the wicked perversions that make us ripe for judgement. The self righteous liberal west condemns Putin for bombing Ukraine, murdering thousands and rightly so. But their hypoocrisy stinks to high heaven because they are killing babies and perverting chiuldren in their millions; and they tell themselves that this is progress, that this is good. In this dark hour that Europe is facing we are a continent deserving of judgement. There is so much sin that must be repented of and destroyed. There are so many Acts of Parliament that must be repealed. But this will only happen when God moves once again in hearts and in minds turning many to righteosuness
But Josiah lived in a dark day, but through his commitment and surrender and youthftul energy the shafts of divine sublight shone through the gloom. May we pray for surrender of heart and soul…that the light would shine, that revival would come.