Josiah’s Children, Physical and Spiritual

Physical Sons

Josiah was a great man, an outstanding leader, a man of integrity and spirituality. He deliberately and methodically changed a nation. He was a channel of great blessing to a people who were in dire distress. Thank God for such a man.

There is, however, one black mark on Josiah’s record. He failed miserably in the area of raising his own children. We know he had three sons and each of them had a turn on the throne of Judah. None of them followed in their father’s good footsteps.

When Josiah died, the people knew his oldest son, Eliakim, was bad news for the nation. Through a movement of the people, Eliakim was overlooked and his younger brother, Jehoahaz, the middle son, was crowned as the successor to Josiah. The Biblical record sadly tells us: “He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, just as his ancestors had done.” 2 Kings 23:32. He lasted only three months before he was captured by Pharaoh Neco and taken away to Egypt.

Pharaoh then appointed the older brother to be king. He had his name changed from Eliakim to Jehoiakim (it seems that powerful kings did this to the weaker ones, so that whenever anyone mentions the new name they are reminded of who is really in charge – the one who gave the name). Pharaoh also demanded a large payment in silver and gold. In Jehoiakim’s third year, Babylon came and looted Jerusalem of its wealth and the best of its human resources (Daniel 1:1-4).

Jehoiakim lasted 11 years on the throne. He did terrible things, including burning the word of God (Jeremiah 36). As a result, God allowed for King Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon, to come and capture him and his wealth and most of the population of Judah and Jerusalem.

Jehoiakim’s son, Jehoiachin, became king but lasted only three months.

The third brother, named Zedekiah, was then made king. He was weak and uncertain of what to do. He asked for advice from the Lord’s prophet, Jeremiah, but he was too weak to follow it. He stayed on the throne for 11 years, but during the last 3 years, Jerusalem was surrounded by the mighty Babylonian armies and the people of Judah were thirsting and starving to death. Even in the very end, he did not turn to God. For some reason, Josiah’s three sons and one grandson who took his place never sought the Lord, never bothered to do what was right and true. This is a very sad end to the Davidic dynasty (though not the very end, since there is still a descendant of David and Josiah who will rule as king (Matt 1:1-16).

Spiritual Children

Josiah’s physical children turned out to be disasters. This type of thing has happened far too many times in the history of God’s people. God does not want us to neglect and ruin our children while focusing only on serving him (1 Timothy 5:8). It is so sad that Josiah caused the nation of Judah to thrive in obedience to God while leaving his sons so ill-prepared to continue his good work.

However, Josiah can be credited with a host of spiritual children who earned their way among the greatest of God’s people.

Jeremiah was the same age as Josiah, but because Josiah made such an early start on his spiritual pilgrimage it is easy to imagine that Josiah’s purity of heart on the throne inspired Jeremiah to give himself completely to God’s service. And that service was reasonably easy while Josiah lived, but it was Josiah’s sons who made life a living hell for him later on (Jeremiah 22:10-11, 18-19; 26:20-23; 36:18-26; 37:11-16; 38:4-6).

Daniel was an outstanding man of God and part of what made him holy and true in a wicked land was the example of a daring, righteous king who reigned when Daniel was born and started school. Daniel was a young man when that arrow struck King Josiah and all of Judah and Jerusalem mourned his death (2 Chron. 35:24-25). Daniel must have received great inspiration from this outstanding king, and when he was caught in the web of Babylonian politics he followed Josiah’s “no compromise” policy completely (Daniel 1:8; 6:3-4, 10-23). Daniel was a superb man who was told by an angel, “The moment you began praying, a command was given … for you are very precious to God.” (Daniel 9:23).

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were friends, fellow-refugees, and co-workers of Daniel. They also were born and raised with the righteous king, Josiah, on the throne. They exhibited courage and great faith when they chose to be burnt alive in a huge furnace rather than bow before a false god (Daniel 3:9-20). The True God used them mightily in the foreign kingdom of Babylon (Daniel 3: 21-30).

Ezekiel was in his early twenties when Josiah died. Three years later he was taken to Babylon along with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Ezekiel 1:1-2). He was a priest who was then called to be a prophet (just like Jeremiah). Ezekiel spent his whole adult life in the foreign land but faithfully taught and challenged God’s people to live in obedience to their God. His ministry was an essential part of preparing God’s people to eventually return to their land and worship Him alone.

Conclusion: God used Josiah in a mighty and strategic way to save his people from the total destruction they deserved. Other nations taken captive by Assyria and Babylon never returned to their original land. They lost their national identity and were absorbed by the greater nations. The same should have happened to Judah, but God used an eight-year-old boy, who grew to be an outstanding king and religious leader, who purged the land of idolatry, who restored the Temple and reignited the prescribed worship of the True and Living God. God used Josiah in a mighty way to prepare His people for the difficulties ahead. And with the hard work of Josiah’s spiritual children the nation continued as a united people bound together by the worship of the true God.

This is God’s promise to his people when they were about to be taken away as captives to Babylon. “I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury. I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God.  And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.” Jeremiah 32:37-41.Josiah – Chain Breaker is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in world the through eBook sellers.

3D: Deliberate Devil Destruction

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.

Its Implementation

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.

Gone, Completely Gone

As told by an unnamed old man in Jerusalem.

You may not be interested in the words of a heart-broken old man, but this story MUST be told. My grandson, my beautiful Ethan, my strength and my joy. Gone. Completely gone. No funeral. No place of mourning. No grave. How can I mourn without a grave?

