“One day in the eighteenth year of his kingship, with the cleanup of country and Temple complete, King Josiah sent Shaphan …to renovate The Temple of God.” 2 Chronicles 34:8
The story of King Josiah is such a soul refreshing read. This young king began ruling at the age of 8 years old. If he had lived in our time we would say he did not grow up in a Christian home. In fact, his grandfather, King Manasseh, and his father, Amon, both modeled depraved, evil lifestyles before his eyes. Yet, Scripture records that Josiah by the grace of God "did what was right in the eyes of the Lord".
The way Josiah "did what was right" was through a personal spiritual resolve to clean up and renovate the land that he ruled. That clean up included tearing down all the repulsive idols that had been built in rebellion to the living God. Beyond that, he desired to renovate the dwelling place of God–the Temple in Jerusalem.
It makes me smile when reading Scripture get caught up in the story of man–the thoughts and plans of characters are unfolded and it is easy to think that you are reading the real story. It is then that God grabs you through the text and tells a greater story! In this account God weaves His storyline right in with Josiah’s surpassing the plans of man that can only accomplish renovations–fixing up external ruins. God on the other hand is shown to be on the march to do His favorite work–He is pressing inward to the heart of the king He is accomplishing an internal restoration of the soul!
Josiah was earnestly seeking to show his love for God by fixing the Temple— a building that represented his God. God displayed His love for Josiah by allowing him to uncover a tool that goes beyond renovation –one that is powerful in the redemptive work of restoration!
During the Temple renovation, Josiah’s workmen "discovered" the Book of the Law. Scripture is clear that it was "found" which highlights the fact that God’s people were no longer people of the Word–His Word –His agent of restoration had been lost to His people.
When Josiah heard the Word of God read aloud he was horror struck! He realized how far his heart was from the heart of God. His plans for renovation were dropped and he fell humbly before God in repentance. That is the picture of devotion to God–our external works are not the goal of God –restored hearts are.
My mother has a saying that she repeats often, "What you don’t know can’t hurt you." The truth is, God reveals in this story of Josiah that what His people don’t know can indeed hurt them. He has given the gift of His revealed Word–the communication of His heart–the owner’s manual for living. Losing or ignoring the manual results in the saddest waste of life as it was intended to be lived. Listen to God’s commentary on all of this as He spoke to Josiah.
"Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD. Now I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.’” 2 Chronicles 34:26-28
Come restore your people again O Lord. Guide us to discover your living and active Word. Repentance and Restoration what a good way to live. AMEN