Long ago there lived and good and just king named Josiah. He was the king of Judah during the last years of its time as an independent kingdom. Josiah was a good king but his father before him had been a bad king. During the reign of his father, Amon, the Jewish people were worshiping the idols of foreign gods and did all the evil things that his father did. His father King Manasseh was even more evil. He worshiped idols, shed innocent blood, consulted mediums and wizards, burned his children as sacrifices and set up idols on the very altar of the temple.
Josiah became king at the age of 8 and the Book of II Kings compares him to King David. It says “Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.” (II Kings 23:25) When he was 18 he sent workers into the temple to renovate and to purge the house of God of all the foreign gods and evil practices. While they were fixing up the temple they uncovered the Law of Moses. It had not been read in years. When the law was read to the king he realized that God’s people were in serious trouble with God because of their years of idol worship. He tore his clothes and called for a national time of repentance and restoration.
He directed that all the people should come to the temple and hear the reading of the book of the covenant, he destroyed all the idols, he deposed the idolatrous priests, he broke down the houses of the male temple prostitutes. He even burned the bones of the people who had been idol-worshipers as a way of defiling the pagan altars.
He reinstituted the Passover celebration as well. Apparently the Jews had not been celebrating the Passover for a very long time. This was a feast that commemorated the exodus of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. It was the Passover that Jesus celebrated with his disciples the night before he was crucified.
Sometimes I think our churches are acting like the Jews before Josiah came along. For the most part we don’t take Holy Week services very seriously. We’ve forgotten who we are. Attendance at our Holy Thursday services are usually small and some churches don’t even have Good Friday services at all. This is a holy remembrance of the most important acts of Christ’s life and most of our church members stay home! This should not be. We go to Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday but skip the journey to the cross. Our churches should be just as full on Holy Thursday and Good Friday as they are on Easter.
I encourage you to be like Josiah. Put God first in your life. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength. Make the holy services a priority in your life. Put away the idols, the competing activities, and live for God only.