JUNE 29 - Nº 180 2 Kings 23:4-31; 2 Chronicles 35
After finding the Book and renewing Judah’s covenant with God, the young king named Josiah was even more committed to getting rid of idolatry. He ordered all the pagan places of worship in and around Jerusalem to be destroyed. He removed the horses and burned the chariots that the kings before him had dedicated to worshiping the sun. He turned the Valley of Hinnom into a detestable place so that no one could use it for human sacrifices again. Then he traveled through the rest of Judah and personally supervised the destruction of all the pagan altars and places of idol worship. He even traveled into the Assyrian territory of Samaria. When he arrived in Bethel, Josiah demolished the golden calf that Jeroboam had set up. He burned it and ground it into powder. As he looked around, he noticed several tombs on the hillside where pagan priests had been buried. He removed their bones and burned them in the fire that was melting the golden altar. No one offered sacrifices there again. After he had emptied the tombs of the priests, Josiah noticed another memorial. “Whose tombstone is that?” he asked. Some people who lived there replied, “That is the tomb of the prophet who came from Judah and warned Jeroboam that it was evil to set up a golden calf. He prophesied that the very things you did today would happen to this altar. You have fulfilled his prophecy!” (See #132 - May 12.) “Leave his monument alone,” King Josiah instructed. “Don’t let anyone disturb this prophet’s bones.” He continued going through Samaria tearing down altars and executing the priests who refused to honor God. When he finally arrived back in Jerusalem, Josiah organized a Passover feast to celebrate God’s goodness. He ordered the priests and Levites to prepare it according to all the instructions that God had given Moses. Josiah and other wealthy leaders provided generously so that everyone could offer a sacrifice. There had never been a Passover celebration like this before! And there had never been a king like Josiah—who loved and served the Lord with all his mind, heart, and strength. Even during an extremely wicked time in history, he completely obeyed God’s commandments. When Josiah was 39 years old, Pharaoh Necho, the king of Egypt, led his army through Judah. The Pharaoh was on his way to the Euphrates River to help Assyria fight against the Babylonians. Josiah mustered his troops and met the Egyptian army in the valley of Megiddo. Pharaoh Necho was not happy. “My battle is not with you. Your God has sent me on this mission. Don’t get in the way or He will use me to destroy you,” he insisted. Sadly, Josiah didn’t listen. He disguised himself so Necho would be willing to engage him in battle. Suddenly Josiah was hit by an arrow. His servants rushed him back to Jerusalem—where he died. All of Judah mourned the death of their great king. Even the prophet Jeremiah composed songs that were sung in his honor.
Although Josiah lived during a tremendously wicked time, he was willing to stand strong for God. He knew that only a few people would really listen, and that disaster would still come (see #179 - June 28). But that didn’t make him any less determined to try to turn people’s hearts back to God. (Those who did are now eternally grateful!) Are you willing to be a bright light in a dark place even if only one person takes notice?