Have you ever sat down to watch a video or streaming a movie and after 10 minutes realize that you’ve seen it before? That’s what happened when I started reading the next chapters of Isaiah (36-39). They are the exact duplicate stories of 2 Kings 18-21. Since we’ve recently covered them, you can recap, but we’re going on to finish 2 Kings and then continue with Isaiah at chapter 40 which gets into heavy Bible Prophecy. To review the historical accounts of kings Hezekiah up through evil Manasseh, here are those posts…
Next in line, we have the last good king of Judah. Moreover, what happens next is something that we need to pray for in today’s churches — a return to the True Word of God. Let’s dig in…
2 Kings 22 – Josiah Rules in Judah
Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother was Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah from Bozkath. 2 He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right.
3 In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and grandson of Meshullam, the court secretary, to the Temple of the Lord. He told him, 4 “Go to Hilkiah the high priest and have him count the money the gatekeepers have collected from the people at the Lord’s Temple. 5 Entrust this money to the men assigned to supervise the restoration of the Lord’s Temple. Then they can use it to pay workers to repair the Temple. 6 They will need to hire carpenters, builders, and masons. Also have them buy the timber and the finished stone needed to repair the Temple. 7 But don’t require the construction supervisors to keep account of the money they receive, for they are honest and trustworthy men.”
Hilkiah Discovers God’s Law
8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the court secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the Lord’s Temple!” Then Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan, and he read it.
9 Shaphan went to the king and reported, “Your officials have turned over the money collected at the Temple of the Lord to the workers and supervisors at the Temple.” 10 Shaphan also told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” So Shaphan read it to the king.
11 When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. 12 Then he gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: 13 “Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah. Inquire about the words written in this scroll that has been found. For the Lord’s great anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll. We have not been doing everything it says we must do.”
14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to the New Quarter of Jerusalem to consult with the prophet Huldah. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, the keeper of the Temple wardrobe.
15 She said to them, “The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken! Go back and tell the man who sent you, 16 ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people. All the words written in the scroll that the king of Judah has read will come true. 17 For my people have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done. My anger will burn against this place, and it will not be quenched.’
18 “But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the Lord and tell him: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: 19 You were sorry and humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I said against this city and its people—that this land would be cursed and become desolate. You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. 20 So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city.’”
So they took her message back to the king.2 Kings 22 NLT
2 Kings 23 – Josiah’s Religious Reforms
Then the king summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 And the king went up to the Temple of the Lord with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the Lord’s Temple. 3 The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. In this way, he confirmed all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll, and all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.
4 Then the king instructed Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second rank and the Temple gatekeepers to remove from the Lord’s Temple all the articles that were used to worship Baal, Asherah, and all the powers of the heavens. The king had all these things burned outside Jerusalem on the terraces of the Kidron Valley, and he carried the ashes away to Bethel. 5 He did away with the idolatrous priests, who had been appointed by the previous kings of Judah, for they had offered sacrifices at the pagan shrines throughout Judah and even in the vicinity of Jerusalem. They had also offered sacrifices to Baal, and to the sun, the moon, the constellations, and to all the powers of the heavens. 6 The king removed the Asherah pole from the Lord’s Temple and took it outside Jerusalem to the Kidron Valley, where he burned it. Then he ground the ashes of the pole to dust and threw the dust over the graves of the people. 7 He also tore down the living quarters of the male and female shrine prostitutes that were inside the Temple of the Lord, where the women wove coverings for the Asherah pole.
8 Josiah brought to Jerusalem all the priests who were living in other towns of Judah. He also defiled the pagan shrines, where they had offered sacrifices—all the way from Geba to Beersheba. He destroyed the shrines at the entrance to the gate of Joshua, the governor of Jerusalem. This gate was located to the left of the city gate as one enters the city. 9 The priests who had served at the pagan shrines were not allowed to serve at the Lord’s altar in Jerusalem, but they were allowed to eat unleavened bread with the other priests.
10 Then the king defiled the altar of Topheth in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, so no one could ever again use it to sacrifice a son or daughter in the fire as an offering to Molech. 11 He removed from the entrance of the Lord’s Temple the horse statues that the former kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were near the quarters of Nathan-melech the eunuch, an officer of the court. The king also burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.
12 Josiah tore down the altars that the kings of Judah had built on the palace roof above the upper room of Ahaz. The king destroyed the altars that Manasseh had built in the two courtyards of the Lord’s Temple. He smashed them to bits and scattered the pieces in the Kidron Valley. 13 The king also desecrated the pagan shrines east of Jerusalem, to the south of the Mount of Corruption, where King Solomon of Israel had built shrines for Ashtoreth, the detestable goddess of the Sidonians; and for Chemosh, the detestable god of the Moabites; and for Molech, the vile god of the Ammonites. 14 He smashed the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah poles. Then he desecrated these places by scattering human bones over them.
15 The king also tore down the altar at Bethel—the pagan shrine that Jeroboam son of Nebat had made when he caused Israel to sin. He burned down the shrine and ground it to dust, and he burned the Asherah pole. 16 Then Josiah turned around and noticed several tombs in the side of the hill. He ordered that the bones be brought out, and he burned them on the altar at Bethel to desecrate it. (This happened just as the Lord had promised through the man of God when Jeroboam stood beside the altar at the festival.)
Then Josiah turned and looked up at the tomb of the man of God who had predicted these things. 17 “What is that monument over there?” Josiah asked.
And the people of the town told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and predicted the very things that you have just done to the altar at Bethel!”
18 Josiah replied, “Leave it alone. Don’t disturb his bones.” So they did not burn his bones or those of the old prophet from Samaria.
