During the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, Josiah began to seek the God of his ancestor David. Then in the twelfth year, he began to purify Judah and Jerusalem, destroying all the pagan shrines, the Asherah poles, and the carved idols and cast images. - 2 Chronicles 34:3
Most sixteen-year-old boys are not known for their piety. Immaturity, irresponsibility, or mischief, perhaps—and voracious appetite, energy, activity, even industry—but not usually piety, even if they are reigning monarchs.
Young King Josiah was different. We are not told what led Josiah to earnestly desire an experience of the Lord. It certainly was not the example of his father, King Amon, or his grandfather, King Manasseh, both of whom were wicked kings. Something was born in Josiah’s heart that led him to take seriously both his own spiritual well-being and his royal obligation for the well-being of his people. In a few short years, he used his royal power and prestige to rid his territory of the infamous idolatry that plagued his people and to commission the refurbishing of the neglected temple (34:8). All this by the time he was twenty-six years of age!
Josiah’s devotion to the Lord and spiritual leadership were developed without the benefit of the Scriptures, which makes his accomplishments even more remarkable. Then, when Hilkiah the priest discovered the lost Scriptures (34:14), Josiah was horrified to discover how far he and his people had strayed from the Lord’s commands. He immediately ordered further study and inquired of the prophet Huldah. When he understood the significance of the word of the Lord, he put it into practice and called the people to follow his lead.
Prior to the rediscovery of the Scriptures, Josiah had known enough about the Lord to know that he needed to know more, and he had seen enough of idol worship to know that it was clearly wrong. Acting on the limited information available to him, he achieved great things. But when he received the word of the Lord, his vision was expanded and his experience enlarged.
Every man is called not only to respond to what he knows but also to ensure that he knows what he should. To know the word and not to obey it is wrong. To have the word and not to read and know it is no better. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “He who does not read and obey has no advantage over he who cannot read or respond.” Josiah could not know what was hidden in the lost book. Modern man has no such problem—the Book is available. So we must do what we know, and read the Book. Those who read it will be called to make some changes, some of which will be uncomfortable. But every step we take toward God will lead to blessing.
For Further Study: 2 Chronicles 34:1-13
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