“Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem…And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” – 2 Kings 22:1a-2
In 2 Kings 22 we see Israel having turned its back on God once again. They had instituted the worship of many of the gods from the surrounding nations and had engaged in their unholy rituals such as cult prostitution (23:7), idol worship (23:4-6), and even child sacrifice (23:10)! All the while, the house of the Lord was functioning, but with no sense of power or obedience to what God had commanded.
A few years after his reign began; Josiah sent an order to clear out the coffers in the house of the Lord for repairs. While the order was being carried out, the high priest came upon the book of the Law and read it to the king. Here we see the response, “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes…For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”(2 Kings 22:11, 13b)
Josiah immediately recognized that Israel was not obeying the Word of the Lord and he responded with zeal and without hesitation. He destroyed all of the places where Israel’s worship had blended with the pagan’s. He reinstituted the Passover and proper worship according to the law. This was a revival in the truest sense. The nation of Israel was revived from a dead, polluted faith to one that was vibrant and true…all because of the Word of God.[az_dropcap mode=”dropcap-color”]Great revivals are often marked by a renewed hunger for and obedience to the Word.[/az_dropcap]
Examples of this can be seen in the Great Awakening and the revivals of 19th Century Europe where men began lunch time Bible studies because they couldn’t get enough of God’s Word. There were packed houses where the Word was preached and dinner conversations were often focused on theology and the knowledge of God. The Word was the centerpiece that consumed the thoughts and affections of those impacted by the revivals. In every case, the Word was read, taught, believed, and acted upon. The Word of God must have an impact on the way we live and even the way we think. We can’t afford to mix it with worldliness and the idols of our culture if we expect to be a church that glorifies God in the fullest way possible.
In scripture, we see that followers of Jesus are called to a very high standard. We are to live in the world as a light on a hill and the salt of the earth. (Matt 5:13-16) We are to live within the culture but never be conformed to it. (Rom 12:2) We are to be a holy nation, (2 Pet 2:9) set apart for good works through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Eph 2:10) Yet all too often we have allowed our faith to be diluted and mixed with things not of God. We have allowed the entertainment and distractions of the world around us keep us from a deep commitment to the Word. As a general rule, American Christianity doesn’t look all that different from Israel leading up to Josiah’s reign. We desperately need revival.
In a world that vies for our attention and affection at every turn, the true believer must have a hunger for the Word of God. This is where God has revealed himself and his plan to his people and it is vital for the health and forward movement of the church. We must read it, listen to it, believe it, and obey it. This will both lead to, and result from, a revival of the church to what God intended us to be, and how he desires for us to live. As we embrace the Word, may we tear down our idols and return to a desire to love and obey our Lord more with each passing moment.