I am outraged at Ethan’s mother. Hers are the hands that killed him. But my son, Shamiah, also bears the guilt. How can my family be guilty of such a treacherous thing? Oh Ethan, my grandson, my strength and my joy. Gone. Completely gone.

This tragedy must have started soon after my son was married. We live a few kilometers west of Jerusalem and I have always taken my family to the Temple. We are Jews and follow the laws of Moses. I was married in the courtyard outside the Temple and so was my son.

Within the first two years, I saw my son and his wife having problems. Every new couple has some fights, but I kept hearing bits and pieces of their arguments. During one fight I heard her talking about the spread of diseases. He shouted back about being free to worship however he wanted. I did not know what was going on.

These were hard times for us all. We live in a very dry climate and depend on the few rains when they come, because we all farm and raise animals.

During another fight, I heard her say the forbidden words, “Asherah” and “prostitute.” I heard him answer back with words like “famine”, “need her help”, and “rain.” Now I understood at least part of the problem.

East of the Holy City, there is a temple dedicated to the goddess Ashtoreth. It was built by King Solomon over 300 years ago (1 Kings 11:7-8; 2 Kings 23:13). No good Jew would go there, but my son must be going regularly now. You see, the temple is a brothel full of prostitutes. Men go there, do all sorts of lewd things, and walk out saying that they pleased Asherah and now it might rain.[1]

This despicable temple was closed down when King Manasseh returned from his short exile in Babylon. But when he died nearly two years ago, the new king, King Amon, proudly cut the ribbon at its Grand Re-opening. My son has become a willing patron of this vile place.

Their fighting got worse and worse. My son would not listen to her pleadings and threats. Nor did any good come of my son’s idolatrous sins. There still was no rain.

However, only a great prophet could have known the evil plan she invented and actually carried out. We had no warning.

My two granddaughters came running and screaming to my house. They were so upset that it took many minutes to get the story out of them.

Their mother had locked them in their room and threatened them with the worst beating of their life if they made any noise. She then took Ethan and left.

Hours later, she returned in a hysterical state. She knocked the girls around, screamed at them to leave, then locked herself in while she wailed and screamed and bashed up the house.

Upon hearing their story, I was gripped with sheer panic. Where is my Ethan? What terrible thing has happened?

I asked around and followed the steps of where she had taken him. The people led me to the southeast of Jerusalem, to where I had never set foot before in my life. I was led to the valley of Ben-Hinnom. My panic, and now my grief, multiplied with every step.

I don’t have words to say it. I will have nightmares for the rest of my life.

Ethan’s mother brought him here, to the altar of Topheth, and handed him over the murderous priests of Molech.[2] They took him to the altar, tied him down, and . . . . . .

Ashes. Nothing but ashes. Mixed with the ashes of hundreds of other victims of the so-called “protecting father”.

My beloved Ethan, my grandson, my strength and my joy. Gone. Completely gone. No funeral. No place of mourning. No grave. How will I mourn for you?

It is true that child sacrifice to false gods was practiced just outside of Jerusalem. God was repulsed at such a thing. This is what he said about it: “They have built pagan shrines at Topheth . . . and there they burn their sons and daughters in the fire. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” Jer. 7:31. It took a man of Josiah’s caliber to deal with this abomination.

N.B. This book is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in world the through eBook sellers.

[1] Unger’s Bible Dictionary, GODS, FALSE, Ashtoreth, pp 412-413.

[2] Leviticus 20:2-5. Unger’s Bible Dictionary, GODS, FALSE, Molech, P. 416.

Josiah – Chain Breaker, Dedication

This book is dedicated to a special man. Just as Josiah, the main character of the book, was taken so unexpectedly from his people, so also our dear friend and brother, Auwi Muki, was suddenly taken from us.

Auwi made great contributions to this book as a co-author [He is in the middle of this picture]. He was particularly interested in 1. The political turmoil, 2. The “Mount of Corruption,” and 3. The life lessons to be learned from Josiah.

The Lord chose to promote Auwi from earth to heaven before this book was printed.

We especially remember Auwi’s beloved wife, Martha, and his two special children, Stacey and Sefton. May the three of you experience courage, strength, and grace from the Lord each and every day.

This book is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in the world through eBook sellers.

More posts will follow in the days to come, parts of the book will be quoted.

Josiah – Chain Breaker

This book was written by a team of authors. Well researched, it seeks to be accurate in the details, while also telling the Bible story in a creative and interesting way. It is an example of what is called “creative non-fiction.” The chapters are written from different voices or viewpoints. Our hope is that the powerful message of this Bible story will “come alive” and “grab you” in a most enjoyable way.

This book was not written in a normal manner. Most books are written by individuals working on their own. Instead, the five authors of this book chose, studied, planned, and wrote it together as a group project.

One reason they chose Josiah is because they were reminded of so many young people who are drifting aimlessly down dangerous and destructive paths. No one needs to do this. No one should! Life is good. Life is beautiful. And any person’s life becomes good and special when it is given to God.

Josiah is an outstanding example. Out of a horrible beginning [are you aware of this?], he serves as proof that the True and Living God loves people. He loves to take the injured, the disadvantaged, the battered and bruised and clean them up, restore their dignity and strength, and make them shine in all that is good and right. He is ready to do that for you.

The publisher, Christian Books Melanesia, has been promoting the development and training of PNG Christian authors. Each author of this book has benefitted by attending a CBM Writers’ Workshop. Then, they gathered at Wewak for a more advanced workshop. They chose to study and write about the life of Josiah, and this book is a result of their efforts.

It is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in the world through eBook sellers. More posts will follow in the days to come, and parts of the book will be quoted.