Josiah's Reform

The occasion of Josiah’s religious reform was the repairing the temple of the LORD(2 Kgs 22:5). The dramatic discovery of the Book of the Law (Heb. sefer hatorah) resulted in a religious reformation throughout the country. The reform began with the repairing of the Temple of the LORD. It helped that he seems to have had an honest group of repairmen.

Jeremiah’s writing does not mention Josiah’s reform, which happened after he had been in ministry for five years already. Instead it only mentions that it was during the time of Josiah’s reign when the word of Yahweh came to him. However, 2 Chronicles 35:25 records Jeremiah’s lamentation on the death of Josiah (see historical background above). Why did Jeremiah not mention Josiah’s reform in the 52 chapters of his book? Is it possible that Josiah’s reform would only benefit him personally and not the whole nation of Judah? It is something to think about.

Consider that when Huldah, the prophetess interpreted the words from the Book of the Law, she mentioned the benefit of Josiah’s humility to himself, but not to the whole kingdom of Judah. Huldah declares, “‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants—all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read . . . But as for the king of Judah. . . you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place” (2 Kgs 22:16, 18, 20).[1]The “peace” mentioned does not seem to reflect the violent nature of his death and thus may be a reference to his relationship with God.

Or, is it possible that Jeremiah did not bother to write about Josiah’s reform because it had no effect on the succeeding generation? Josiah’s reform was not carried on by his successor. The succeeding kings did not perpetuate his sweeping reform. Because of this, could his reform be considered a failure? Does it suggest that any kind of reform is not just a one-time event? Apparently, we need an ongoing and continual reformation, not just annually, monthly, but daily reformation.

To perpetuate the kind of reform God had wanted for his people, Jeremiah’s messages of reformation were put into writing. Baruch who was his companion and friend, put into the messages of reform in a written form. Now, we are benefitting from Jeremiah’s writings of reform. Indeed, the ink is powerful than the sword.

The importance of the written material as an impetus of reform cannot be denied. Josiah’s rediscovery of written material mirrors the written material of Jeremiah’s message. Hearing the written sefer hatorah, King Josiah was moved by it, tore his clothes as a symbol of humility, and initiated the needed religious reform (2 Kgs 22:11). He recognized as a leader that “our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us” (2 Kgs 22:13). Josiah’s response after hearing the reading of the book of the Law is in contrast to his successor, Jehoiakim. According to Jeremiah 36:23, 24, Jehoiakim tore (qara) the document but not his clothes, while Josiah tore (qara) his clothes upon the reading of the scroll.

Then Josiah asked religious leaders, government officials, and his assistant to inquire of the LORD(2 Kgs 22:13). The literal rendering in Hebrew goes like this: “Seek the LORDon behalf of me . .” (2 Kgs 22:13). Religious leaders and government officials consulted a prophetess named Huldah (2 Kgs 22:14) in regard to the interpretation of the words of the Book. Prophetic guidance is essential in the religious reform. Josiah did not come personally to the lady prophet to know the interpretation of the words of the Book he heard. He also stated that “great is the wrath of the LORDthat is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us”(2 Kgs 22:13). Josiah included himself as one of the recipients of the wrath of God but had no part in disobedience of his forefathers.

The initiation, planning, and implementation of reform were a team effort. He had his own inner circle of advisers. There are five of them: Hilkiah the high priest, Shaphan the scribe, Ahikam, Acbor, and Asaiah. King Josiah needed a team to accomplish his religious reform. It was the result of partnership and cooperation with different people, such as the priest, the scribe (the equivalent of our biblical scholars), the elders (the different leaders of the family), and the whole nation of Judah. Josiah needed the cooperation of all the levels of society. But most importantly, it is the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the people. So, let us allow the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of each person. Let us not go ahead of the Holy Spirit. Let us not make ourselves as the Holy Spirit. Let us not take the role of the Holy Spirit to ourselves. Let us not use the Holy Spirit to our own ends and purposes, even though how sincere we are in our motives.