19 Then Josiah demolished all the buildings at the pagan shrines in the towns of Samaria, just as he had done at Bethel. They had been built by the various kings of Israel and had made the Lord very angry. 20 He executed the priests of the pagan shrines on their own altars, and he burned human bones on the altars to desecrate them. Finally, he returned to Jerusalem.
Josiah Celebrates Passover
21 King Josiah then issued this order to all the people: “You must celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as required in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 There had not been a Passover celebration like that since the time when the judges ruled in Israel, nor throughout all the years of the kings of Israel and Judah. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem.
24 Josiah also got rid of the mediums and psychics, the household gods, the idols, and every other kind of detestable practice, both in Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah. He did this in obedience to the laws written in the scroll that Hilkiah the priest had found in the Lord’s Temple. 25 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.
26 Even so, the Lord was very angry with Judah because of all the wicked things Manasseh had done to provoke him. 27 For the Lord said, “I will also banish Judah from my presence just as I have banished Israel. And I will reject my chosen city of Jerusalem and the Temple where my name was to be honored.”
28 The rest of the events in Josiah’s reign and all his deeds are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah.
29 While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, went to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah and his army marched out to fight him, but King Neco[j] killed him when they met at Megiddo. 30 Josiah’s officers took his body back in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. Then the people of the land anointed Josiah’s son Jehoahaz and made him the next king.
Jehoahaz Rules in Judah
31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah from Libnah. 32 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestors had done.
33 Pharaoh Neco put Jehoahaz in prison at Riblah in the land of Hamath to prevent him from ruling in Jerusalem. He also demanded that Judah pay 7,500 pounds of silver and 75 pounds of gold as tribute.
Jehoiakim Rules in Judah
34 Pharaoh Neco then installed Eliakim, another of Josiah’s sons, to reign in place of his father, and he changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. Jehoahaz was taken to Egypt as a prisoner, where he died.
35 In order to get the silver and gold demanded as tribute by Pharaoh Neco, Jehoiakim collected a tax from the people of Judah, requiring them to pay in proportion to their wealth.
36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother was Zebidah, the daughter of Pedaiah from Rumah. 37 He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestors had done.2 Kings 22 NLT
It’s the year 630 BC and young King Josiah, the last of the good kings of Israel AND Judah, is 26, and he decides he’s going to repair and refurbish the Temple. In the process, the high priest discovers the Book of the Law. These scrolls are what we know as the 5 Books of Moses, the Torah — Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. All of a sudden, they realized that they’ve been disobeying God for centuries.
This brings to mind something that Jesus said which Matthew recorded…
Consequently, because of Josiah’s humble remorse when he realized that they’ve been apart from God all these years, God spared him from witnessing the “promised disaster”. See, Josiah was not just a hearer of the Word, he was a DOER of the Word. He OBEYED the Word.
He got rid of ALL the pagan idols, not just in Judah, the “high places”, but also in Bethel and Samaria in what was the northern kingdom. He fired (and/or killed) the pagan priests, and they were not allowed to go to the Temple. This fulfilled a 300-year-old prophecy from 1 Kings 13:2…
2 Then at the Lord’s command, he shouted, “O altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: A child named Josiah will be born into the dynasty of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests from the pagan shrines who come here to burn incense, and human bones will be burned on you.”1 Kings 13:2 NLT
Josiah never killed a lion, slew a giant, made an ax-head float, caused it to rain, or killed a Philistine. Yet, Josiah fought spiritual wickedness in high places, and he loved God with everything he had!
Even the good Josiah accomplished couldn’t override the evil Manasseh had done. Judah would still be judged.
It’s interesting, just four years after Josiah dies the Babylonians begin to oppress Judah. God’s judgment comes. We’ll see that despite Josiah’s reformation the people never turned from their wickedness. From Josiah’s life we learn an important lesson – there’s a difference between revival and reformation. Just because a society experiences an outward, political reformation doesn’t mean folks have been inwardly and spiritually revived.
Josiah is proof. God transformed Josiah – and he made righteous changes. But real revival can’t be legislated. It rises from bottom up, not top down. You can write new laws all day, but until God writes His law on our hearts nothing really changes. There’s a time and place for Christians to be politically active – but don’t be deluded into thinking revival can come through political means. Revival takes a work of God. The change that occurred in Josiah – never got to the people.Sandy Adams
4 Steps to Revival
- Rediscovery — starting to read the Bible DAILY. Rediscover God’s Word. Rediscover Jesus. Rediscover the TRUTH. Be like Josiah and read the Bible. Share it with everyone you know.
- Repentance — STOP SINNING! Do a 180 degree turn in your life. Clean up your life just like Josiah removed all things pagan from the country.
- Re-commitment — That’s BAPTISM. That’s when you renew your commitment to follow Jesus. In addition, you show yourself and the world that you have died to your old life and risen anew — reborn — to a new life with Jesus.
- Reformation — Only then will you have reformation. Martin Luther wanted to reform the Catholic Church and he failed. He did start the Protestant movement following the Word. Unfortunately, like Josiah’s successor, who continued to do evil in the Lord’s sight, the Roman Catholic Church will be have to face the consequences of diverting so far from God’s Word that they became their own religion.
God’s Judgment is Coming No Matter What!
God’s Judgment is coming and everyone — believer and non-believer, raptured and risen, dead and alive — will stand before Jesus on the Judgment Day. Believers will be rewarded based on how they lived their lives. Non-believers will be judged and sentenced to eternity in hell. There is no such thing as purgatory! It’s either Heaven or hell. Your choice!
Therefore (and it’s not too late while you’re still breathing!), because you’ve heard and heeded God’s warnings, you can get your ticket to Heaven. Peter wrote…
17 For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News?1 Peter 4:17 NLT
Have YOU OBEYED God’s Good News?
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…