Josiah Finishes Well
Josiah receives the message from Huldah well. Her words from the Lord give him inspiration. (Note: Interesting that a male dominated culture has no problem seeking the advice of a female prophet.) Josiah invited everyone in Jerusalem, from the least to the greatest, to hear the Word of the Lord.
He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord–to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul… 2 Kings 23:2-3
Everyone recommitted themselves to the teaching, they all agreed to uphold their part of the covenant.
Josiah systematically removed all of the articles of worship throughout the kingdom…a lot of stuff to be burned and destroyed. Remember that Manasseh ruled for 55 years and incorporated all kinds of idolatrous worship. Josiah removed them all. Even the place where it all began:
Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin–even that altar and high place he demolished. 2 Kings 23:15
Josiah served the Lord with all his heart, soul and strength and he gave the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefield fighting the Egyptians.
Next we have Jehoahaz, 23 years old. He “reigned” for 3 months. I put reigned in quotes because of the extremely short duration of his rise to the throne! In just 3 months “he did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (2 Kings 23:32. Seriously? Pharaoh took Jehoahaz away in chains; he died in Egypt.
Pharaoh Necho placed Eliakim, one of Josiah’s sons, in charge as king, but renamed him Jehoiakim. The Pharaoh wanted people to know he was in charge! Jehoiakim was 25 when he was made king and he reigned for 11 years. The puppet of Pharaoh did evil in the eyes of the Lord, again.
Nebuchadnezzar enters the picture during Jehoiakim’s reign. For 3 years Nebuchadnezzar, the crown prince of Babylon, defeated Pharaoh and began asserting his power.
Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. 2 Kings 24:3
Another short-lived ascent to the throne, Jehoiachin was 18 and reigned for 3 months. His claim to fame is surrendering to Nebuchadnezzar when he came in person to Jerusalem. He imprisoned Jehoiachin until the 37th year of exile when Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon released him.
All of Jerusalem was taken into exile and all of the treasures from the temple were removed. “Only the poorest people of the land were left” (2 Kings 24:14).
Zedekiah (renamed by the king of Babylon) was placed as king. At 21 years of age, he reigned for 11 years. There was no real hope that another puppet-king would have a chance, but we always have a choice and Zedekiah chose to do evil in the eyes of the Lord.
The Fall of Jerusalem
At this point it is no surprise that we come to the end of the kings of our ancestors. Nebuchadnezzar takes over in full force:
He set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down the walls around Jerusalem. 2 Kings 25:9-10
The life-work of Solomon was destroyed. Everything that was used to glorify God was removed, carried away to Babylon. Gone.
So Judah went into captivity, away from her land. 2 Kings 25:21
Those who were afraid fled to Egypt to hide. How interesting that they would seek refuge in the very place that Moses led them out of so many years ago.
As those of us who call ourselves Christ-followers go about our daily lives, I pray that we can see the ways we have become like the many who did evil in the eyes of the Lord, but only enough to turn away from the foolishness of idolatry. Jesus gave us a simple command to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). But simple doesn’t mean easy. It’s truly difficult to discern the difference between paths that are before us. Living in this world while not being consumed by its demands is a challenge. We only have a chance if we put Christ first. Lord, help us to do just that. Help us to love you first with everything we have and love others. Let that shine through us and draw people to Christ.