What does it say?
The main focus of these four chapters is the reign of Josiah, another of Judah’s good kings. Only eight-years-old when he came to the throne, Josiah quickly becomes a great reformer. Josiah initiates a much-needed remodel of the temple. In the process of the work, the high priest discovers the book of the law. The entrance of God’s words brings renewal and Josiah responds with humility. Though judgment upon Judah for sin is certain, God promises to postpone judgment to allow Josiah’s reign to be one of peace.
Josiah’s zeal for God’s truth fuels him to purge the entire land of idolatry and false religion. Just as the people have forgotten the law, they have grown lax in all areas. Josiah calls for a great Passover celebration and what results is a Passover like no one had ever imagined. Josiah’s life and reign end when Pharaoh Necho of Egypt advances due to a military alliance with Assyria. Josiah goes out to resist him and is mortally wounded by an arrow.
Jehoahaz follows his father as king but he walks in the ways of the bad kings. Pharaoh Necho captures and imprisons him, taking him to Egypt where he will die. He imposes a heavy tax on the land and installs Jehoahaz’s older brother Eiliakim as king. He also changes his name to Jehoiakim in an act that seals his sovereignty over the nation.
What does it mean?
God is ultimately Sovereign over the nations. We lament and complain about governments, but none lasts forever; the good ones become bad and the bad ones good. Proverbs 21:1 says that the king’s heart is in God’s hand and God turns it wherever he wants. The Bible student who grasps this truth begins to understand that God’s story is about his mission, not politics, parties, policies, campaigns, legislation, etc. The mission, not the nation, is the issue, and God will be glorified among all the peoples of the earth.
Humility and faith before God can modify God’s plan as we see in the case of Josiah and his zealous reforms. Nothing, however, can change God’s plan or prevent it.
How will I respond?
Do I allow myself to get too caught up in politics, culture, preferences, patriotism and other good things while put the best thing, God’s mission, in second place? What will I pray, what will I surrender, how can I display the same type of humility and submission to God’s word as Josiah did?