Beginning Again

KEY VERSE: “The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD—to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.” —II Kings 23:3, New International Version

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: II Kings 22:1 – 23:20

THE NORTHERN KINGDOM of Israel had been carried away to Assyria because of their idolatry. Judah had witnessed a remarkable reformation and deliverance when Hezekiah was on the throne. But even in Hezekiah’s time God prophesied that Judah would be carried away captive by Babylon.—II Kings 20:14-18

Little wonder that this should be prophesied. No sooner had Hezekiah “slept with his fathers” (vs. 21) and his son, Manasseh, begun his reign, than he caused Judah to revert to the idolatry of the wicked kings of the past. Manasseh’s son, Amon, perpetuated this evil rule, and was assassinated by conspirators after a two-year reign. The people of Israel prevented further action by the conspirators, slaying them, and placing Josiah on the throne.

Josiah, as a young king, inherited the character-likeness of his great-grandfather, Hezekiah. We are told “he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left.”—II Kings 22:2

Josiah wanted to repair the Temple and knew that money had been donated by the people, but no action had been taken. He sent instructions for doing this work to the priests. In his search for the donated money, Hilkiah, the High Priest, revealed that he had found the Book of the Law in the House of the Lord. This was brought to Josiah and read to him by the scribe, Shaphan. Josiah’s reaction was very emotional—tearing his clothes as a sign of repentance and mourning—for he knew that the people were not following the commandments as written on the scroll.

He asked Hilkiah, Shaphan, and others given to the service of the Lord, to inquire of God on behalf of the people. The Prophetess Huldah reiterated the prophecy Isaiah had pronounced before—that Judah would be taken captive because of their idolatry. (Is. 39:6,7; II Kings 22:16,17) Josiah’s reaction to Huldah’s prophecy was immediate. In the words of our Key Verse, he assembled the priests and the people to rededicate them to follow God’s commandments. After reading the Book of the Law to the people, Josiah instructed the priests to cleanse the Temple of all defiling vessels of Baal. He tore down all the places of worship to Baal and other gods. These were destroyed by fire, and the priests of these idolatrous practices were slain. This, again, was another new beginning of worship of the true God of Israel by the people, when Josiah followed in the steps of his great-grandfather Hezekiah, and cleansed Judah.

Reading of Josiah’s efforts to cleanse the land, and of Hezekiah’s work of reformation, we are appalled at the extent of idolatry in Judah. We note how quickly the people of Judah—who had known the true God—reverted to the idolatrous practices of their neighbors. The Lord’s people, who have the privilege of knowing the true God, also must pay heed to his Word, and take great care to avoid the idolatry that surrounds them.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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