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. (2 Kings 23:25)
This verse indicates the high regard that God had for King Josiah. As we’ll see in a moment, there truly was no king like him because of all that he did in his zeal and passion for the Lord. He had a heartfelt desire to serve Yahweh so deeply that it was at the core of his very soul. It made him accomplish things with such might and authority that God subsequently protected him in an unexpected way from the wrath He still intended to rain down upon Judah because of her past sins.
Upon becoming king and hearing the Word of the Lord that had been found in the temple and effectively buried for hundreds of years, Josiah’s heart burned within him to do for Yahweh what had never truly been done before. He embarked on a literal crusade to clean up the land from the filth of the many abominable idols and practices that had been encouraged or willfully overlooked by all the kings before him.
The gods of all the surrounding nations had been imported into Israel and Judah. Yahweh had allowed the destruction of Israel because of this. Israel was first to fall because she was on such a fast track, having no righteous kings at all. Judah followed close behind, but God allowed her to maintain nation status for a while longer because there had been kings before Josiah who were righteous. However, we see from Scripture that inevitably the prior kings didn’t eradicate pagan religion and its trappings from the land. Usually, we see in the account of past kings that they didn’t tear down the high places where the people sacrificed to and worshiped foreign gods.
But Josiah was different. He attacked every pagan god, religious practice, and institution that had arisen and remained over the years that were against the Law of Moses given from the hand of God.
In 2 Kings 23 the text details much of what Josiah did to restore honor to Yahweh. Briefly, here is an outline:
- Brought out vessels dedicated to Baal, Asherah, and the host of heaven from the temple
- Deposed the pagan priests of the high places who had burned incense to these many gods
- Removed the Asherah poles, i.e. the phallic poles, that disgraced the temple
- Destroyed the building that housed the male cult prostitutes who practiced their “craft” in the temple
- Defiled the high places of sacrifice and offering
- Ruined the place where the people sacrificed and burned their children as an offering to Molech
- Removed statues of horses at the temple entrance that had been dedicated to the sun as an object of creation worship
- Similarly removed chariots built for the same purpose
- Tore down the altars that King Manasseh had built in the temple
- Defiled a high place known as the mount of corruption where pagan gods Ashtoreth, Chemosh, and Milcom had been worshiped, along with the Asherah poles that had honored them
- Removed shrines and many other altars in high places
- Put away all practitioners of sorcery
- Did away with the people’s household gods and idols
It was in doing all these things that God praised Josiah for, as noted above in 2 Kings 23:25.
However, as we see in our own lives, just because we come to the Lord in heartfelt repentance and are truly forgiven by Him, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we aren’t impacted by the consequences of our past actions. This is all too clear as we read in 2 Kings 23:26-27:
Still the Lord did not turn from the burning of his great wrath, by which his anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked him. And the Lord said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.”
God has a red line of demarcation. Once a person or a nation passes that line, all bets are off. This was the case with Judah in the aftermath of Israel’s demise. Judah should have taken heed and turned from her wicked ways. But she didn’t. She was already too far gone when Josiah came on the scene. In 2 Kings 24:20, here’s how the text depicts this:
For because of the anger of the Lord it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast them out from his presence.
This is the red line of no return.
Yahweh had Judah’s demise mapped out and planned well beforehand. It would happen in His timing. Because of this we see a mercy extended to Josiah. Rather than allow him to suffer the demise of Judah and see her go into exile, God allowed Josiah to be killed before all that happened. Sometimes we question why someone had to die at a certain time. It just may be because of the mercy that God extends to them so they won’t experience a greater distress.
How does Josiah’s zeal for the Lord relate to us today? Here’s the question: When you became truly born-again through sincere, heartfelt repentance and were washed by the blood of Christ, what did you do with all the accumulated detritus from your past?
If you were into New Age or occult practices, how did you handle the many books and objects that were associated with them? If you were part of a secret society, what steps did you take to completely renounce and disassociate yourself?
We know that in Ephesus, the people who practiced dark arts certainly recognized what they had to do as recorded in Acts 19:18-20:
Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
Regardless of what these books had cost, they burned them. Despite any sentimental value, they threw them into the fire.
Some years after I came to the Lord, I came across some items from my grandfather. It turned out that he had been a Freemason and had various items from that association, even a Bible. Freemasonry at its lower levels has an appearance of Christianity and doing good deeds. I don’t believe my grandfather was very high in their ranks. However, Freemasonry is an ages-old secret society that progressively reveals, as one graduates to higher degrees – 33rd degree Mason being the highest – that it is Satanic to the core, worshiping Lucifer as its god. You can’t be an atheist and be a Mason.
I didn’t know as much then about Freemasonry as I do now, but I did know that any items that were part of that practice had no place in my Christian household. Demonic items retain power. I wanted none of that. As a result I burned everything of my grandfather’s from his Freemason past, including the Bible.
Shocking? Perhaps, but it had the taint of Satan and his devious ways upon it because of what Freemasonry is, and I would have nothing to do with it.
Everyone of us has a past life before Christ. Do you retain anything from it that could be impairing your walk with the Lord? I have a friend who had many such objects that he and his wife had accumulated in their world travels. These included a statue of Buddha and like items. Some of you may not believe this, but it became evident that there was a demonic spirit that maintained a stronghold within their house. It was only upon destroying all these objects and consecrating their household to God did the influence of these things flee to a more accommodating place.
Don’t be naive about the residual power that such items can retain. Examine your life and your walk with the Lord. Is it all that it should be? If not, perhaps like Josiah and others since him, you should rid yourself of anything that could hinder you.
God wants all of us, and He wants us to eliminate anything in our lives that keeps us wholly from Him.