“And the man cried against the altar by the word of the LORD and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.’” - 1 Kings 13:2
Today’s reading will offer a respite from the turmoil of the past few weeks. Josiah’s father Amon had died at the hands of his servants, but this coup was quickly trampled by the citizens of Judah. And eight-year-old Josiah, a child born to Amon at the age of sixteen, is established on the throne.
The author spends most of his time on the subject most important to him, to Judah, and the LORD: the rediscovery of the Book of the Law. Josiah’s righteousness is illustrated by his response to the Law’s reading: he tore his clothes. Beyond this initial conviction he calls the priests to inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah… For great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book…”
Josiah initiates a systematic reform of life and worship. He commands that all the vessels made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven be brought out of the Temple and burned outside Jerusalem. He tears down the high places throughout Judah, and listen closely as he destroys, once and for all, the sin of Jeroboam. And for the first time since the days of the judges who judged Israel, the Passover was kept in Jerusalem.
Almost 400 years have passed David’s line had been established, and Judah had existed independently for 300 years. Josiah’s reforms were possible because of an era of peace: Assyria was crumbling.
However, Josiah’s peaceful reign will be the last for Judah. His fateful decision to engage in the great battle between Egypt and Assyria not only ends his own life but ultimately proves fruitless, for lurking silently in the background is a power greater than any before: Babylon.
Josiah’s son Jehoiakim takes the throne as a puppet of Egypt in 609 B.C. Jerusalem will fall in 586 – only two decades away.
Our verse for this week is Isaiah 40:31: “But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
2 Kings 22 and 23. Now let’s read it!
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.