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Reading the Bible changes your life. Have you learned that as we’ve been reading through? King Josiah experienced that change firsthand.
The First & Greatest
There is a command in Scripture that is the foundation of the Christian walk:
You shall love theLord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. (Deut. 6:5)
Jesus Himself declared this to be the first and greatest commandment (Matt 23:38).
That is what makes 2 Kings 23:25 stand out. Look what God inspired the author of 2 Kings to write about King Josiah:
Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since. (NLT)
Wow. Josiah was a one-of-a-kind king. Josiah took the throne when he was but an eight-year-old boy (2 Kings 22:1) and ruled until he was 39. “He 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.” (2 Kings 22:2, NLT, emphasis mine)
I know I want this to be said of me. Don’t you?
Related: A Study of the Covenants
He read the Law and let it change him.
When the Law was uncovered (yes, Israel had so left God that it was left neglected!), Josiah tore his clothes, wept, and repented (2 Kings 22:11,19). He could not read about God, of what God had done and promised, and remain the same.
Josiah learned and experienced what we need to: reading the Bible changes your life.
Even though Josiah received the promise that the destruction of Israel would not come in his lifetime (God honored his repentant heart), he wanted to preserve his nation so he set out to share with them what he had learned.
If reading the Bible changed his life, he was hoping it would also change the hearts and lives of those in his nation.
Lord, let this stir our hearts and prompt us to respond the same way when we read Your words. Let us be so changed by them that our sin brings us to a place of sorrow and repentance, and let Your promises so burst from our hearts that we must tell everyone around us of Your great love.
He read the Law in its entirety and shared it publicly.
Josiah didn’t keep it to Himself. He knew the nation of Israel had to hear what had been missing. He gathered all the people, from least to greatest, together. All of the elders, priests, and prophets were there in addition, brought in from Jerusalem as well as Judah.
Because he understood that reading the Law/Bible changes your life, he didn’t want anyone to miss out. The Word of the Lord was not for a select few.
He stood in the Temple and read to them the entire book of the Covenant. When the entire Word of God is consumed, it has the power to change a rebellious nation. Josiah understood this and acted upon it.
What would happen if we were to read the Bible in its entirety, if we were to grasp more fully the beauty and the strength of our God’s salvation? If we, like Josiah, were brought to the repentance that leads to change?
He acted on the words of the Covenant.
It wasn’t enough that Josiah read what the Law of the Covenant said. And it wasn’t even enough that he recognized and mourned his sin and the sins of his nation.
When the Word of God takes root in our heart, action is the only appropriate response. Reading the Bible changes your life.
So what did Josiah do?
He removed all idols from the house of God.
Josiah removed everything that compromised or defiled worshipping God in spirit and in truth. The nation he ruled over had become so perverted that there were temples filled with idols, shrines, prostitutes and sorts of twisted worship.
Josiah wiped it clean. He didn’t re-purpose, re-locate, or salvage anything.
He removed all sinful people from a place of authority in the house of God.
The priests who had offered sacrifices to idols were no longer to serve in God’s house. He understood the importance of godly authority and how the leaders affect everyone below them.
He tore down altars/shrines to false gods.
Anything that pointed anyone away from God was decimated. In the Temple and outside of it. Josiah understood that it wasn’t just the house of God that required worship; rather our entire life is part of our service to God.
The Temple had to be cleaned out, but so did everywhere else.
He destroyed the things that made God angry.
In Samaria, there had been built shrines, as in other places. Josiah even executed the priests who served there. It is recorded that these shrines had angered God and Josiah set that to rights.
He honored the Passover.
This had not been done since the days of Judges, and yet in Exodus God had declared this to be an eternal command. Josiah read that and honored the commands of God and remembered the Passover.
He held nothing back.
If we were to summarize the changes in Josiah’s life when he read the Book of the Covenant, we could say that he held nothing back. Temples, shrines, buildings, altars, mediums, psychics, household items, and “every other kind of detestable practice” was removed not only from his home, but his city and his nation. “He did this in obedience to the laws written” (2 Kings 23:24, NLT).
That is why King Josiah is known as the man to turned to God with all his heart, soul, and strength. That is why he is great in the history of Israel.
Reading the Bible changes your life…if you let it!
This challenged me greatly, and I want to ask you the same questions that have been whirling around in my heart. What are we holding back, sweet friend? Is there anything in our lives we need to lay waste to? Anything we need to remove from our homes?
Reading the Bible changes your life, but only if you allow the Holy Spirit to turn your heart. When that happens, action follows. What changes are you making as you read His Word?