Reading: 2 Kings 22:1-23:30; 2 Chronicles 35:1-17
Summary: Though Judah was in a precipitous spiritual fall and Babylon was emerging as a serious threat, one last bright spot remained for the nation’s monarchy; king Josiah. Repairing the damage caused by both his father and grandfather would not be easy, but he set himself to the task. Even though the restoration efforts would not avert God’s judgment against Judah, Josiah pursued this noble task.
Given the king’s good character, the circumstances of his death are perplexing. He confronted the Egyptian army passing through Judah and was killed in the ensuing battle. Pharaoh Neco understood his efforts to be according to God’s will and warned Josiah not to oppose him. Josiah ignored the warning and paid with his life (see 2 Chron. 35:20-27). Incidentally, Egypt was going to Carchemish to aid Assyria in a last stand against emerging Babylon. Assyria’s loss there marked the end of that empire.
Proof of Heart
Josiah was good, very good. He was one of the rare kings favorably compared with David in that he did not deviate from David’s way (2 Kings 22:2).
Of course, David served the Lord with “integrity of heart and uprightness” (1 Kings 9:4). The interesting thing about Josiah is that this is said of him before the book of the Law of Moses was found in the temple during repairs and restoration (1 Kings 22:8ff). Second Chronicles points out that he began seeking the Lord in the eighth year of his reign, began reforms in the twelfth year, and the lost book of the Law was not recovered until the eighteenth year (2 Chron. 34:3, 8).
The real test for Josiah came after 10 years of seeking and serving God. That’s when he was finally exposed to God’s will as revealed in His word. What would Josiah do? Make further changes and adjustments to his service to God and lead the people to do the same? Or just expect God to accept what he was already doing based on his good heart?
Obviously, he chose to initiate further reforms and changes as per the actual word of God. His was not an attitude of, “Well, what we’ve been doing is good enough. Besides, we’ve been doing it for ten years and we’ve been sincere and earnest.”
The genuineness of the integrity of Josiah’s heart is proven by what he did after learning what God’s word said.
A sincere heart is a fine thing, but neglecting God’s expressed will and relying solely on our good heart is a fool’s venture.