As I continue my work on Josiah (I’m at 700 words now) I’ve been struck again at the greatness of who Josiah was. Check out this line from 2 Kings 23:25
Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.
This comes after the account of Josiah purging all the idols from the land, grinding the Asherah poles to dust and defiling the graves of those who had disobeyed at Bethel and then holds a passover celebration like none had seen since the time of the judges. He doesn’t shy away from getting his hands dirty, it is a full on reform.
But from some of my reading there has been a suggestion that Josiah was alone in his faith, that he had little support from the people. I think this view has some validity, we see that once Josiah dies, his son’s are pagan drop-outs and screw it all up and the temple is destroyed by the Babylonians. So the people hadn’t been changed that much. The prophetess wasn’t near Josiah that much, she just relayed the message she had for him (2 Ki 22). And the other point that is made is that the general times are not with it, things just seem to be against him. But I think that were a few who were on board with him, that could see his vision and went with him. When he restores the temple, we are told that:
Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the money that has been brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people. 5 And let it be given into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD, and let them give it to the workmen who are at the house of the LORD, repairing the house 6(that is, to the carpenters, and to the builders, and to the masons), and let them use it for buying timber and quarried stone to repair the house. 7But no accounting shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly.
The workmen are honest, Hilkiah the high priest is helping out, he finds the book of the law after this and takes it to Josiah. Under the kings command they clean out the temple and knock down the poles and idols. I reckon that he has support. But the idea of following God by yourself made me reflect a bit.
Josiah’s role wasn’t just king, but extended to the role of pastor, he had love for his people and sought to bring them back into covenant (relationship) with God. But I’m sure he actually did feel lonely in this role, and at times even disheartened at the foolishness of his people. I think this can happen in the church today too. Although this is not my own experience, ministry can be a lonely place, If you are fire up about living God’s way, thankful for his grace in Jesus and want others to join in that joy and live changed lives, but you get no response. You are keen to see those who God has given you to pastor change but they are unwilling, you want to install passion and vision in them but it returns empty. This can be a lonely time. But I would want to encourage any in this situation to hold firm, look to Josiah who lived in a time where those around him did not live God’s way, but kept straight, not straying to the left or right. Change does happen, sometimes it can take many years to change the culture of a group, instill vision in those around you, or bring in others who share your vision to help. But Jesus works through all situations to his glory. Remain faithful, God rewards faithfulness.
Not as profound today, less coherent, but thats where I’m at.