2 Chronicles 34
by Pastor Mark Hudson
When we see ‘kings’ who are 8 years old begin their reign as king, this is not a good thing. Clearly, a pre-teen or teenager is not equipped to be a king. But the person is not chosen because they are the best candidate but because they are the son of a king. If a child is the king, some adult or adults are behind the scenes. II Kings 22:1 mentions his mother Jedidah, but this is omitted in II Chronicles 34. In some cases, this arrangement works out due to the grace of God. Not because of the process chosen.
We keep seeing the nation purged off idolatry (well, mostly) and then the next king promotes idolatry. Josiah’s grandfather was godly but not his father. He probably grows up in an idolatrous family. But he experiences the grace of God in spite of his father. Josiah seemed to experience a personal revival as a 16-year-old. Then when he was 20, he understands that idolatry is displeasing to God. So, Josiah goes all out against idols in verses 3-7. He takes his show on the road. He only returns to Jerusalem after he has destroyed the idols he knows about. Guessing there are far more than even he could find.
Sadly, this work of purging Judah of idolatry has to be repeated often. This is a sad commentary on God’s people. Josiah also has to repair the house of God. He collects money and then distribute the funds to the workers for “repairing and restoring the house.” They buy stone, timber, and pay the workers with these funds. Notice the organization of directing the right people to the work, raising funds from a wide variety of people, overseeing the work, and keeping records of the work. This is not haphazard but planned, deliberate work that involved various people in different callings. Josiah needed everyone working together for the common good.
While they were repairing and restoring, Hilkiah found the book of the law. This may be the first five books of the Old Testament but more probably the book of Deuteronomy. Don’t gloss over this word: found. He found the Bible which was supposed to be at the center of their spiritual lives. Did they miss it? Did anyone try to find it in the past few years. Did someone ask about it? We have no answer to these questions. Hilkiah give it to Shaphan who gives King Josiah a good progress report. At the end Shaphan merely says, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book” in v. 18. Then he reads it to the king.
As Shaphan reads the book to the king, Josiah tore his clothes as an expression of grief. He directs Shaphan to gather Hilkiah, Shaphan’s son Ahikam, Abdon, and Asaiah to seek God to attempt to avert God’s wrath. The king seems fearful that God’s wrath will overtake them. This group went to Huldah the prophetess. She has bad news/good news to give them. You will face judgment. The die is already cast. But Josiah will not live to see this judgment.
In verses 23-25, she prophesies judgment on the nation of Judah. But to Josiah she has a good message: this judgment will not come in your lifetime. This is because Josiah’s heart “was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and its inhabitants, and you have humbled yourself before Me and have torn your clothes and wept before me” Huldah prophesies. If there is anything God loves, it is repentance and humility. As Isaiah writes in chapter 66: “Thus says the Lord: heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool . . . All these things my hand has made . . . But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My word” 66:1-2. Of all the mountains, oceans, rivers, and beautiful birds and animals God could look at and enjoy, He looks at a person who is humble.
Josiah is still not done. He gathers the elders as well as all the men of Judah, the priests and Levites and goes to the house of the Lord. As these men are gathered together, he reads this book (of Deuteronomy?). Not only that he made a covenant before the Lord to “keep the commandments . . . with all his heart and all his soul” and then he asked everyone to join in. What a tremendous revival.
We do not read that Josiah is following the Lord for the sake of national unity. He seems focused on a personal and national revival. His sincerity and leadership are refreshing. His godliness bears fruit. Although he will make a mistake that ends his life, Josiah is a deeply spiritual man who is a good example for us.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the godly example of Josiah who reminds us that any work for God is a work of faith that starts with us humbling ourselves before You and allowing you to work in and through us. You do not cheer us on. You are active with Your great power. We allow Your Spirit to draw others to Christ. While we work at our calling, we also realize we can’t save one person or effect any change in a person’s heart without You. Revive our church, even all churches and include our nation but begin in my heart first. We ask You to move in ways we could never affect or engineer. Only You can draw Your people to Christ in a deep, heart-felt, life changing, God glorifying way. We make this sincere prayer in Christ’s name. Amen.