by Mike Ratliff
18 But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord thus shall you say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel, “Regarding 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 should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the Lord. 20 “Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place.”’” So they brought back word to the king. 2 Kings 22:18-20 (NASB)
Without a doubt, my favorite King in the Bible is Josiah. His father, Amon, was a bad king. His grandfather, Manasseh, was the worst king Judah ever had. However, his great-grandfather was Hezekiah. Hezekiah was a good king in that he remained faithful to the Lord throughout his reign. He took away the high places of idolatrous worship throughout his kingdom. He did away with Baal worship and idolatry where he found it. It has always amazed me how a good king like Hezekiah could have a total pagan for a son like Manasseh. That does not say much for Hezekiah’s parenting skills.
During Manasseh’s reign of 55 years, he reversed all the reforms his father had implemented. He sought every false god he could. He desecrated the temple with idols and false worship. He instituted child sacrifice to these false gods. The Bible says he filled the streets of Jerusalem with innocent blood. He even sacrificed his own sons to these idols. The Assyrians captured and imprisoned him. While there he repented and God allowed him to come home where he died.
His son Amon became king in his place. He was just as wicked. However, he reigned only two years. His servants assassinated him. Then Josiah his son became king. When I read this part of 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles it is like a breath of fresh air. While reading about that wicked father and son duo of Manasseh and Amon, I find myself getting discouraged and angry. Then Amon is killed and there is Josiah.
1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. 2 He did right in the sight of the Lord and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left. 2 Kings 22:1-2 (NASB)
Here is this boy king, only eight years old, who walked in the way of King David. He did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. How could a child like that be this breath of fresh air and totally opposite from his father and grandfather? We aren’t told, but someone raised this child to fear God. I suspect it was his mother. Her name is Jedidah. She was the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. This woman was married to King Amon. We have no proof of anything in this area, but with her and her father’s names mentioned like this it appears this family may have influenced Josiah more than his father’s.
Josiah was the last good king in the Davidic line. He reigned from 640-609 B.C. Even at an early age of 16, he began to seek God.
3 For in the eighth year of his reign while he was still a youth, 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 Asherim, the carved images and the molten images. 4 They tore down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars that were high above them he chopped down; also the Asherim, the carved images and the molten images he broke in pieces and ground to powder and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 Then he burned the bones of the priests on their altars and purged Judah and Jerusalem. 6 In the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon, even as far as Naphtali, in their surrounding ruins, 7 he also tore down the altars and beat the Asherim and the carved images into powder, and chopped down all the incense altars throughout the land of Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 34:3-7 (NASB)
Look at the progression. He was 8 years old when he became king. Eight years later, he begins to follow hard after God. Four years later, he is purging the land of uncleanness. Am I the only one who sees how this parallels the progression God takes us through as He cleans us up and draws us to grow in grace? God draws us to Him. Josiah began to seek God because God drew him to do so. It took four years for Him to start the cleansing of the land. He was still young. He would have been 20 years old by this time. What had he cleansed so far? Idolatry was removed. Don’t we have to start our restoration to God by going hard after Him? When we do that, doesn’t He take us through the idol destruction phase next? The problem is we think we’re done at this point. Well, we aren’t and neither is God.
After Josiah had cleansed the land, what did he do? He returned to Jerusalem. We don’t know how long this cleansing phase was. The next event we have in his life takes place six years later. It could have taken all six years to do away with the filth and purge society of the evil that had existed for decades. Perhaps many who didn’t want Josiah’s reforms had to die off. When Josiah was 26 years old in the eighteenth year of his reign, he called the priesthood to cleanse and repair the temple.
3 Now in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan, the son of Azaliah the son of Meshullam the scribe, to the house of the Lord saying, 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest that he may count the money brought in to the house of the Lord which the doorkeepers have gathered from the people. 5 Let them deliver it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the Lord, and let them give it to the workmen who are in the house of the Lord to repair the damages of the house, 6 to the carpenters and the builders and the masons and for buying timber and hewn stone to repair the house. 7 Only no accounting shall be made with them for the money delivered into their hands, for they deal faithfully.” 2 Kings 22:3-7 (NASB)
The apostasy of Manasseh and Amon had brought destruction and uncleanness to the temple. In our spiritual journey, do we have a parallel in our hearts? Yes! Those in Christ aren’t necessarily living for His glory, are they? If they aren’t, whose glory are they living for? They are living for their own glory. I know that statement may have stepped on a few toes, but it’s true. If we are not living for the glory of our savior, we are living for our own glory. What happens to our hearts when we do that? They harden don’t they? Our hearts become hard and we become full of unbelief. When this happens we are in dangerous territory. It is at this time that we can fall under all sorts of false teachings because of our spiritual blindness and lack of discernment. With that happening, all sorts of apostasy can creep in. We may not even be aware of it. However, when we do this we are simply bowing to and serving an idol in our hearts dedicated to our own glory. Pride rules the day and we are nothing more than Flesh-bound believers.
