In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the Lord. He said: “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the Lord—
2 Kings 22.3-5
Josiah has been on the throne of Judah for ten years and we are not told what he did in those years, although it is reasonable to assume that he had been learning what the huge responsibility placed upon him actually involved. We may also assume that he was in the hands of wise and godly men, for it is recorded in v.2 that he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, in spite of the fact that both his father Amon and his grandfather Manasseh did exactly the opposite.
Now with that period of ten years behind him he acts and his first concern is the repair of the temple of the LORD.
It was only a building but it was the great symbol of the presence of the Lord among his people and during the 57 years of the reigns of Manasseh and Amon it had fallen into disrepair. Why had this happened?
The answer is in 2 Kings 21. Manasseh, his grandfather also came to the throne at a young age but it is tragically recorded that ‘he did what was evil in the eyes of the LORD’ which included building altars ‘for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. And he burned his son as an offering….’v.5-6
The result of this was that God was effectively driven out of the Temple which he had chosen as the place where he would put his name for ever. V.7
So Josiah, boldly and fearlessly sought to redeem this situation and put God’s name, God himself, back at the centre of Judah’s national life.
Pause and think about that this morning. A youth, just 18 years of age, but brought up in the knowledge and fear of the LORD was used by God to turn a nation round. Sadly, we know that the reformation, the means of which we will consider in the rest of the week, did not last, but it produced a time of blessing for the people and the land.
Is this not what our country so desperately needs today?
To have God at the centre of national life is surely a blessing for any people.