As we think about Josiah, and we see that he has a contrite heart and is full of humility, there is another verse that we need to remember and this was in Zephaniah. In Zephaniah 3:12 we read, “I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord.” Who is Zephaniah talking about? Josiah was one of them, because he heard the Word and responded in meek humility. And there were others who joined with him humbly seeking the Lord and obeying His Word. This is part of the blessing that we find in the midst of a message of judgment.
God does promise to lift up the humble. In Matthew 18:4 Jesus says, “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” What a picture of humility – a little child. Tender. Needy. Dependent.
Romans 12:16 tells us, “Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” How often do we think more of ourselves than we should? All the time. We need to be humble and we need to associate with the humble. Being around humble people reminds us that we are not all that! We are dependent upon God and each other.
In James 4:6, 10 we read, “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” And, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
Have you ever felt like you could use more grace? You know how to get more grace? Humble yourself. When it says that we humble ourselves and God will lift us up, the lifting up is not God putting you in a place to be praised and envied! To be humble is to bow down. We bow down before God. And when we bow before Him in humility He lifts us up in grace.
We seek the Lord. We find Him through humility. He is near to those who have a humble and contrite spirit.
As we continue, it says that Josiah’s heart was tender, he was humble, and he wept before the Lord. He experienced godly sorrow over the threat of judgment because of the peoples’ sin and as he heard God’s Word now God says He has heard Josiah.
Josiah wept. He was grieved over sin. As King, just as a parent grieves over the bad choices their children might make, he was sorrowful for the sins of Judah. He saw the sin. He saw how deep and ingrained it was. He saw the judgment that was coming. And he tore his garments and he wept in sorrow and repentance.
Psalm 30:5 tells us, “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” When we know that God is angry, when we know the Spirit is quenched and grieved over our sin, that should grieve us. It should grieve us when we grieve others, especially grieving the Spirit of God. Honestly that should scare us, too! We should weep over our sinfulness, knowing that the weeping lasts for a moment but joy is coming in the morning – with a new dose of mercy and grace.
In Joel 2:12-13 the prophet says, “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.” Turn to God in grief for your sin! Embrace Him with humility and with joy.
This was Josiah’s attitude because of the ministry of Zephaniah, and because of the Word of God. He heard the Word and responded with a tender and contrite heart, humility, godly sorrow and repentance.
As a result then, looking at 2 Kings 23, in the first 25 verses we will see what happened when Josiah heard the Word of the Lord and obeyed it. He Restored the Worship of the Lord.
“Now the king sent them to gather all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem to him. 2 The king went up to the house of the Lord with all the men of Judah, and with him all the inhabitants of Jerusalem—the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the Lord.
After he heard the Word of the Lord he gathered the people together at the Temple so that they could hear the Word also. He read them God’s Word. He read them the Scriptures so that they could hear that the message the prophets had proclaimed was true, that God was serious about sin and that judgment was coming. As he read the Word to the people it says,
“3 Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people took a stand for the covenant.
Do you see what Josiah is doing here? He is renewing the Covenant. This is just like Joshua after they crossed over into the Promised Land after the judgment of the wandering in the wilderness. They renewed their commitment to the Lord by renewing the Covenant. Josiah is calling Judah back to the Lord their God. He is reading the Scriptures to them and renewing the Covenant. And as God moved in their midst they responded. They listened. They took a stand for the Covenant. It says in verse 4,
“4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, the priests of the second order, and the doorkeepers, to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the articles that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel.
He finished his cleanse of the Land by cleaning the Temple. His purpose for doing this is that “5 Then he removed the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had ordained to burn incense on the high places in the cities of Judah and in the places all around Jerusalem, and those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun, to the moon, to the constellations, and to all the host of heaven.
He took all of those teaching false religion and false worship and exposed them, destroying the images and the implements of their worship. He cleaned house, the House of the Lord.
6 And he brought out the wooden image from the house of the Lord, to the Brook Kidron outside Jerusalem, burned it at the Brook Kidron and ground it to ashes, and threw its ashes on the graves of the common people. 7 Then he tore down the ritual booths of the perverted persons that were in the house of the Lord, where the women wove hangings for the wooden image. 8 And he brought all the priests from the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba; also he broke down the high places at the gates which were at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were to the left of the city gate. 9 Nevertheless the priests of the high places did not come up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brethren.
10 And he defiled Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech. 11 Then he removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance to the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-Melech, the officer who was in the court; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. 12 The altars that were on the roof, the upper chamber of Ahaz, which the kings of Judah had made, and the altars which Manasseh had made in the two courts of the house of the Lord, the king broke down and pulverized there, and threw their dust into the Brook Kidron. 13 Then the king defiled the high places that were east of Jerusalem, which were on the south of the Mount of Corruption, which Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the people of Ammon. 14 And he broke in pieces the sacred pillars and cut down the wooden images, and filled their places with the bones of men.
15 Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he broke down; and he burned the high place and crushed it to powder, and burned the wooden image. (This at Bethel was a place where they set up a golden calf and when I get the sermons online from Amos you will hear where Amos directly confronts them over this abomination). 16 As Josiah turned, he saw the tombs that were there on the mountain. And he sent and took the bones out of the tombs and burned them on the altar, and defiled it according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words. 17 Then he said, “What gravestone is this that I see?”So the men of the city told him, “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel.”18 And he said, “Let him alone; let no one move his bones.” So they let his bones alone, with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria.19 Now Josiah also took away all the shrines of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger; and he did to them according to all the deeds he had done in Bethel. 20 He executed all the priests of the high places who were there, on the altars, and burned men’s bones on them; and he returned to Jerusalem.