When we become Spirit-led, by the grace of God, it is the culmination of a renovation project in our hearts very similar to the one Josiah had set about doing to Judah. After the cleansing of the land, he goes after the temple. In the Christian life, the temple relates to our Hearts and our bodies. Our Spirits are already purged and cleansed at salvation. However, our Hearts are a mess and our bodies are vessels of lust. At salvation, the Holy Spirit starts the sanctification process of our Hearts right away. He will work full time to bring our Hearts into submission and denial. Our Hearts must become Spirit-led with our Spirit’s in predominance resulting in our bodies no longer existing as vessels of lust. Instead, God transforms them into temples of the Holy Spirit.
18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (NASB)
For our bodies to be truly the temple of the Holy Spirit where there is no defilement or uncleanness, then we must present them to our Lord as living sacrifices.
1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1 (NASB)
What this sacrifice does is dedicate ourselves to be holy, pure and clean before our Lord. Josiah wanted the temple in Jerusalem to be holy, pure and clean before the Lord. He had money collected and set the people to work to renovate it. We are to do the same thing with our hearts.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 (NASB)
For our bodies to be the holy and cleansed temple of the Holy Spirit, we must become separate from the world and matured by the renovation of our minds. This is the will of God. The change is the metamorphosis process that matures us unto Christ-likeness. What does it? The renewing of our minds is the catalyst. This means a total renovation by fasting from the things of this world as we feast on God. Josiah did the very same thing to the temple. He took out of it all the filth and worldly contamination and renovated it into a holy place that would glorify the Lord.
As Josiah’s workers rebuilt the temple, they found something wonderful. During the reigns of Manasseh and Amon, the Book of the Law had been lost. However, concurrent with the restoration of the temple, they find the Law.
14 When they were bringing out the money which had been brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the book of the law of the Lord given by Moses. 15 Hilkiah responded and said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan. 16 Then Shaphan brought the book to the king and reported further word to the king, saying, “Everything that was entrusted to your servants they are doing. 17 They have also emptied out the money which was found in the house of the Lord, and have delivered it into the hands of the supervisors and the workmen.” 18 Moreover, Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, “Hilkiah the priest gave me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king. 2 Chronicles 34:14-18 (NASB)
We are very fortunate to have Bibles within easy reach. However, that was not always the case. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have no access to the Word of God. I have well over a dozen Bibles in all forms. I have physical Bibles, online Bibles, and Bible software. I am very blessed. However, these Judeans did not even know the Book of the Law existed except in their traditions and legends. As you read the next passage, pay close attention to Josiah’s reaction when the scribe reads the Law of God in his presence.
11 When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes. 12 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Micaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me and the people and all Judah concerning the words of this book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the Lord that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” 2 Kings 22:11-13 (NASB)
Josiah’s reaction after hearing the truth from God should be a model for us. Oh, I’m not talking about tearing your clothes. However, that symbolized something we do need to take to heart. When ancient Jews tore their clothes, it was supposed to be sign of brokenness before the Lord. It symbolized a broken heart because of a perceived affront to the holiness of God. When Josiah tore His clothes when He heard the Law being read before Him by Shaphan, his heart really did break. He humbled himself before His Lord with a broken and penitent heart.
Josiah had a tender heart. His heart was not hard. It was not full of unbelief. He knew His Lord, listened to Him and responded in brokenness to His rebuke. We must do the same. Will God cast away those who respond this way?
6 But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 (NASB)
God will not cast away those who humble themselves before Him. He will stiff-arm those who do not. Josiah’s response was the outer manifestations of his inner tender heart. When God reveals Himself to us, we must respond in like manner. The Lord will do wonderful things in our hearts when we willingly become broken in His presence. He will make our tender hearts even more tender. He will smash and pulverize the hardness there as he reshapes our hearts according to His will. When He does this, we must respond by pursuing holiness and purity even more. We must seek a pure and clear conscience with God’s values fully apparent to our hearts.
The men Josiah sent to inquire of God found a prophetess named Huldah. She told them God’s truth.
14 So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter); and they spoke to her. 15 She said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 thus says the Lord, “Behold, I bring evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place, and it shall not be quenched.”’ 18 But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord thus shall you say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel, “Regarding 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 should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the Lord. 20 “Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place.”’” So they brought back word to the king. 2 Kings 22:14-20 (NASB)
God never changes. His response to Josiah was the truth. He said He was going to bring destruction on them, but He also showed mercy. Why was He going to bring destruction? They had broken the Mosaic Covenant. They had forsaken God. They had burned incense to other gods. This is false worship. This is idolatry. Do we do the same thing? I tried to watch some TV last night instead of working on these posts since I am ahead of schedule. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I do I am very selective of what I watch. However, I was amazed how every show and commercial was set up to appeal to our bent towards self-gratification. It would be so easy to give in to these fleshly pursuits. We must all admit that our flesh loves all forms of entertainment. Despite my frustration with the emptiness and shallowness there I discovered my heart attempting to turn toward that nonsense. My conscience warned me continually. I knew God was speaking to me as well.
