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What the Bible says about Josiah
(From Forerunner Commentary)

It will be helpful to set the stage for Josiah's appearance in 639 BC. The northern ten tribes, Israel, are in captivity, having been conquered by Assyria about 80 years earlier during the reign of Judah's king Hezekiah. A good king who tried to follow God, Hezekiah rules for 29 years. His son Manasseh, however, is a very evil man. During his 55 years on the throne, he leads the people away from God, even to the extent of sacrificing children. Coming as it does after the 29 years of obedient leadership under Hezekiah, Manasseh's reign provides a clear contrast to the people.

Though Manasseh exercises corrupt leadership, it appears the people willingly follow. In II Kings 21:9, God comments, "But they [the people] paid no attention [to God's laws], and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel." Because of this, God says in verses 12 and 15, "Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whoever hears of it, both his ears will tingle . . . because they have done evil in My sight and have provoked Me to anger. . . ." God prophesies severe punishment for Judah because He sees it is plain that the people themselves are corrupt, not just their king.

After Manasseh's death, his son Amon rules for only two years, assassinated by his own servants. And so eight-year-old Josiah ascends to the throne of Judah. His story begins in II Kings 22:1, "Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem." Through the chronicler, God comments, "And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left."

Mike Ford (1955-2021)

Related Topics: Josiah


2 Kings 22:1

Obviously, at age 8, he is not handling the day-to-day matters of the kingdom. He holds the title of king, but he is more than likely being schooled and groomed by a regent. Part of that schooling is to teach him the ways of God. We do not know for sure who was responsible for this part of his education (it may have been Hilkiah, the high priest), but Josiah is receptive to it (II Chronicles 34:3-5).

Mike Ford

2 Kings 22:8-10

Judah has drifted so far from God that they have forgotten His written Word existed! Between Manasseh and Josiah, sixty years have gone by without righteous leadership, and only a small number of God-fearing people are left, most of them elderly. A pitiful few remember a time when the true God was worshipped, much less what that worship involves. In His mercy, giving Judah one last chance to repent, God places some of the few remaining believers in mentoring positions around the young Josiah.

Mike Ford

2 Kings 22:11-13

Josiah fears not only for himself, but for his subjects, his brethren.

Mike Ford

Related Topics: Josiah | Josiah's Motivation


2 Kings 22:16-17

At this point, six years into Josiah's reformation, God informs the young king that the people were only giving lip-service to his efforts. Their hearts had not changed; they had not truly repented and turned to God. He is, however, a merciful God, slow to anger, quick to forgive; the terrible price will not be paid just yet.

Mike Ford

2 Kings 22:19-20

A normal leader at this point, his life secure, might well have walked away from trying to help any further, yet Josiah is far from typical. God's warning only motivates him to redouble his efforts.

Mike Ford

2 Chronicles 33:1

Manasseh was the son of the second or third best king that Judah ever had. A list of the three best kings of Judah, hands down, begins with David, and he stands in a class of his own because every king is compared to him, even the good ones. He is the standard. Only three other kings are compared favorably to David: Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah. God seems to draw special attention to Josiah as having been the second best, with Hezekiah being the third, and Jehoshaphat the fourth. That is my own list, but it has sound biblical reasoning behind it.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Three Kings Are Missing From Matthew 1

2 Chronicles 34:32-33

By the sheer force of Josiah's personality and example, the people stay in line, but they do not truly live righteously like Josiah. Josiah clears everything connected with pagan practices from the land and provides the people with godly leadership. However, only twelve short years after his death—after attempts by two sons and a grandson to rule—Judah falls captive to Babylon. Even Josiah's family, both immediate and extended, fail to follow his sterling example.

Mike Ford

Jeremiah 22:15-16

God is saying, "Do you think you are ruling because you have the trappings of royalty, because you have money, power, and prestige, because you are the sons of David, the literal sons of Josiah?"

To put it more plainly, He says, "Your right to reign does not rest on your wealth or position." It relied on God Himself. His statement probably infuriated them.

"Did not your father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness?" may sound a bit odd, but He is painting a word picture. Just as Josiah, their father, ate and drank, it was also a normal part of his life to do justice and righteousness. To him, those godly acts were like eating and drinking.

They are supposed to be innate to us too, as natural as eating and drinking to do righteousness and justice! Josiah was a child when he came to the throne, and by the time he was sixteen, he had begun to purge Judah of idolatry. He did a splendid job of putting Judah back on track, as much as any man could do.

Then God says, "Then it was well with him." That is the way it works. That is how blessings come. Verse 16 continues the thought: "'He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Was not this knowing Me?' says the LORD."

Here is a critical point. We should not think that just judging the cause of the poor and the needy is involved in knowing God. It is certainly part of knowing God. The thought stems from the earlier mention that Josiah performed justice and righteousness naturally, as part of his everyday behavior, and it manifested in defending the cause of the poor and needy. Through this process, he came to know God.

Knowing God was the ultimate result of thinking through the good works he was doing, considering how they would work out, weighing the various ways he might work through the various situations, and then carrying them through to its end.

Why is this? Because God does things the same way! He does this all the time! He is constantly thinking, working the problem, and projecting how things will work out if He does this or that. If His choices seem equally good, He will figure out which one will work the best to bring about His ultimate aim.

When we begin to do things as He does, we come to know Him. The mind of God starts to form in us. We learn to judge situations—people's actions, situations, everything—as He does. As a result of our imitation of God, our relationship grows because we are becoming like each other. We enjoy each other's company because we see ourselves in each other.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
"If I Have Not Charity"

Lamentations 2:1-9

Jeremiah is the likely author of Lamentations, writing after reflecting on the devastation of Jerusalem following the invasion of Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonian army. A number of prophets, Jeremiah being the most obvious, had thoroughly warned the Jews for many years. God even raised up a righteous king, Josiah, to provide godly governmental and religious leadership, but it was to no avail because the people were not truly repentant and sincere in any changes they made. The changes were only on the surface, not reaching their hearts, so idolatry—especially—continued to rage unabated.

The chapter continues with more of the same, leaving no doubt at all that God was directly responsible for His reaction to their sins. Jerusalem's devastation did not merely happen randomly in the course of history. God was directly involved. He brought on the horrific fear and pain. It was His warnings through the prophets that were ignored because they did not fear the Lord and did not truly believe that they were answerable to Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Fully Accepting God's Sovereignty (Part One)

Find more Bible verses about Josiah:
Josiah {Nave's}

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