Josiah was eight years old when he became king. He ruled for thirty-one years in Jerusalem.
He behaved well before God. He kept straight on the path blazed by his ancestor David, not one step to the left or right.
When he had been king for eight years - he was still only a teenager - he began to seek the God of David his ancestor. Four years later, the twelfth year of his reign, he set out to cleanse the neighborhood of sex-and-religion shrines, and get rid of the sacred Asherah groves and the god and goddess figurines, whether carved or cast, from Judah.
He wrecked the Baal shrines, tore down the altars connected with them, and scattered the debris and ashes over the graves of those who had worshiped at them.
He burned the bones of the priests on the same altars they had used when alive. He scrubbed the place clean, Judah and Jerusalem, clean inside and out.
The clean-up campaign ranged outward to the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon, and the surrounding neighborhoods - as far north as Naphtali.
Throughout Israel he demolished the altars and Asherah groves, pulverized the god and goddess figures, chopped up the neighborhood shrines into firewood. With Israel once more intact, he returned to Jerusalem.
One day in the eighteenth year of his kingship, with the cleanup of country and Temple complete, King Josiah sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the mayor of the city, and Joah son of Joahaz the historian to renovate The Temple of God.
First they turned over to Hilkiah the high priest all the money collected by the Levitical security guards from Manasseh and Ephraim and the rest of Israel, and from Judah and Benjamin and the citizens of Jerusalem.
It was then put into the hands of the foremen managing the work on The Temple of God
who then passed it on to the workers repairing God's Temple - the carpenters, construction workers, and masons - so they could buy the lumber and dressed stone for rebuilding the foundations the kings of Judah had allowed to fall to pieces.
The workmen were honest and diligent. Their foremen were Jahath and Obadiah, the Merarite Levites, and Zechariah and Meshullam from the Kohathites - these managed the project. The Levites - they were all skilled musicians -
were in charge of the common laborers and supervised the workers as they went from job to job. The Levites also served as accountants, managers, and security guards.
While the money that had been given for The Temple of God was being received and dispersed, Hilkiah the high priest found a copy of The Revelation of Moses.
He reported to Shaphan the royal secretary, "I've just found the Book of God's Revelation, instructing us in God's way - found it in The Temple!" He gave it to Shaphan,
who then gave it to the king. And along with the book, he gave this report: "The job is complete - everything you ordered done is done.
They took all the money that was collected in The Temple of God and handed it over to the managers and workers."
And then Shaphan told the king, "Hilkiah the priest gave me a book." Shaphan proceeded to read it out to the king.
When the king heard what was written in the book, God's Revelation, he ripped his robes in dismay.
And then he called for Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah, Shaphan the royal secretary, and Asaiah the king's personal aide.
He ordered them all: "Go and pray to God for me and what's left of Israel and Judah. Find out what we must do in response to what is written in this book that has just been found! God's anger must be burning furiously against us - our ancestors haven't obeyed a thing written in this book of God, followed none of the instructions directed to us."
Hilkiah and those picked by the king went straight to Huldah the prophetess. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, who was in charge of the palace wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter. The men consulted with her.
In response to them she said, "God's word, the God of Israel: Tell the man who sent you here,
'God has spoken, I'm on my way to bring the doom of judgment on this place and this people. Every word written in the book read by the king of Judah will happen.
And why? Because they've deserted me and taken up with other gods; they've made me thoroughly angry by setting up their god-making businesses. My anger is raging white-hot against this place and nobody is going to put it out.'
"And also tell the king of Judah, since he sent you to ask God for direction, God's comment on what he read in the book:
'Because you took seriously the doom of judgment I spoke against this place and people, and because you responded in humble repentance, tearing your robe in dismay and weeping before me, I'm taking you seriously. God's word.
I'll take care of you; you'll have a quiet death and be buried in peace. You won't be around to see the doom that I'm going to bring upon this place and people.'" The men took her message back to the king.
The king acted immediately, assembling all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem,
and then proceeding to The Temple of God bringing everyone in his train - priests and prophets and people ranging from the least to the greatest. Then he read out publicly everything written in the Book of the Covenant that was found in The Temple of God.
The king stood by his pillar and before God solemnly committed himself to the covenant: to follow God believingly and obediently; to follow his instructions, heart and soul, on what to believe and do; to confirm with his life the entire covenant, all that was written in the book.
Then he made everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin commit themselves. And they did it. They committed themselves to the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors.
Josiah did a thorough job of cleaning up the pollution that had spread throughout Israelite territory and got everyone started fresh again, serving and worshiping their God. All through Josiah's life the people kept to the straight and narrow, obediently following God, the God of their ancestors.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)