When we pursue self-gratification, we are guilty of idolatry. We are allowing devotion to something to come between God and us. We are also worshipping our idolatry of the heart. Yes, we are just as guilty of the mass idolatry as the ancient Judeans. Our idols may not be the same as theirs; however, we do worship them. We are guilty. We must repent as Josiah did. We must turn our hearts to our Lord and in all humility seek His forgiveness and cleansing. He is calling for us to surrender for He is a very gracious and loving God.
When Josiah received God’s response to his prayer, he did a wonderful thing. His tender heart broke before His Lord and he responded in complete repentance.
1 Then the king sent, and they gathered to him all the elders of Judah and of Jerusalem. 2 The king went up to the house of the Lord and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and 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 was found in the house of the Lord. 3 The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant. 2 Kings 23:1-3 (NASB)
This should be our response to every act of grace God grants us. When He takes us through repentance, we should respond in complete covenant renewal. When God uses us in an edifying way that glorifies Him, we should renew the covenant. We should be seriously pursing full-alignment with the blood covenant we have partaken of with our Lord Jesus Christ. Those in Christ have signed on to a blood covenant that Jesus’ death instituted. We partake of this covenant when we die to self and live for His glory. This Spirit-led walk is all about this. It isn’t about doing church. It isn’t about being religious. It’s about being exactly what God wants us to be in every area of our lives. Of course, He gives us the grace to do it all.
Don’t think for a minute Josiah did all of this by his own strength and ability. God was filling him with grace the whole time. We are obedient by His grace and for His glory. The following passage is quite long. Read it carefully and joyously. As you see each act of Josiah to cleanse the temple and the land think of each act of obedience on your part God has taken you through as you have grown in Grace. This passage could easily be titled, Josiah restores true worship. In essence, all of the tenderizing God does in our hearts does this very thing in us. We must become the cleansed and pure tenderhearted believers God wants us to be as we worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
4 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second order and the doorkeepers, to bring out of the temple of the Lord all the vessels that were made for Baal, for Asherah, and for all the host of heaven; and he burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron, and carried their ashes to Bethel. 5 He did away with the idolatrous priests whom the kings of Judah had appointed to burn incense in the high places in the cities of Judah and in the surrounding area of Jerusalem, also those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and to the moon and to the constellations and to all the host of heaven. 6 He brought out the Asherah from the house of the Lord outside Jerusalem to the brook Kidron, and burned it at the brook Kidron, and ground it to dust, and threw its dust on the graves of the common people. 7 He also broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes which were in the house of the Lord, where the women were weaving hangings for the Asherah. 8 Then 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; and he broke down the high places of the gates which were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on one’s left at the city gate. 9 Nevertheless the priests of the high places did not go up to the altar of the Lord in Jerusalem, but they ate unleavened bread among their brothers. 10 He also 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 for Molech. 11 He did away with the horses which the kings of Judah had given to the sun, at the entrance of the house of the Lord, by the chamber of Nathan-melech the official, which was in the precincts; and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. 12 The altars which 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 he smashed them there and threw their dust into the brook Kidron. 13 The high places which were before Jerusalem, which were on the right of the mount of destruction which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the sons of Ammon, the king defiled. 14 He broke in pieces the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherim and filled their places with human bones.
15 Furthermore, the altar that was at Bethel and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he broke down. Then he demolished its stones, ground them to dust, and burned the Asherah. 16 Now when Josiah turned, he saw the graves that were there on the mountain, and he sent and took the bones from the graves 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 things. 17 Then he said, “What is this monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the grave of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel.” 18 He said, “Let him alone; let no one disturb his bones.” So they left his bones undisturbed with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria. 19 Josiah also removed all the houses of the high places which were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made provoking the Lord; and he did to them just as he had done in Bethel. 20 All the priests of the high places who were there he slaughtered on the altars and burned human bones on them; then he returned to Jerusalem.
21 Then the king commanded all the people saying, “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God as it is written in this book of the covenant.” 22 Surely such a Passover had not been celebrated from the days of the judges who judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel and of the kings of Judah. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was observed to the Lord in Jerusalem.
24 Moreover, Josiah removed the mediums and the spiritists and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the Lord. 25 Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him. 2 Kings 23:4-25 (NASB)
Amen, Amen, Amen he cleansed the temple and the land. When God tenderizes our hearts, He does this very thing there. He removes all the false worship and directs us to worship Him correctly. We must mortify all of the fleshly things in our hearts. We must not show mercy to any of it.
The tender heart is the heart that hears God and breaks. It responds in broken, yet bold obedience. In return, God grants repentance. This heart is growing in Christ. It is growing in grace. It is becoming Christ-like. False worship is recognized and put to death. This heart is directed towards God continuously. This heart prays continually and walks before the Lord blameless and completely for His glory. Idolatry of the heart is being torn down and its priests are running for their lives.
How do we get this tender heart? We must surrender to our Lord. We must submit completely to His Lordship. We must die to self and live for His glory. When we do this, He will reshape our heart as we fall before Him in complete brokenness. The maturing Christian is tenderhearted and this tenderness grows over time. Why is the tender heart so important? This heart hears God and responds in obedience.
Soli Deo Gloria!