Josiah, josiahs-reformthrough the ministry of Zephaniah, became convinced, that he needed to bring reform to the nation in their worship. What we know from studying the book of Zephaniah, when he ministered, when he preached, he had started long before the reform setting the stage, laying the foundation for a revival in the land. Josiah became king at 8 and by the time he was 16 was listening to the prophet and looking for ways to restore the land. Then by the time he was 20 years old, he had massive reformation underway as he was tearing down idols and removing false gods from the land.

The Bible tells us that Josiah was one of the godliest kings to reign. You can read about it further in 2 Chronicles 34 and 35. At 8 years into his reign he began to seek the Lord, and at 12 years he was tearing down idols, and at the 18th year, he started to rebuild the Temple. You see, the Temple had been in disrepair. During the repairs, Hilkiah discovered a book, he uncovered a scroll in the ruins of the Temple. They took and gave it to the King. They had found a scroll – they had found the law – they had found Scripture. In the midst of reforms prompted by the preaching of the prophets, Josiah is introduced to the scrolls of Scripture. In verse 19 it is described, “Thus it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes. 20 Then the king commanded Hilkiah, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Abdon the son of Micah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king, saying, 21 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for those who are left in Israel and Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book.”

He mourned over sin. He grieved. He repented. And he sought to know what the words of the Lord meant. Upon having the judgments of God explained to him he brought even greater change, reform, and revival to the land.

Then Josiah restored worship at the Temple. One of the first things he did to accomplish this was to observe the Passover. He reinstituted the Feast. The Scripture says he was a king who did what was right in the sight of God. His life teaches us 4 principles of reformation. They had fallen so far into idolatry that they were no longer worshipping God as He commanded and expected. And we see now that one person did make a difference in an entire nation.

Josiah was faithful. He was faithful to remove the idols from the land. This is what Zephaniah proclaimed. Repentance from sin. Josiah and Zephaniah teach us these principles of reform. We must start with repentance. Daily repenting of our sins of commission and omission.

This kind of repentance is what it takes to die to self daily. We realize the sin that is still in us, in our fallen flesh, and we reject it and walk by faith trusting Christ.

The second principle of Josiah’s reform is that he returned the people to the Lord. It was not enough to remove the idols, he had to restore faith in the one, true God. People had to hear and believe the Word of God.

The third principle of reform we learn from Josiah is that he read and obeyed God’s Word. He did not merely repent, or believe, but he also mediated in the Word of God with the intention to do what it said – to obey it. He prayed, believed, heard, and preached! He told people what he had found in the Word of God.

The final principle of reform that Josiah brought was that he restored right worship. Josiah determined that as the people repented of the sin of idolatry, trusting God’s Word, praying and inquiry of God for direction and guidance, listening to His Word as it is read and preached, then the people needed to worship God as God desired to be worshipped. He did this through the Feast of Passover.

Does God tell us how He wants to be worshipped? Jesus had a discussion with a woman at a well. A Samaritan. A woman who had been married and divorced numerous times and even now was living with a man who was not her husband. This discussion in John 4 was about worship. She had a question. She asked, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” How did Jesus reply?

“God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

What does it mean to worship in spirit and truth? That is what Zephaniah had taught Josiah. It means to worship God in the power of the Holy Spirit, coming to Him as it is revealed in His Word that we should come to Him, to give Him what He desires. What does God desire? Truth. Brokenness. Reverence. Faith. Contrition. Sacrifice.

Worship like this is worship empowered and led by the Spirit, who is, by the way, the Spirit of truth who will lead us into truth. We do not need to invent new ways to worship – the Bible refers to that as introducing strange fire to the altar and the consequences are spiritually deadly. We come to God to worship with an attitude of repentance and faith, submitting ourselves to the Word of God.

Imagine if we lived each day like this. Removing idols, repenting of sin, walking by faith, determining that everything we do throughout the day is an act of worship, for worship is not the singing at church, or the preaching at church, it is the way we live.

A family I know several years ago had a situation where the older brother was not living as he ought in the moment and mom asked him from their study of the catechism who it was that he was representing by his actions. Before he could answer, his younger sister blurted out, “The Devil!”

If we are not representing Christ in all that we do then we are indeed representing the devil. We do this all too often.

Judah, for all of these years, 40 under Manasseh and 2 under Amon, had been disobeying and dishonoring God. Eight years after Josiah became king he began seeking the Lord – after 50 years of wickedness throughout the land after Hezekiah’s death Josiah brought reform. He found the Word of God, heard it, applied, it, loved it, obeyed it. He brought about the greatest revival in the history of Judah. All of this due to the faithful preaching of a minor prophet who most people haven’t even read. Zephaniah. Now we will devote these next weeks to studying the Word of the Lord proclaimed through this hidden prophet who tells us about the coming Day of the Lord. As we study, keep these things in mind: The days of Josiah were a lot like today. The people needed revival and reform. Zephaniah and Josiah teach us that we are never done reforming. Semper Reformanda – always reforming. Always being conformed and transformed. Always being more and more like Christ. May that be our resolution in this new year. Faithfulness. Obedience. Reformation. This is Romans 12:1-2 in daily life:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.