“[Josiah] 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….Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.” (2 Kings 22:2, 23:25)
God has blessed Erin and I with our fourth child and second son, Josiah Everett Jones! He arrived Thursday afternoon, weighing 8 pounds 11 ounces. God is gracious; not only is little Josiah healthy, but Erin was able to deliver him naturally without pain medications and is recovering nicely. More than that, we were allowed to go home after just 2 hours from the birth!
We chose the name “Josiah” for the biblical king who oversaw a great revival in Jerusalem. The story of this remarkable man can be found in 2 Kings 22 and 23, and in 2 Chronicles 33:25-35:27.
This Josiah was a fascinating figure, whose reign was foretold by name in 1 Kings 13:2 as the one who would desecrate the pagan altar of Jeroboam. In the eighteenth year of his reign, a long-lost copy of the Book of the Law was found in the Temple, a book that is believed to be the modern-day book of Deuteronomy, and upon its discovery Josiah led his people in national repentance, re-instituted the observance of the Passover and other feasts, and, alone among all the kings after David, destroyed the idols and high places that were competing with the true God for worship.
Josiah, despite being the grandson of Manasseh, a man so wicked that God passed a death sentence on the Jewish nation, and despite having had a father who walked in all the ways of Manasseh, was somehow brought to faith in God and obedience to his word. And so one of the lessons of Josiah’s life is that we are not doomed to be like our parents. In God, there is the hope that we can be delivered from the crimes of the past. That’s so reassuring to me as an imperfect and sinful parent, that even my mistakes cannot doom my children.
There’s a flip side to that coin, however. In our day and age, it’s common for people to point to their upbringing and to the circumstances of their childhood as an excuse for their own sins. Josiah’s life, and the lives of his father and grandfather, is a reminder that we won’t get away with that excuse before God. We will all be judged according to our own sins, not those of our parents.
Josiah’s life and reign was defined by the revival that took place under his watch. And that revival was sparked not by the discovery of the Book of the Law in itself, but by God’s granting Josiah repentance upon finding it. This revival was led by Josiah; his obedience and his zeal drove it forward. The fact that it did not persist beyond his death shows the crucial importance of Josiah’s own personal commitment to God in the life of his kingdom.
And so Josiah’s story contains a sobering warning. Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather, was so incredibly wicked–even sacrificing his own son to the god Molech–that God passed a judgment on Judah: it would be destroyed for its rebellion. Even the remarkable reign of Josiah would not enough to change it; it could only delay the inevitable. A lesson we can learn, then, is to repent and seek the Lord when we have the opportunity, and not to put it off. We do not know how long we have and when that opportunity may be suddenly snatched away, just as Judah did not know how long God would bless them and then so suddenly remove Josiah from the scene.
And finally, Josiah was a man whose life was defined by his submission to the Scriptures. Everything recorded about his revival in the Bible corresponds to stipulations in the Book of the Law of Moses. The Scriptures were no distant and irrelevant ancient text to him. They were, rather, his very life. So, too, the words of God in Scripture should drive and guide our own lives.
May God in his surpassing grace and mercy grant that little Josiah Everett will one day turn to the Lord Jesus Christ with all his heart and soul and might–never turning aside to the right or to the left. And may we pray that this be true of us all.