As Judah’s time as an independent nation was drawing to a close, God raised up one last faithful king to try to preserve their divine blessing and position. Young King Josiah had a heart for the Lord, and through his actions was able to undo many of the evil and idolatrous worship practices that Judah had established. At the end the day, though, his efforts to turn the hearts of people back to the Lord did not produce a long-term repentance, nor did they prevent Judah’s eventual exile to Babylon. Even if we are king, there are great limitations on what we can control beyond our own behavior and actions.
1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2 And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. 4 They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down; and the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images he broke in pieces, and made dust of them and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 2 Chronicles 34:1-4 NKJV
Aside from Jesus, none of us is perfect. Christ lived out His time on earth as a faithful follower of His Father’s will, and we are blessed that He never deviated or changed His mind about His mission of salvation for those of us who have come to believe. Other than Jesus, the rest of us have fallen well short of perfection in our walk with God.
Most of the kings of Israel and Judah did not follow God’s ways or lead their people in the direction God wanted them to go. King Josiah was different. He stuck to God’s plan from the beginning. This was a very good thing as he only lived to be thirty-nine years old, and thus was able to make the most of his limited time on earth for maximum eternal benefit.
King Josiah made every effort to help Judah and its capital, Jerusalem, clean up their act and recover from the poor choices they had made. The Lord placed this desire on Josiah’s heart at a young age – by the time he was sixteen years old, he was sincerely seeking to learn about and follow after the will of God.
Many of us today are most open to spiritual matters in our teen years. Though many of us will walk away from God for a season, the seeds planted in our youth will often draw us right back to Him later in life.
The lures that pulled Judah away from the Lord are the same ones that tempt us away from Him today. Alcohol and drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, worshiping the creation rather than the Creator, devoting ourselves to the pursuit of material things, fame, or wealth – these are idols that will attempt to pull us further and further away from the Lord. Slowly but surely, we begin to choose personal gratification, moral short-cuts, and the pursuit of unhealthy pleasures over what we know to be God’s ways, ways which lead to the blessings of faith, peace, serenity, and joy. Over time, we may even snuff out our own consciences so that they do not even bother us anymore when we do wrong.
No one is immune from these temptations, as many who are believers today who once walked this dark path can attest. Similarly, no one is beyond the hope and redemption of God if we are willing to take a small step of faith back towards Him. If we will open the door of willingness just a crack, God will show us the way and help us to take that next small step of faith. Soon we find ourselves being rescued out of a pit of hopelessness and despair, and well on our way to experiencing joy and a satisfying life in Him. One cannot put a price on this blessing – it can only be purchased by the loving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf.
Once we have found it, how can we share this great blessing with others? Just like King Josiah, we are extremely limited in what we can “control” in others – in fact, we cannot control others at all! The basic tools we have available are prayer, being a living example, listening carefully, sharing scripture and our own experiences, and showing love, support, and kindness without enabling bad behavior. Beyond that, the behaviors of other people are in God’s and their own hands.
King Josiah did everything in his power to facilitate the salvation of his nation and to save them from the sting of defeat and exile. But at the end of the day, the ultimate results were in their hands and God’s. Oftentimes, we find ourselves in a similar position with those that we love – our hearts and God’s plead for the very best in their lives. We never give up in our prayers and in our efforts to live our own lives as a positive influence on them and others, just as King Josiah did.
Lord, we pray a special prayer for those we love who are not walking with You. Help us to do better in our own walks and use us as shining lights of hope to draw others to You and Your healing Spirit. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.