“Moreover, put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might establish the words of the law that were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the .” – 2 Kings 23:24
During my reading through the scriptures I recently came across the story of Josiah and his reign over Judah in 2 Kings. I was stricken by the reformations that took place under this young king who had taken over as ruler at the age of eight. In his thirty-one year reign he repaired the temple, restored the Passover, and recovered the law of God and it’s application among his people. What makes this so impressive is not just his youthfulness but also the fact that he had been preceded by generations of evil kings and Judah was deeply steeped in idolatry and the pagan religions of the surrounding nations. He was an isolated case of faithfulness in a long line of wicked and idolatrous kings. Furthermore, prior to his reign God had already decreed the judgment of Judah for this wickedness and reaffirmed his intentions during the reign of Josiah. Josiah’s reformations were a great blessing to his generation but did not avert the judgment of God for the sins previously committed. Shortly after Josiah’s death, Judah returned to idolatry under the reign of Jehoiakim and taken into Babylonian captivity under Nebuchadnezzar. God had decreed judgment prior to Josiah’s righteous reign and carried it out after his death.
To think that the effects of Josiah’s reforms were short lived would be a mistake. What is not evident in your reading of the story in 2 Kings becomes very clear when you get to the book of Daniel. What is barely mentioned in 2 Kings is elaborated on in Daniel. What you learn by considering these two books in their chronological relationship is that during the reforms of Josiah, Jewish families returned to the law and reestablished the practices that would raise a generation of young people who would be faithful to God. Among those young people were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Also known as Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. This explains how Judah could be so steeped in idolatry for generations, while still producing such godly young men. Josiah’s reign appears as an isolated caveat in Judah’s history. However, God was providentially preparing a remnant of faithful people in order to preserve his promises through the captivity that he ordained would come. God is faithful to his promises.
When you feel the apparent irrelevance of your own obedience in the grand scheme of things, remember that it is God and not men, in their limited scope, who makes all things work together for our good. Our lives are one small piece of a magnificent puzzle that our great creator is putting together. The puzzle must have that small piece to be a finished work.