Author: Ron Graham
Josiah King of Judah
—And his excellence and godliness
Time ~ 7. Exile and Scattering
Span ~ 200 years
Books ~ Jer, Lam, Eze, Dan, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Obadiah, [Joel]
Figures ~ Jeremiah, Daniel
Begins with ~ Wars upon Israel and Judah
Ascendant empire ~ Babylon
In this lesson we look at Judah's king Josiah, third king after Hezekiah, and like him a godly man.
1 Another Good King
Once the reign of Hezekiah ended, the two following kings quickly led Judah back into idolatry.
That idolatry was, in fact, even worse than that of the pagan nations who had previously occupied the land.
It is interesting that the son and grandson of good king Hezekiah did evil, and yet his great grandson Josiah lived even more righteously than Hezekiah himself.
Josiah's reign, like that of Hezekiah, provides an encouraging interlude before the Babylonians capture Jerusalem and the people of Judah go into exile for seventy years.
We are reminded that even when evil seems all pervasive, there are those who cling to the right and go against the trend of the times.
God always has his people somewhere, and some of them have been kings.
Sometimes the good done by one person will completely cancel the evil done by another. The great example is the good done by Jesus Christ, which is able to cancel out all the evil that anyone has ever done (1John 2:1-2).
It is very unwise, however, to think that the good of one will always reverse the evil of another. The extremes of evil done and encouraged by several kings of Judah, caused God to decree punishment upon Judah. Hezekiah and Josiah's goodness certainly postponed that punishment. However, in this case, it was only a reprieve, and not a removal of the punishment due (2Kings 22:14-20).
2 Bible Summary (2Kings 21-23)
- Similar information is given in 2nd Chronicles 33-36
- Manasseh becomes Judah's king (21)
- Manasseh practises worse idolatry than the pagans (21)
- God foretells Judah's punishment (21)
- Amon becomes king. He too is wicked (21)
- Amon is assassinated. Josiah suceeds him (21)
- Josiah is a good king like David (22)
- The book of the law is found (22)
- Josiah confirms the covenant and purges Judah of idols (23)
- The Passover observed. There had been none like it since the days of the judges (23)
- Josiah killed in battle with Pharaoh Neco (23)
- Jehoahaz becomes king and does evil (23)
3 A Few Facts About Josiah
- A king in Judah after Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon.
- Contemporary with the prophets Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Jeremiah.
- Commenced his reign at the age of eight.
- A very good king like David (2Kings 22:1-2; 23:25).
- Purged Judah of all idols.
- Reinstated the law of Moses and Passover observance.
- Died honourably in battle after reigning 31 years.
- After his reign, Judah began to crumble. Its days were numbered as invasion by the Babylonians drew near.
4 There's More To Idolatry Than Idols
Idolatry and the evil practices of paganism include much more than simply bowing down to idols. Among the abominations that Josiah purged these: " witchcraft and divination, mediums and spiritists, teraphim and idols" (2Kings 21:6; 23:24).
Those things are common practice today, and popularised by the entertainment industry. Forms of divination (for insight into the past, present, and especially the future) are astrology, spiritism, channeling, psychic meditation, various omens, tarot cards, palmistry, numerology, crystal balls, ouija boards, and such like. Keep away from all such things!
5 The law of Moses and the law of the LORD
Some people, in order to support Sabbath keeping by Christians, make a distinction between the law of Moses and the law of the LORD. They say that the law of Moses contained the ceremonial and custom commandments, and was done away in Christ. However, the Law of the LORD contained the moral commandments and was not done away. They place the ten commandments in this category.
Notice in our readings, that no such distinction is made. The following terms are synonyms for what was written in the book of the law:
- the law (2Kings 22:8),
- the covenant (2Kings 23:2-3),
- the law of Moses (2kg 23:24-25),
- the law of the LORD (2Chronicles 34:14).
Compare Nehemiah 8:1,8 —The " book of the law of Moses" was brought out, and they read from " the book, from the law of God".