Josiah as a king had to head the religious reform. Reformation initiated and started at the top level of the society. As a king, he was responsible of promoting religious reform. He was the one who lead out in reading the Book of the Law in front of the people (2 Kgs 23:2). He himself made a covenant first with the LORDand then the people followed (2 Kgs 23:3). On this part of the narrative there is a shift of naming the book. The book of the Law (sefer hatorah, 2 Kgs 22:8, 11) is now called the book of the Covenant (sefer haberit, 2 Kgs 23:3). Interestingly, he started the covenant with the people while the idols, statues, and other pagan things are still in place and were still inside the temple.

Josiah’s reform was accompanied by the celebration of the Passover. According to the text, “There had been no Passover kept in Israel like that since the days of Samuel the prophet; and none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept, with the priests and the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 35:18). Passover commemorates Israel’s concrete redemption from Egypt’s slavery.

Josiah’s reform ends with the eradication of all pagan idols, statues, worship, prophets, and everything pagan in the whole kingdom. In spite of this sweeping and kingdom-shaking reform of Josiah, it was not handed down to the next generation. The succeeding kings ended up worse the previous kings until the kingdom of Judah was finally expunged. This teaches us a lesson that reformation is not just a one sweeping and exciting event. Reformation is a daily event in each individual heart!

[1] All Bible quotations throughout this essay are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise stated.

Ferdinand O. Regalado, PhD, was professor of Biblical Studies at Walla Walla University until he recently serve Edinburg Seventh-day Adventist Church in Edinburg, Texas as a senior pastor.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7195
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Do we care to repair our own “temple” place of worship?
Josiah’s Reform, 19 November 2015, Ferdinand O. Regalado said: “The dramatic discovery of the Book of the Law (Heb. sefer hatorah) resulted in a religious reformation throughout the country. The reform began with the repairing of the Temple of the LORD. It helped that he seems to have had an honest group of repairmen.”

2 Kings 22:5 New International Version
”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—”
The church building always seems to be the downfall or albatross for churches. The repairs or maintenance of the building becomes too big of a burden to bear for small congregations and either depletes the savings or endowment fund, or goes ignored and the building falls in further disrepair. The local conference that actually owns the buildings we worship in does NOTHING to periodically inspect them or improve them leaving it to the local church to do what they can.
Everything in our sanctuary is about 100 years old, which doesn’t mix well when the the congregation is mostly young families with kids and toddlers running around. Let me cite the example of the outside appearance.

The first thing people see about our church is its exterior – many will likely form impressions about your church as soon as they arrive. We need a more effective way of doing maintenance and improving the appearance of our churches. Generally our church buildings look lousy and are not safe to worship in.

Think about these questions as you go to your local Adventist church this weekend.

What is my first impression of the building? Does it look old and dated? New and updated? Formal or informal? Messy or clean? Loved or neglected? Typical (it’s a traditional building) or unique (it’s a school, theater, etc.)? Does your own home landscaping look better than the church’s?What does the parking lot look like? Are the parking spaces marked? If the lot is paved, is it broken and poorly maintained? Are there weeds growing through the asphalt? Is there clearly identified guest parking? Would I likely feel safe in the parking lot? Is the building itself in an area that appears to be dangerous? Is there adequate lighting throughout the parking lot? Must I park so far from the building that the walk could be frightening? Does the exterior show a need for maintenance? Are window frames freshly painted? Are any windows broken and unrepaired? Do the exterior doors need paint? Do bricks or siding need repair? If the church has a sign, what does it say about the church? Does the sign itself look dated? Does it have so much information on it that no one could possibly read it all while driving by? Is there an outdated announcement on it (or, is there a corny saying on it)?

What does the landscaping look like? Is the landscaping fresh and alive? Are there dead flowers or bushes around the building? Is the mulch old and colorless? Do flowerbeds need to be weeded? Does the grass need to be cut? Is the lawn trimmed well? Are there messy areas around the building? For example, are there garbage bins in an unnecessarily obvious place? Has some spot around the building inadvertently become a storage place for old “stuff”? Is there an old storage shed on the property?

Are main building entrances clearly marked? The bigger the building is, the more likely it is that I may not know which door to enter. The overwhelming nature of a larger building can be minimized if a clearly marked, intentionally welcoming entrance is identified.

Would I generally feel welcomed when I drive into the lot?

And we haven’t even gone inside…

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The church building where congregations meet is owned by the conference, but not as a good and responsible owner as it is left to the members to pay the mortgage, pay for all maintenance and repairs that may be needed.

