By the King’s recorder.
Hatching a Plan
It was a risky, monumental task that faced the king. There was urgency to accomplish it, but success was not at all guaranteed. Great care and a very great plan was required.
Four years ago, at the young age of 16, the boy King Josiah became serious about his relationship with the God of the Bible. This God is the Living God. He has certain expectations, and he offers certain compensations for cooperation and obedience. Young Josiah made a head-strong decision to seek this God with all his heart.
Now he is four years along in this quest. He has learned personal reverence. He has found miraculous joy and personal peace through solid interaction with God. But, he also feels a great weight as the king of Judah that his subjects, the people of Judah, are worshipping the anti-God, the Devil, who appeared with many faces in the idols of Baal, Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Molech, and numerous other “gods”. Each of them is a blatant abomination that infuriates Israel’s God. Josiah’s love for God and the honour of His name drew Josiah into this risky, monumental task.
Idol worship needs to be stopped in its tracks; needs to be eradicated so as to never return.
Josiah began his research. It was not enough to just break down the pagan temples and bust up the altars and kill off the priests. His father showed how quickly the idols can return, and with a vengeance. What could he do to eradicate their existence both now and into the future? He investigated the beliefs and requirements of each of these despicable religions until he uncovered what was most abhorrent for each of them. Now he could hatch a plan to attack each and every one of them, destroy them, and intentionally violate the very core of their religion so that it could not be restored.
Wow. This 20-year-old was bold, comprehensive, and thorough in what he did.
Facing the Risks
This is no small thing Josiah is setting out to do.
Domestically, within the realm of Judah, his actions could easily create an uprising that would cost Josiah his throne and his life. The citizens of Judah were worshipping these false gods by their own evil choice, and they don’t want to be forced to stop (Jeremiah 3:6-10; 7:16-18). They believed these gods bring them rain and harvest and children and wealth (Jer. 44:17). To oppose these gods is to ruin the hopes of their faithful followers.
Internationally, these temples were an expression of international ties, much like embassies are today. They dated back to King Solomon who made political alliances through marrying the daughters of foreign kings, then he built temples so that his wife and in-laws had a place to worship (1 Kings 11:7-10). Therefore, if Josiah destroys the temple of Ashtoreth, he is infuriating the king of Sidon to the North. If he destroys the temple of Chemosh, he cuts off all ties with Moab to the east. And if he destroys the temple of Molech, he declares war on Ammon to the southeast. These are only some of the foreign conflicts he was about to create.
Josiah did not bow down to fear. He was not half-hearted. He did not compromise. Did not deviate. “He did what was pleasing to the LORD and he followed all the ways of his ancestor David; he did not deviate to the right or to the left.” 2 Kings 22:2 (TNK). He truly was a “one way” man.
Josiah didn’t sit in his comfortable palace and bark out orders for others to carry out. He personally headed up the search-and-destroy missions. He targeted first the whole area of Judah and Jerusalem, his own little nation (2 Chron. 34:3-5).
He destroyed all the physical objects of idol worship, the temples, the idols themselves, and all the altars wherever they were. He removed all physical evidence (2 Kings 23:4-14).
He dealt with the priests who performed the illegal rituals. The foreign priests he had them killed. The Israelite priests who greatly compromised he brought to Jerusalem and forbid them to serve in the temple, but he saw that they were fed and taken care of. In spite of their treachery, Josiah recognized them as a chosen people and therefore he showed them honor, 2 Kings 23:8-9.
He removed all mediums and fortune tellers and all who called on demonic spirits (2 Kings 23:24).
He defiled all the places of idol worship by burning the bones of their buried priests so that these places could never be used again.
Josiah was methodical and thorough.
After Josiah’s own territory was cleansed, he was bold enough to cross the border into the land of the 10 northern tribes who had been carried off to Assyria. He obviously felt responsible for the whole land that God gave as a special inheritance to his people. King Josiah purified the whole land of Israel and Judah (2 Kings 23:15-20; 2 Chron. 34:6-7).
Its Results – Belief in One God
The Bible gives us two accounts of Josiah’s great work of removing all the idol worship from the land. 2 Chronicles 34 tells us clearly that this work began before he had the temple cleansed and the book of the law was discovered. He started this work at the age of 20, during his 12th year as king (2 Chron. 34:3). The other account (2 Kings 23) tells us that the discovery and reading of the law caused Josiah to see that there was much more work to be done. Judah and Israel had yet to come up to God’s high standard of holiness. Josiah’s heart was broken with this new information, so he led a stronger and broader campaign against all the evils of idolatry and false gods.
The Bible says of Josiah, “Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.” 2 Kings 23:25. This singleness of purpose and focus and heart was the key to bringing about the belief in only One God. This is what God commanded in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “Listen, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” This is the 1st and greatest commandment in the Bible (Mat. 22:37-38) and Josiah was the one who came to truly obey it.
God used Josiah in a mighty way to prepare His people for the horrible time ahead when Jerusalem would be attacked, the city and the temple destroyed, and all the people of Judah taken captive to a foreign land. Josiah made such a strong statement that – there is only One God – and this statement bounced around in their ears for years and years to come. Never again were the people of Israel to be divided in their loyalty to other gods. Baal, Ashtoreth, Molech and all the others never held the interest of God’s people again. Proof of this can be found in the book of Esther. The people of God were in danger of being all killed off, but rather than compromise and join the locals in their idol worship, they fasted and prayed to the True and Living God and received their help from Him alone (Esther 4:1, 4, 16-17; 8:15-17; 9:1-3).
Josiah – Chain Breaker is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in world the through eBook sellers.