Josiah the boy-king
Josiah began his reign as king of the Jews about 635 years before Jesus was born. He lived 350 years afer King David. The history of God’s people followed the fortunes of kings who followed God and those who ignored the covenant given to the Jews through Moses.
Josiah began to reign when he was eight years old. His grandfather has died when he was six years old and his father was assassinated two years later. (2 Chronicles 33:21-34:3)
His grandfather, Manasseh, reigned for 55 years and personified the vacillating history of the Jewish people. For the first part of his reign he personified evil. According to Jewish tradition he had the prophet Isaiah put in a hollow tree and cut in two. (The Ascension of Isaiah; perhaps alluded to in Hebrews 11:37)
In the providence of God, Manasseh was humbled. He was taken captive by the Assyrians. While in captivity he turned to God and was freed and returned to Jerusalem. Josiah was the product of these years of repentance. (2 Chronicles 33:10-13)
As he grew Josiah undoubtedly became aware of his family’s history. He decided to follow God when he was 16. At 26 he began to repair the temple first built by Solomon. As it was being repaired, a book of the law was found, probably Deuteronomy. It was brought to the king and read with its blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. (2 Chronicles 34:8-21)
The king knew that his people were under the curses and humbly sought a word from God. The prophetess Huldah was consulted and she gave God’s verdict to the king. (2 Chronicles 34:22-28)
The nation would receive that judgements of the curses in the book but the king would be spared because of his humility.
At 26 years old he was told by God that any reform program would not last and that he would be spared. His reaction was to lead the condemned nation along a path of renewal and revival. He proclaimed a great Passover for the nation and the celebration was more complete than any Passover in the previous 400 years. He banished the worship of false gods and destroyed their altars. The writer said of him that he fulfilled the command of Deuteronomy 6:5. He served God with all his heart and soul and might (2 Chronicles 34:31-45:19)
After Josiah’s death in battle, four of his descendants reigned during the twenty years until the destruction of Jerusalem and the beginning of the Babylonian captivity. None of them followed God.
What would we do if, at 26 years old, we were told by God that our life’s work would ultimately fail but we would be spared the failure. Josiah continued in obedience and faithfulness.
There are weighty lessons seen in his life:
His grandfather learned that repentance is always an option.
Josiah learned that sin has consequences and sometimes people suffer because of the sins of others, even others in their family.
He modeled the humble obedience that is a mark of a true follower of God.
What would you have done differently if you knew your future when you were much younger?
Are there small choices in your past that have been surprisingly impactful in your life?
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