Lessons From King Josiah


II Kings 22:1&2 provide a brief but accurate descriptionof the life of Josiah.  "Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. He did right in the sight of the Lord and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left."There are many lessons to be learned and applications to be made in the study of Josiah.  As an analytical thinker my temptation is take his story and begin this process with II Kings 22:1 and study through to the end of II Kings 23:30.  However, God has instructed me to begin at the end of Josiah"s story.  Because these instructions deviate from my normal patterns, I have to assume that this is specifically needed by someone.  As we consider the end of the life of Josiah you will understand the urgency of begining there.  The end if the life of Josiah contains lessons of life and death consequences to a seemingly understandable and inconsequential mistake.  As we study II Chron. 35:20-27 we will consider three questions.  What was, what if and what now?


    In order to speculate on "What if?" and instruct in "What now?", we must understand "What was?".  "Josiah did right in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father David."  In the eighteenth year of his reign he sent instructions to the House of The Lord regarding repairs and how to pay for them.  When the book of The Law was "found" and read to him, he understood God's wrath and repented on behalf of his people.  2 Chronicles 34:29-33 "Then the king sent and gathered all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem.  The king went up to the house of the Lord and all the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests, the Levites and all the people, from the greatest to the least; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord. Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant written in this book.  Moreover, he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand with him. So the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers.  Josiah removed all the abominations from all the lands belonging to the sons of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel to serve the Lord their God. Throughout his lifetime they did not turn from following the Lord God of their fathers."  After systematically cleansing his kingdom of all the vestages of idol worship he celebreted the passover. II Chron. 35:18 ("There had not been celebrated a Passover like it in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet; nor had any of the kings of Israel celebrated such a Passover as Josiah did with the priests, the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.") indicates Josiah"s passion for and committment to the Lord.  The time lapse between vs. 19 and 20 indicate that this was not just a "fad" or short-lived lifestyle for Josiah.  He maintained this devotion and committment over more than a decade after celebrating the passover mentioned in vs 18.  it is apparent that he was still leading his people in "The way of the Lord".  verses 20-24 describe a very tragic end to a very Godly life.  "After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco king of Egypt came up to make war at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to engage him.  But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, O King of Judah? I am not coming against you today but against the house with which I am at war, and God has ordered me to hurry. Stop for your own sake from interfering with God who is with me, so that He will not destroy you.”  However, Josiah would not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to make war with him; nor did he listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to make war on the plain of Megiddo. The archers shot King Josiah, and the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.” So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in the second chariot which he had, and brought him to Jerusalem where he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah."


     What if Josiah had repeated what he did in II Chron. 34:20-21 ("Then the king commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Abdon the son of Micah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying,  “Go, inquire of the Lord for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book which has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord which is poured out on us because our fathers have not observed the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book.” ) ?  It seems so simple.  Had he inquired of the Lord as he had previously done, the Lord would have confirmed His Word to Pharoh Neco.  It is perfectly logical that Josiah would not accept the word of a pagan king, but he did not heed the advice of Solomon who went before him. Prov. 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight."  All he had to do was be certain he was following God's orders.  Instead, he stepped out on his own and moved forward with disguise and deciept.  Based on "What Was" (30+ years of peaceful, prosperous rule and expanding kingdom blessed by God) it can easily be inferred that those conditions would have continued.  He most likely would have lived long and maybe even another generation of his kingdom would have enjoyed peace and prosperity.  His decision not only cost him his life, but prematurely sent his kingdom into captivity.  You see, God knew of the threat of the rapidly rising Babylonian Empire and sent Neco to defend His people for Josiah.  Instead of seeking God's counsel as he had done before, he assumed the Babylonians were freinds and frustrated God"s plan for His People.


     How do you apply these lessons to your lives today?

  • First, you must remember that the Word of God is His primary means of communication with you.  All counsel and yes even percieved spiritual instructions recieved in prayer must be measured by the Word of God.  First John directs us to "test the spirits".  The Holy Spirit will never be offended if we obey the Word of God and test His instructions against God's Word.  Any intended words or courses of action that do not completely conform to the Word of God, if carried out, are disobedience and therefore sin.
  • Second, just as 30 plus years of devotion and obedience did not make Josiah omniscient neither will it do that for you.  God's ways are not your ways and you must be very careful in following Him because you do not know everything He may be doing around you.
  • Third, Josiah's careless actions had devastating consequences for himself and others around him, His entire nation paid for his sin.  Your sin can also have devastating unintended consequences for others.



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