Reflections on Josiah's Life and Legacy

by Adam McClendon September 14, 2018

Josiah is one of my favorite kings mentioned in the Bible (2 Kings 22-23). Josiah began his ruling at the age of 8 and eventually went on to initiate one of the greatest reform movements in Israel’s history. The catalyst for this reform was none other than the power of the Word of God. The kings and the nation had strayed from God’s plan and lived in violation of his covenant faithfulness. They abandoned God. 

Yet, even in the midst of this dark time, God’s Word was there, and when Hilkiah, the High Priest, brought the lost Law of God to Josiah, his response was remarkable. He was broken and cried out in repentance (2 Kings 22:11)! He then called the nation to repent and return to the Lord.

While this story is so powerful, it also has a sad ending. Josiah dies in battle and leaves the throne to godless sons (Jer 22:11, 18). One son is foolish and self-absorbed and ends up imprisoned in Egypt (2 Kings 22:31-33; Jer 22:11-17). Another son is nothing more than an evil puppet for Pharaoh (2 Kings 23:36-24:6). On top of all of this, the spiritual leaders left in the wake of Josiah’s death were self-serving and evil (Jer 23:1-2).

As I think about the faithfulness of Josiah and the faithlessness of those who followed after him, I am confronted with these thoughts:

* Do I examine my life in light of the truth of God’s Word or by cultural standards?

* Is my heart still sensitive to the Word of God like Josiah’s? Does my sin, no matter how small I may think it is, still disgust and break me and bring me to repentance?

* How am I helping raise up faithful leaders who will serve as soldiers for the glory of Christ alongside me and, prayerfully, one day replace me (2 Tim 2:1-3)?

* Do I acknowledge the shepherding work of God and see it as my privilege to serve as an undershepherd, under his authority, building his people?

* Am I pouring Christ into those over whom God has given me the privilege of serving? 

* Do I use my position for personal gain (even if only to boost my ego), or am I dying to self so that Christ may live through me to build his church? Do I understand that my life exists solely to be used as a stepping stone for other people to draw closer to Christ?

As I think of Josiah, I am challenged by his humility and sensitivity to God’s Word. I’m also saddened by the lack of spiritual legacy left behind.

May God bless our efforts to continue to serve as conduits through whom he can work, so that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ might be proclaimed to all.

2 Corinthians 4:4-6: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”