10 Hezekiah (was) the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon. Matthew 1:10-11 ESV
The genealogy of Jesus Christ includes a list the kings of Judah from David down through the sons of King Josiah, who was the last faithful king in Israel until the arrival of Christ Himself.
Most of the kings were provided with a prophet of God to help them stay true to the Lord. Hezekiah and some kings both before and after him were ministered to by the great prophet Isaiah. But by the time Josiah was ready to seek a prophetic word from the Lord, Isaiah was no longer on the scene. Some believe that Isaiah had been cruelly killed by the rebellious and evil King Manasseh, but this is not confirmed in the Bible.
Josiah sent for a prophet after a dusty and neglected Book of the Law was found during renovations in the temple in Jerusalem. This scripture, the word of God, was read to him for the first time in his life by the scribe of the High Priest. Josiah’s heart was cut to the quick as the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart through the word. He was deeply grieved by all the neglect of the Lord, the spiritual damage that had been done in Judah, and all the blessings and spiritual benefits that had been lost.
11 Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes. 2 Kings 22:11 NKJV
The impact of the word of the Lord mingled with the power of the Holy Spirit was a mighty force in Josiah’s life and still is in the spiritual lives of all believers. Centuries later, as Jesus was walking with some of His disciples on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection from the dead, the power of the word in their hearts was demonstrated.
27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
30 Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.
32 And they said to one another, “Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:27,30-32 NKJV
God’s Spirit can make the word burn in our hearts. He produced the same powerful effect on Josiah as the Scriptures were read to him by the High Priest’s scribe. Josiah was greatly impacted by this reading of the word, and it spurred him to seek out a prophet of the Lord to determine what next steps to take.
The Lord spoke through the prophet to send a severe message of warning to the nation, but also a message of comfort to King Josiah.
18 But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, in this manner you shall speak to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Concerning the words which you have heard— 19 because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord. 20 “Surely, therefore, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place.” ’ ” 2 Kings 22:18-20 NKJV
By God’s grace, Josiah’s eyes would not see the Lord’s judgement on Judah and their defeat and exile at the hands of the Babylonians. God had used every means possible to help Judah to avoid this outcome, including sending the prophet Isaiah and King Josiah to help them get back on track. But neither of these two faithful servants could stop the downward slide of the nation into a state of depraved idolatry and faithlessness. God would now judge the nation in hopes of saving them later.
Even after this warning, Josiah continued to seek to lead the nation back to God and away from the worship of worthless idols. There must have been several days where he felt discouragement or hopelessness in his quest.
On any given day, we, too, may feel down or just not up to the task of faithful living. It is especially in times like this that we need to continue our steady diet of reading God’s word and praying for His grace and strength. As with many who came before us, God will empower the word He places in our hearts and infuse us with the power of the Holy Spirit to lift us up onto a higher plane of grace, serenity, and peace. May we enjoy such rest and relief in the word of the Lord today.
What opportunities has God placed before me to help study and learn about His word? Has He placed a fellowship or Bible study group in my path? How do I move forward to grow in the Lord?
Lord, lead us into the Bible study, fellowship group, or ministry opportunity that You want us to be in to strengthen our faith or even to learn about Jesus for the first time. Nudge us forward along the path of spiritual growth that You have prepared. Grant me the courage to make the phone call or walk through the door You have opened to change my life. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.