He reigned as king for 31 years.
It’s hard to imagine that he began his reign when he was only eight years old. He was a special young man…a special boy.
But it wasn’t just his young age that set him apart, for wisdom followed closely with the steps of his life and most importantly he loved God and honored him. The bible tells us that he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in all the way of David his great-great-great…grandfather, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.
His name was Josiah.
The bible tells us that both his father and grandfather followed not after the true God as did Josiah. Manasseh, his grandfather was particularly wicked, doing that which was evil in God’s eyes, building up the high places of pagan worship which Josiah’s grandfather Hezekiah had destroyed. Manasseh built altars to Baal and established groves, used for the worship of the stars, moon and sun, even building such altars within the house of the Lord God. The bible also tells us that Manasseh offered human sacrifices to Baal, offering a son to be burned in the fire while he utilized evil enchantments and engaged with familiar spirits and wizards, kindling God’s anger against the practices of his people.
After 18 years of ruling, we are told that Hilkiah the high priest of God found a scroll—a book of the law in the temple, giving it to a scribe by the name of Shaphan who brought it before the king and read the words therein. And when Josiah heard it, we witness a man who loved and served the Lord, for the words cut him deeply—his hands tearing his clothes as God’s penetrated his heart. Calling his men to him, he told them that God was angry, for their fathers had not listened to the Word of God and had not done that which was right in the eyes of God. Josiah then sent them on a mission to inquire of the Lord, which they did by seeking out Huldah the prophetess.
When they found the prophetess, they gathered around and I would imagine, listened with astonishment to the pronouncement of God’s anger kindled against their people. For they had turned away from the true God, and embraced with unbridled enthusiasm false pagan gods of stone and wood. But despite their idolatry, not everything was doom and gloom, for they also heard words of grace and mercy associated with a man—their king, Josiah. Josiah, who with a tender heart towards God, savaged his clothes and wept when he realized the depth of the nation’s sins against the holy God.
Every anguishing word by the young king was heard by the LORD who held back his hand, bestowing mercy upon Josiah and his people.
With the reading of the scroll and the utterances of a prophet, that which was hidden was brought to light. What was once unknown was made known. And with the glaring truth in his hands, Josiah responded, and he did so quickly. His response was direct and thorough, but it was not rash or hasty. God had spoken, and the manner of Josiah’s actions was completely one-sided—God’s side.
His actions came without townhall meetings. There were no discussions among the elders or the rest of the people. There was no sweeping the matter under the rug, no reevaluation of God’s word through a distorted prism of the day’s social normalcy. There was no compromise. Instead, Josiah gathered he people together and read to them the words of the scroll which they had found and while everyone listened in hushed silence, Josiah made a covenant to God and the people entered into the covenant with him—a covenant of obedience to God’s word. Once the covenant was made, the king took action.
Throughout the land altars to false gods were razed and the groves were burned. Every carved and molten image was destroyed and the great altars of Baal, Ashtoreth, Chemosh and Milcom were broken apart. The priests of these high places were slaughtered on the very altars they worshiped, their bones burned along with the remains of the priests who went before them. And then Josiah turned his attention to the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, ordering a purging of every vessel and utensil used in idolatrous worship. They were taken and burned in the fields of Kidron and their ashes removed and taken to Bethel.
Can you imagine that things had gotten so bad in Judah that the worship of the sun and moon, the hosts of heaven and even Baal was happening in the temple of God?
These wicked practices were known to occur, tolerated my many and encouraged by others. Such evil practices had been in place for a very long time. What at first was resisted, soon was tolerated. What became tolerated was later accepted. What was righteous, good and acceptable to God was shoved away, put out of discussions and eventually thought, as nearly every vestige of God’s truth was done away with. That which was wrong became right. That which was unacceptable became acceptable. That which was evil, became good—in the sight of men.
But then—a scroll was found and the truth was read. The hidden thing was revealed. Hearts were stricken at the words of the living God. Conviction overwhelmed the king and the people and they acted.
But what does any of this have to do with you and with me?
Well let us begin by saying as a redeemed child of God, your very body is a temple of God.
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself. 1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT
With all of the demands that people make about their rights and privileges to set their own course and make their own decisions, it is easy to get caught up in all the dialogue and forget that we who are born again are not our own—we were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). For someone living a compromised life in this world, it is easy to slip away and lose sight of who and what we are in Christ.
In the opening pages of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians church he asks them a pointed question:
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 NET
Do you not know this? Are you ignorant of this fact? Have you not known or have you forgotten who you are and your identity?
Has this truth become hidden to you?
And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 2 Corinthians 6:16 NLT
In up coming posts, we will be talking a lot about identity. But for now, let me just say that your identity—how you see and understand yourself drastically affects your life and threatens or empowers any opportunity for you to run the race that God desires of you. An improper identity establishes inhibiting weights which are more like ship anchors, buried deeply in our hearts and minds.
Too often, people are unaware of the weights in their lives. Many were established so long ago they have long since passed into the fog of forgetfulness. Other things were not your fault but have nonetheless established deep-rooted strongholds. Links and layers of deception have been planted over the years, whether by outright rebellion or by the insidious preying actions upon you as a victim. Idolatrous mindsets have displaced God in multitudes of places. Every compromise which has displaced God, replacing him with your own desires and decisions—in other words, you are sitting in place of God on the throne of your life, calling the shots—establishes a high place of idolatry—a stronghold. And it is upon those strongholds that future thoughts are now being filtered, perpetuating the problem and strengthening the anchors of deception in their lives.
People will never be free from these weights—these idolatrous strongholds unless the hidden is first made known. But then, after the light is brought into the darkest of places shining its glaring beam on the problems, each of us must act as Josiah acted. Altar after altar must be destroyed, the bones and groves burned, and a thorough purging of the temple—your own temple of the living God, must occur!
The bible speaks of a great delusion which will come upon the earth in the last days. It speaks of the final church of the age existing in ignorance of their spiritual bankruptcy and neediness. That which should be known to them is hidden. But their strongholds—their weights are keeping them from running the race.
I hope that you will come back as we begin to walk through the temple, looking behind every curtain and every door.