I am a total history geek, guys. I find ancient battles, civilizations, ways of life, and stories so fascinating. So, naturally, I love the history books of the Bible! Today, we are going to look at one of my favorite Old Testament stories:
The story of the Boy King, Josiah (2 Kings 22-23)
Josiah became king at the ripe old age of eight, at a time when idolatry was rampant in the kingdom of Judah. His grandfather, King Manasseh, was the wickedest king in Judah’s history. He led the people into every kind of pagan practice, worshiped false gods, and even sacrificed his own son in the fire. And when Manasseh died, Josiah’s father, Amon, followed in his evil ways, until his own officials had him assassinated!
(Talk about a crazy family!)
This was the legacy and the kingdom that Josiah inherited. The wonder of this story is that Josiah chose to turn away from his family’s evil practices and serve the Lord with an undivided heart.
It started when Josiah was eighteen and the high priest found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord. [Did y’all catch that? He found it? That means that somewhere along the way, they lost it. The kings of Israel and Judah were supposed to copy the Book of the Law by hand and read it all the days of their lives. (Deut. 17) But they had lost it. Is it any wonder things were so bad?]
As soon as Josiah realized how far they had strayed from God’s commandments, he humbled himself and got to work.
“The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep His commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.” (2 Kings 23:3, NIV)
Josiah began to weed out all of the idols and places of pagan worship throughout the city of Jerusalem so that the people of Judah could worship the Lord with their whole hearts.
At the end of each king’s story, 1st and 2nd King offer a summary for his life:
“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with the Law of Moses.” (2 Kings 23:25, NIV)
Wow. I love that! He turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his strength.
What did that look like for Josiah?
1. Josiah valued God’s Word
Josiah viewed the Word of the Lord as of the utmost importance! He read the book of the Law, committed to obey, and then went and did it. Truly valuing God’s Word requires those three elements: reading, taking it to heart, and then obeying. And did you guys know that loving God requires obeying His commands? (John 14:21)
2. Josiah removed idols
It’s easy to think that we don’t have a problem with idols nowadays, but actually, anything that we value more than God becomes an idol. That could be relationships, work, success, popularity–you name it! To gauge that, we can determine the main focus of our thoughts, actions, efforts, and affections. This shows us which priorities we need to adjust so that God has the most important place in our hearts.
When we love God first, all other loves filter through the light of our relationship with Him.
An Undivided Heart
Valuing God’s word and ridding our lives of idols allows our heart to be undivided like Josiah’s. I love that Josiah’s story is so unexpected. Giving power to an eight-year-old who has the example of two terrible kings before him sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it? Yet as a teenager, Josiah chose to follow the Lord wholeheartedly and lead his people back into obedience.
Wow. That is inspiring, convicting, and an example I want to emulate. I too want to have an undivided heart. I would love for my life to be summarized like this:
“And she turned to the Lord with all her heart, all her soul, and all her strength.”
How about you?