2 Kings 22-23
If I asked a room full of Christians who had a good knowledge of the Bible who the most faithful king of either Judah, Israel, or the United Tribes was, I doubt anybody would say Josiah. David would get most of the votes and a few rebels would argue for Solomon. Maybe Hezekiah might even get a vote.
Well when it comes to unwavering faithfulness to God and being a spiritual leader for Israel, I am ready to make an argument for Josiah. Keep in mind that when Josiah is given the book of the Law that is found in the Temple, he is surprised by what it says. He isn’t convicted or convinced it’s a better way…he is completely stunned. There were things that the law said were good that he didn’t know were good. There were things it condemned that he didn’t know were wrong. Things were that bad.
So Josiah sets about changing things. And unlike most other good kings, there isn’t a statement at the end that reads something like, “…except for the altars to the baals and asheroths in the small cities. Those he left and people continued to disobey the Lord.” Josiah was more than thorough. He completely wiped out idol worship throughout Judah, and whenever he was done destroying a place of idol worship he would make sure to defile it with the bones of the dead. His plan is to completely eradicate idol worship from Israel forever.
He then reinstitutes the Passover. It’s significant to realize that the Passover is more than a holiday, but that it is central to Israel’s identity as God’s people whom he rescued from Egypt. It’s a reminder of covenant. It’s a teaching moment for families and in the case of Josiah, for an entire nation to relearn it’s faith heritage.
It’s a shame he doesn’t get more credit. Josiah…a man who tried to build a nation after God’s own heart. Perhaps the fact that the name Josiah has been on the top 100 names for boys for the last three years means that he if finally getting the respect he is due. (It is very randomly the tenth most popular boy name in New Mexico this year. Those New Mexicans know a good Judean king when they see one.)
Luke and Acts have many similarities. In Luke, Jesus heads to Jerusalem and looks like he will be crowned King as he is led to the Temple, where things go terribly wrong and events quickly lead to his death. In Acts, Paul heads to Jerusalem and is ushering in the Kingdom, where Jew and Gentile may worship God together and finally the dividing wall in the Temple will be torn down, but at the very rumor Paul was bringing Gentiles into the Temple they slam shut the doors and turn their back on God’s Kingdom.
A riot ensues and Paul’s life is very clearly in danger. So Paul, a man who is all things to all people speaks Greek and connects with the Roman guard and then speaks to the crowd in Aramaic. Suddenly he owns the crowd that is rioting on account of him. He knows the crowd hates what he says about Messiah and what Israel should be and that Gentiles can worship God. So he begins his defense…with very Jewish credentials. He is a Jew among Jews who loved all the ways of the Jews. Until Jesus appeared to him and changed everything. So he began to preach but God told him that Jews, especially those in Jerusalem wouldn’t believe so he should go to Gentiles and invite them to the Kingdom.
And the riot starts again.