Judah was drowning in problems. These problems are detailed already in this book. Is there any hope? Could this inexperienced little boy make any kind of difference?
The five writers of this book discussed how Josiah turned out entirely different from his father and his grandfather. He was crowned so young that his advisers were more in control than he was. However, the great reforms did not happen right away. We don’t know of any changes in Judah for the first 12 years of Josiah’s reign. So how did Josiah develop into a powerful man of God? The following are some of our guesses.
The Bubu connection (grandfather/grandson)
God had threatened punishment for a very long time, but He does not get any pleasure by bringing pain to his people. He still desired to forgive the nation and welcome them back as his own people. We believe it was not by chance that Josiah’s grandfather, King Manasseh, was dragged away with a chain through his nose and imprisoned by the Assyrians. He deserved this horrible treatment, but more than that, by being so badly humiliated and by having any future torn from him, he looked back at his life and his rejection of the true God and he began to confess his sins and ask forgiveness. Our amazing God forgave him and even arranged for him to be returned to the throne of Judah (2 Chron. 33:9-13).
He was an old man by this time, but he started removing the idols and trying to change the nation. He saw that his son, Amon, loved evil rather than good. His son will be the next king and there may not be any hope to reform him, but what about his grandson?
Wouldn’t it be natural that the repentant old man would want to spend much of his last days with this tender grandson, telling him of the many lessons he learned late in life? Would he not read the royal scrolls of the good kings, David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah and challenge Josiah to be like them? Does it make sense that Manasseh would identify his good and upright officials and tell them to take good care of this grandson, the only hope for Judah’s future?
We don’t believe that Manasseh encouraged anyone to assassinate his son, but it does make sense that he did what he could to prepare young Josiah to become the king that Judah so badly needed.
Choosing the right heritage
Josiah had all sorts of excuses lined up for why he would fail. The problems were too big for anyone to handle, and they were not his fault. He had a bad upbringing. He witnessed his father being killed by trusted officials. He was so young he would be under counsellors and guardians for years and he could easily blame them for whatever goes wrong. He could claim that he was destined to fail.
Something else to consider: When Josiah became king, he did not even have a copy of God’s word. Some must have been stored away for safe keeping, but the one that finally reached the kings hands 18 years later had been buried behind the rubble in the temple. But there was another source of information available to the boy king.
Josiah as a new, inexperienced king must have requested the official records of all the previous kings of Judah. He must have read through them and began to understand that when the kings followed the ways of King David and obeyed the Lord, then there was peace and prosperity. But when they followed Solomon and took up idolatry, then punishment came and all the people suffered. The Bible tells us about him, “While he was still young [age 16], Josiah began to seek the God of his ancestor David.” 2 Chron. 34.3.
You see, we all have more than one heritage, more than one background. We can choose the high road, accepting and building on all the good things of our past, or we can stumble along the low road, letting our past, present and future push us around. Josiah made a complete break from his father, his grandfather, and the host of other bad kings before them. He chose the right heritage, the calling of God, and the life of spirituality, truth, and uprightness.
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 The word “bubu” in our country speaks of a special mutual relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. They address each other affectionately as “bubu” in both directions. Everyone smiles at their “bubu”s.