In the last decades before her capture by Babylon, the nation of Judah placed a boy on her throne. Josiah became the ruler of his people after the assassination of his idolatrous and wicked father Amon. And, if you know your Judean kings well, you know that Josiah’s grandfather Manasseh was wicked – one of the worst!
King Josiah reigned for 31 years (640-609 BC), and it was only four years after his death that a group of teens from the Jerusalem nobility were led captive to Babylon (i.e., Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego).
How important it was, therefore, that at least some of God’s people would enter into the captivity full of faith and zeal for the Lord God. Though the necessary judgment of God had fallen on His people, a remnant would follow God throughout the 70 years of captivity – knowing that the discipline of the Lord was not a sign of His breaking covenant, but only a cleansing of His people. He would restore them again, even as Isaiah had promised.
But, how did this remnant find the theological knowledge with which to form a right understanding of God? Given the evil reigns of Manasseh and Amon (and countless other wicked kings), how did this righteous group even have access to the Word?
2 Kings 22 provides part of the answer, for in this chapter we see that 18 years into the reign of Josiah, he commissions a group of people to make some renovations and fixes to the Temple. In so doing, the workers discovered some of the scrolls of God’s Word which had been mostly lost. We are to understand that these were unknown to Josiah prior to this time, because when he heard the Word of God from these scrolls, he acted as one who was cut to the heart by fresh revelation. The Word of God convicted Josiah and caused him to inaugurate vast spiritual reforms among God’s people.
Though only 26 at the time, Josiah worked great reforms — all driven by the discovery of the Word of God. Here is just a portion, a summary if you will, of King Josiah’s reforms:
Moreover, Josiah 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 LORD.  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 23:24-25 ESV)
Did you catch that? It says that King Josiah “turned to the Lord” more than any king before or after him. Sure, the kings after him were bad – that we know. But the kings before Josiah included giants like David and Hezekiah!
That’s the power of the Word of God being “found” – literally or figuratively.
So, let’s make very clear the steps we’ve learned about here:
- King Josiah found God’s Word.
- Powerful spiritual reformation exploded throughout the land.
- 17 years later, a group of 15-20-year-old teens stood on the Word in opposition to Babylonian king edicts. Though far from home, the Temple or parental oversight, these teens knew and obeyed the Word because they loved the God of the Word.
Tomorrow, building on this biblical narrative of Word-brought spiritual reformation, I’m going to post a modern-day story of a church which recently “found the Bible.”