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. 2 Kings 22:19
The Reign of Josiah
Josiah is the last good king of Judah. He is crowned when he is only 8, and rules in Jerusalem for 31 years. The power of Assyria slips during Josiah’s rule of 3 decades. During the later years of his rule, Babylon suddenly surges to unexpected dominance. But Josiah’s 30 years are a time of peace.
Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. 2 And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Josiah’s time is also one of reform. Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh, had apparently destroyed all copies of the law of Moses that he could locate. Josiah experiences a personal conversion at age 16 (2 Chron. 34:3), and at 20 attempts to purge Judah of false worship. During refurbishing of the temple, a copy of the lost law is found.
Josiah’s early reforms: 2 Chronicles 34:1-13. Josiah begins by destroying pagan idols and worship centers. The burning of the bones of the dead on the altar defiles them so they can never be used again.
3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, 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 wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. 4 They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down; and the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images he broke in pieces, and made dust of them and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. 6 And so he did in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as Naphtali and all around, with axes. 7 When he had broken down the altars and the wooden images, had beaten the carved images into powder, and cut down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 34:3-7
Book of the law found: 2 Kings 22:3-20; 2 Chronicles 34:14-33. Lost copies of the Mosaic law are located when the Temple is repaired. The first reading reveals how far short of obedience Judah has fallen, and that God is committed by his word to punish Judah’s wickedness (see Deut. 28). Josiah sends to Huldah the prophetess, to inquire about what God will do. The response is encouraging. Judgment must come, but because Josiah has been responsive to God, the destruction will be delayed until after his death.
10 Then Shaphan the scribe showed the king, saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.
11 Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes. 12 Then the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam the son of Shaphan, Achbor the son of Michaiah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king, saying, 13 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
16 “Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants–all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read– 17 because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched.’ ”
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.” ‘ ” So they brought back word to the king.
Habakkuk Concerned about the evil that still characterizes Judah in spite of Josiah’s reforms, the prophet writes out to Israel’s holy God. God shows the prophet he will not tolerate evil. God is doing a striking thing: he is raising up the Chaldeans (Babylon). They will scourge his sinning people.
Nahum Nahum’s message is one of judgment on Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. The message means more than the doom of an old enemy. It is a warning to Judah, that her punishment too must surely come.