Josiah became King of Judah when he was eight years old. Judah could not have been more of a spiritual and cultural disaster. Manasseh and his son, Amon, had just concluded 57 of the most perverse years of leadership that Judah had known. Manasseh set a new standard of wickedness during his reign and his son, Amon, picked up where his father left off. The temple of the Lord was desecrated by living quarters of the male shrine prostitutes. Provision had been made in the temple for the worship of Baal and his consort, Asherah and the starry hosts. Provision was also made throughout the land for the burning of incense Baal, Asherah, the sun and the moon, and the constellations. In valley of Ben Hinnom, infants were sacrificed in the fire to Molech the god of Ammon and Chemosh, the god of Moab. These places of vile worship and evil had spread throughout Judah. Asherah poles with their carved images of female fertility were set up in the high places. These were dark, dark times.
Amon had been king just two years when he was assassinated. Apparently, the people of the land had enough. They made his young son, Josiah, king. For whatever reason, the people chose to keep a descendent of David on the throne. Given the moral and political chaos of the day, Josiah’s ascendency to the throne can only be viewed as God keeping his promise to David that he would always have someone to rule on the throne.
By piecing together the narratives of Chronicles and Kings we see that even as a teenager, Josiah began to bring reform to a wretched and wicked land ( I am indebted, once again, to the commentaries of Dale Ralph Davis for bringing insight and clarity to the story of Josiah). When the book of the Law was finally found when Josiah was 26 years old, the prophetess Huldah gave insight into what drove Josiah to undertake the radical and violent reforms against God’s enemies. In 2Kings 22:18-19 she said this to Josiah:
Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord.
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