2 Chronicles 34 (NLT)
Josiah Rules in Judah
Josiah was eight years old when he became king,
So young a king because his father had been assassinated.
and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. 2He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right.
3 During the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, Josiah began to seek the God of his ancestor David. Then in the twelfth year he began to purify Judah and Jerusalem, destroying all the pagan shrines, the Asherah poles, and the carved idols and cast images. 4 He ordered that the altars of Baal be demolished and that the incense altars which stood above them be broken down. He also made sure that the Asherah poles, the carved idols, and the cast images were smashed and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He burned the bones of the pagan priests on their own altars, and so he purified Judah and Jerusalem.
The variety of idols described: This shows how deep idolatry was in Judah. There were idols dedicated to Baal and to Asherah (2 Kings 23:4) and to all the host of heaven (2 Kings 23:5) in the very temple itself (2 Kings 23:4). From the 2 Kings account, it seems that Josiah began the cleansing reforms at the center and worked outwards.
6 He did the same thing in the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, even as far as Naphtali, and in the regions all around them. 7 He destroyed the pagan altars and the Asherah poles, and he crushed the idols into dust. He cut down all the incense altars throughout the land of Israel. Finally, he returned to Jerusalem.
By now, the northern kingdom of Israel had fallen to the Assyrians. Josiah was able to extend his reforms to those Israelites who were still remaining.
8 In the eighteenth year of his reign, after he had purified the land and the Temple, Josiah appointed Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of Jerusalem, and Joah son of Joahaz, the royal historian, to repair the Temple of the Lord his God. 9 They gave Hilkiah the high priest the money that had been collected by the Levites who served as gatekeepers at the Temple of God.
Josiah directs the workers to rebuild the Temple.
Josiah understood that the work of repair and rebuilding the temple needed organization and funding. He paid attention to both of these needs when he gave Hilkiah oversight over this restoration work of the temple. As a result, the work was done in an organized and faithful manner.
According to Jeremiah 1:1-2, the prophet Jeremiah was the son of this particular priest Hilkiah.
The gifts were brought by people from Manasseh, Ephraim, and from all the remnant of Israel, as well as from all Judah, Benjamin, and the people of Jerusalem.
10 He entrusted the money to the men assigned to supervise the restoration of the Lord’s Temple. Then they paid the workers who did the repairs and renovation of the Temple. 11 They hired carpenters and builders, who purchased finished stone for the walls and timber for the rafters and beams. They restored what earlier kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin.
12 The workers served faithfully under the leadership of Jahath and Obadiah, Levites of the Merarite clan, and Zechariah and Meshullam, Levites of the Kohathite clan. Other Levites, all of whom were skilled musicians, 13 were put in charge of the laborers of the various trades. Still others assisted as secretaries, officials, and gatekeepers.
Hilkiah Discovers God’s Law
14 While they were bringing out the money collected at the Lord’s Temple, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that was written by Moses. 15Hilkiah said to Shaphan the court secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the Lord’s Temple!” Then Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan.
Traditionally this scroll has been thought to be (part of) the book of Deuteronomy. Huldah’s upcoming reference to all the curses could correspond to Deut. 27:15ff. Josiah’s celebration of the Passover could arise from Deut. 16.
16 Shaphan took the scroll to the king and reported, “Your officials are doing everything they were assigned to do. 17 The money that was collected at the Temple of the Lord has been turned over to the supervisors and workmen.” 18 Shaphan also told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” So Shaphan read it to the king.
19 When the king heard what was written in the Law, he tore his clothes in despair. 20 Then he gave these orders to Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: 21 “Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for all the remnant of Israel and Judah. Inquire about the words written in the scroll that has been found. For the Lord’s great anger has been poured out on us because our ancestors have not obeyed the word of the Lord. We have not been doing everything this scroll says we must do.”
When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.
22 So Hilkiah and the other men went to the New Quarter of Jerusalem to consult with the prophet Huldah. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, the keeper of the Temple wardrobe.
We know little of this woman other than this mention here (and the similar account recorded in 2 Kings 22:14). With the apparent approval of King Josiah, Hilkiah the priest consulted this woman for spiritual guidance. It wasn’t only because of her own wisdom and spirituality; she was recognized as a prophetess and could reveal the heart and mind of God. Certain Jewish traditions indicate that a woman was chosen to speak this prophecy since she would deliver the message with compassion.
The picture of Huldah above is actually a quilt by Julie Duschack.
23 She said to them, “The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken! Go back and tell the man who sent you, 24 ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people. All the curses written in the scroll that was read to the king of Judah will come true. 25 For my people have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done. My anger will be poured out on this place, and it will not be quenched.’
26 “But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the Lord and tell him: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: 27 You were sorry and humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this city and its people. You humbled yourself and tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. 28 So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You yourself will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city and its people.’”
So they took her message back to the king.
The tenor of Huldah’s words is that a judgment will fall on Judah because of her chronic sinfulness. Because of Josiah’s eager submission to God, however, it will not come during his reign. Josiah’s response to this word is to gather Judah for a great act of covenant renewal, determined that the people be worthy of the mercy received.
–J. G. McConville
Josiah’s Religious Reforms
29 Then the king summoned all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 And the king went up to the Temple of the Lord with all the people of Judah and Jerusalem, along with the priests and the Levites—all the people from the greatest to the least. There the king read to them the entire Book of the Covenant that had been found in the Lord’s Temple.
How wonderful! The king did this himself! — and especially since he knew that the revival he was leading would be ineffectual in the long run. Even so, he wanted to do what he could with the time he had.
31 The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws, and decrees with all his heart and soul. He promised to obey all the terms of the covenant that were written in the scroll. 32And he required everyone in Jerusalem and the people of Benjamin to make a similar pledge. The people of Jerusalem did so, renewing their covenant with God, the God of their ancestors.
33 So Josiah removed all detestable idols from the entire land of Israel and required everyone to worship the Lord their God. And throughout the rest of his lifetime, they did not turn away from the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
The power of the Word of God! Reading it, speaking it, singing it — I am not a big country music fan, but I lived for several years in the Georgia hometown (Newnan) of country music star Alan Jackson. HERE he is singing gospel — “Standing on the Promises of God.” I remember singing this song in a small Lutheran church in Iowa when I was the age of little King Josiah.
Standing on the promises of Christ, my King
Thru eternal ages, let His praises ring
“Glory in the highest,” I will shout and sing
Standing on the promises of God
Standing, standing – Standing on the promises of God, my Savior
Standing, standing – I’m standing on the promises of God
Standing on the promises that cannot fail
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail
By the Living Word of God, I shall prevail
Standing on the promises of God
Standing on the promises of Christ, the LORD
Bound to Him eternally by Love’s strong cord
Overcoming daily with the Spirit’s sword
Standing on the promises of God
Standing on the promises, I cannot fall
Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call
Resting in my Savior as my “All in All”
Standing on the promises of God
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
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