2 Kings 22-23: Reform
June 24, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The boy king Josiah is a model and example in his godliness, turning neither to the right nor the left out of the way of God (22:1-2). It begins with him showing good management, trustworthy dealing with others, and fair recompense to workers regarding the house of the LORD (22:3-7). He has a heart for God and his ways—and it shows from the start.
But then Josiah is given a shock. The high priest tells the secretary sent by the king that he has found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD (22:8). Stop and consider: in this temple, it was astonishing news that a Bible was found. Who could have thought that things could have become so rotten that a high priest discovered a Bible and was surprised? The secretary takes it to the king, and clearly has no idea what he is holding: “the priest,” he says, “has given me a book” (22:10). A book! The Book! The Book of books!
The secretary reads it to the king (22:10), and Josiah’s soft heart to God is immediately evident. He repents, tears his clothes, and asks straightaway that God should tell him what to do (22:11-13). It is very clear from the Law that God promised to uproot his people from the land if they went after foreign idols.
The prophetess gives the interpretation (22:14-20). God will send his people into exile as promised in the Law (22:16-17). But because Josiah has humbled himself before God, it will not happen in his lifetime (22:18-20). When the righteous perish, think: what disaster is it that God is keeping them from seeing in their lifetime?
Josiah immediately sets about reforms (23:1-20). Revival is all well and good—marvelous and greatly to be sought—but if it comes without reform too, it leads to little lasting fruit. Josiah has been revived, and now he institutes structural reformation.
First, he gathers the leaders (23:1). Then he reads the Bible to them (23:2). Then he makes a covenant—renews their covenant commitment to God (23:3). He makes them sign on the dotted line that they will follow God. Having then gathered the leadership and aligned them with God’s Word, he then brings the people along, too (23:3). From revival, to reformation, to a new movement. God is at work.
Then we see just how much there is to do to institute this reformation. All the idols and revolting practices are removed (23:4-20)—with great incisive and decisive completion. People do not like knives, but when there is cancer and the cancer is rightly diagnosed, they are happy to have a skilled physician wield the scalpel. Josiah cuts out the dead wood, the evil and malignancy as far and as much as he can.
One beautiful moment. That prophet—perhaps you remember—who had prophesied against the high place of Jeroboam, and himself had died as testimony to the truth and power of the word he had spoken against the altar (1 Kings 13), is now remembered, and his memory is honored (23:17-18). The Passover is kept (23:21-23)—no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges. Long had been the fall of God’s people into exile, and great would be that fall.
Still despite all these reformations, the die is now cast. And God’s people will go into exile. Josiah serves heroically, yet it is too late. But not too late for honoring and glorifying God, which he does so excellently. God mercifully removes Josiah before the exile (23:28-30), and after him come more wicked kings, the last one (Jehoiakim) little more than a vassal king to Egypt (23:31-37).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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