This presents a Catch-22 dilemma. The congregation is essentially “renting” the building until the mortgage is paid, but the conference is still the owner. This has been demonstrated when a congregation decides to leave the Adventist “umbrella” and go their own way. Then, the conference can evict the members who for years have paid for the building and all maintenance. In some instances, the conference has blocked the door and changed the locks.

Some congregations rent from another Christian church and this has worked well with congenial agreements if there is a conflict of special uses such as funerals, weddings, etc.

Do other denominations own the building for each congregation? When there is a division such as the recent separation of the Episcopal (Anglican) organization over who owns the building, how is the arbitration handled?

Has there been any discussions of ownership of church buildings or is simply the method for all world divisions?

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Josiah’s Reform also teaches about transitioning from one administration to the next. No doubt there were those who were simply waiting for Josiah to die and then re introduce the"norm". Josiah was probably looked at as a fundamentalist who was destroying relationship with the surrounding nations. He Josiah was not popular with the princes of Judah, who were determined to fight against and undermine him. A house divided cannot stand.
I don’t think Josiah was over zealous, there is no life in idols Infact idol worship destroys human reason. We need to be constantly reminded about our mission and test leaders that are going a stray. Ultimately the word of the all wise Lord our God is the fundamental belief that offers light and test all administration.

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Post deleted by author,

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Josiah was a kid when he started reigning. Probably most of his initial actions were influenced by mentors . I believe he acted out as far as his faith and knowledge took him. House renovation and house cleaning is good but it needs to start from the inside. Often we avoid this. I sometimes wonder why I can pinpoint people who have wronged me and threat them hard or ignore them and yet knowing that at some point in my life I probably have done the very same thing they did to me and not see myself as offensive.Its always easier to fix other people and things first specially in the church, we feel it’s our duty. Beginning at Christ is hard because we have to face ourselves and open hidden boxes of grievances and sins we need to give to God and deal with.Unless we practice trusting and being vulnerable with God it will almost be impossible to do it among each other. Hollow blocks and cements, picture frames and wallpapers, chandeliers and polished floors have no power to make us beautiful - but they make us look good really fast The beauty of God transcends in us when repentance comes and He makes His home is us. Unless we begin from the creator, our human creations are mere fragments of sticks and stones joint together.It is possible to have a great church building (or god projects) and yet no community. Or no physical church building and yet have a lively and living church. These verses are good for reflection : Mat: 7 24-28 and 1 Peter 2:5 God wants us home - and this home He builds.

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SS lesson October 11 - Josiah reigned 640-609 BC
SS lesson November 16 - Josiah reigned 639 -608 BC
Details, details…

SS lesson November 15- King Manasseh of Judah (about 686-643 BC)…=44 years
BIBLE>>>2 Kings 21:1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years (55) in Jerusalem. (MISMATCH)

Manasseh captured around 650 BC and later repented. Reformation lasts about 7 years.(give or take a couple years) Josiah born about 648 BC so lives during the reformation time and Manasseh is his grandpa.

Amon born about 665 BC so lived mostly in the evil pagan times.
His officials killed him after just a couple years of being king. (they were involved in Manasseh’s reform) , yet the people killed them off. Could be a hint that the people were wanting the pagan worship back.
Josiah 16 yrs old - SEEKS GOD
Josiah 20 yrs old - Destroys pagan places
Josiah 26 yrs old - Gets Temple going and finds LAW

." Revival and reformation are two different things. Revival signifies a renewal of spiritual life, a quickening of the powers of mind and heart, a resurrection from spiritual death. Reformation signifies a reorganization, a change in ideas and theories, habits and practices. Reformation will not bring forth the good fruit of righteousness unless it is connected with the revival of the Spirit." 1 SM 128

The ministers must be converted before they can strengthen their brethren. They should not preach themselves, but Christ and His righteousness. A reformation is needed among the people, but it should first begin its purifying work with the ministers. . 1 T 469

To any reader----

If you had dictator powers and could rule that ONE agenda could be carried out in the SDA denomination to promote REFORMATION, as far as how church services were done or any operational approaches …what would you command to change?

My input: Initiate quarterly anonymous surveys from ministerial secretaries to all of the pastors under him AND surveys from local pastors to all of their church members.

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