Not Since Jehu’s slaughter of the house of Ahab have we seen the likes of what King Josiah did in Judah after hearing the Book of the Law read. Before hearing the Book of the Law read, Josiah had a notion of what was right, and after hearing it, he followed it with all of his heart.

Reading through 2 Kings 23 today, I was struck by two things. First, the narrative of what Josiah did reads much like what Jehu did to Ahab. It reads like a film montage. At least, that’s how I envision it. The second element that stood out was how far Judah had fallen in their service to the Lord.

I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to imagine all of the evil things done by the kings of Judah and Israel. We read so often that a king did evil in the eyes of the Lord that we can become desensitized to it. Much like watching violence on film can dull our reception of it.

Here’s everything Josiah did to cleanse Judah (I see this as a montage).

[Josiah] remove[d] from the temple of the Lord all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts… He did away with the idolatrous priests… He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the Lord to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it… He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the Lord… where women did weaving for Asherah… He desecrated Topheth… so no one could use it to sacrifice their son or daughter in the fire to Molek… He removed… the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun… He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had erected on the roof near the upper room of Ahaz… [he] desecrated the high places that were east of Jerusalem on the south of the Hill of Corruption [that Solomon built]… He burned the high place (Bethel)… and burned the Asherah pole also… [he] removed all the shrines at the high places that the kings of Israel had built in the towns of Samaria… [and] slaughtered all the priests of those high places (emphasis added)

2 Kings 23:4-15, 19-20 (NIV)

A montage serves a couple of purposes. They are designed to move the plot along by conveying a lot of information in a short period. When I see everything Josiah had to do to clean up the mess made by his predecessors, I’m shocked at the terrible things they did. It wasn’t enough to build high places and worship on them. They took their idolatry into the temple of the Lord, bringing into it things like male shrine prostitutes. The sacrifice of their children is particularly horrifying. While we might think this was done after Judah and Israel split, it wasn’t. It started with Solomon.

Unlike a film montage that goes on for a bit and then the regular film continues, Josiah’s destructive montage is interrupted by this poignant scene and continues after it.

Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things.

The king asked, “What is that tombstone I see?”

The people of the city said, “It marks the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and pronounced against the altar of Bethel the very things you have done to it.”

“Leave it alone,” he said. “Don’t let anyone disturb his bones.” So they spared his bones and those of the prophet who had come from Samaria.

2 Kings 16-18 (NIV)

Approximately 290 years earlier (1 Kings 13:2), a prophet of the Lord pronounced judgment on the altar at Bethel. In the judgment, Josiah was named as the person who would destroy it.

After reading about everything Josiah did and how he served the Lord, it was sad to read about his death. Even more when we consider his sons who, like many other kings, did evil in the eyes of the Lord. The best thing to remember is that evil comes and goes, but God’s will prevails.

Those are my thoughts today. I pray this day finds you well, and thank you for stopping by!