2 Chron 34:3 Josiah was 8 years old when he began to reign… During the 8th year of Josaih’s reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his ancestor David. Then in the 12th year he began to purify Judah and Jerusalem, destroying all the pagan shrines, the Asherah poles, and the carved idols and cast images.
2 Chron 34:7-8 He destroyed the pagan altars and the Asherah poles, and he crushed the idols into dust. He cut down all the incense altars throughout the land of Israel. Finally he returned to Jerusalem.
In the 18th year of his reign, after he had purified the land and the Temple, Josiah appointed… men to repair the Temple
2 Kings 22:8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the court secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the Lord’s Temple!”
2 Chron 34:27-28 Because you were sorry and humbled yourself before God when you heart his words against this city and its people…. I have heard you. So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died. You yourself will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city and its people.
2 Chron 34:31-33 The king took his place of authority beside the pillar and renewed the covenant in the Lord’s presence. He pledged to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands, laws and decrees with all his heart and soul. He promised to obey all the terms of the covenant that were in the scroll. And he required everyone in Jerusalem and the people of Benjamin to make a similar pledge. The people did so. And throughout the rest of his lifetime, they did not turn away from the Lord, the God of their ancestors
The people of Israel under the reigns of Manasseh and Amon had not only walked away from God and pursued their idols, they went so far as to destroy all the copies of The Book of the Law, except for the one Josiah’s men found (2 Kings 22:8).
As I read all that Josiah had to clean out of Israel, it’s appalling (2 Chron 34:3, 7-8).
- He destroyed all the pagan shrines / altars
- He destroyed the Asherah poles
- He crushed the carved idols and cast images into dust.
- He cut down all the incense altars throughout the land of Israel.
There was so much idolatry and pagan worship it took him 6 years to weed it all out and remove it!
That’s a lot of idolatry. God’s people had replaced the true God with idols made of wood and stone. We read this and we think, “How could God’s people do that?” But, the truth is we do it too! Sure we don’t have wooden or cast images, but we have plenty of things that take the place of God in our hearts. In chapter 1 of his book “Gospel Treason” Brad Bigney describes an idol as “Anything or anyone that captures our hearts, minds, and affections more than God.” In chapter 4 of his book Instruments in the Redeemers hand Paul David Tripp says this about our worship of idols:
“Every human being is a worshiper, in active pursuit of the thing that rules his heart. This worship shapes everything we do and say, who we are, and how we live.” Paul Tripp goes on to say, “Christ also talked about what rules the heart using the metaphor of treasure, as we see in Matthew 6:19–24. He identifies three principles this passage highlights:
- Everyone seeks some kind of treasure. (This is Christ’s operating assumption.)
- Your treasure will control your heart. (“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”)
- What controls your heart will control your behavior. (“No one can serve two masters.”)
Josiah’s response was quite drastic. He destroyed ALL the shrines, ALL the Asherah poles, ALL the carved and cast images! Then he made a commitment himself to obey the Lord by keeping all his commands. He then required the people to do the same! (2 Chron 34:31-33)
Dealing with idolatry in our hearts takes drastic measures. Both to identify and remove the idols, but then also a commitment to pursue God rather than our idols.
God, show us the idols that are lurking in our hearts.
God may God’s Word not be something that we happen to discover when we are cleaning house. May it be something that we are reading and meditating on everyday. May we take it to heart with the same commitment that Josiah did!
God, as we choose to follow you, may we be influencers that encourage others to do the same. When others witness our lives may they see a heart pursuing God, rather than our idols.