Josiah was only eight years old when he became king. He was the grandson of Manasseh and his father, Amon, had been assassinated. The people made Josiah king after his father’s death. Do you remember that Josiah had been talked about 300 years earlier when the prophet talked to Jeroboam?
When Josiah was sixteen years old he began to seek the Lord, and in the years to follow he began to rid his kingdom of idol worship. He thoroughly destroyed everything related to idolatry throughout Israel. Then he turned his focus to repairing the temple. He had men work hard to fix up the worn and damaged parts of the building.
While work was being done in the temple an old copy of God’s laws was found. The king had it read and he was grieved; he ripped his robes as he realized how far they had wandered from God. King Josiah had Huldah, a prophetess sent for.
“I know generations of us have forsaken the law, and that God’s wrath is coming because of that. Tell me Huldah, is there any chance of mercy?”
Huldah told the king that God’s wrath was coming, but that Josiah would be spared because his heart was responsive and he had humbled himself before God.
Knowing God’s wrath was coming, Josiah gathered the people around and read them the book of the Law. He renew the covenant, promising to follow the Lord and keep His commands, statutes and decrees with all of his heart and soul, and he had all of his people do the same. Josiah led all of his people to serve the Lord because of his strong leadership and because of his own resolve to follow the Lord.
As his great grandfather Hezekiah had done, Josiah encouraged the Levites and Priests in their service in the Lord’s temple, and he instructed them to prepare for the celebration of the Passover.
When it came time for the Passover Josiah provided 30,000 lambs and goats for the poor, as well as 3,000 cattle, all from his own supply. This Passover celebration was unlike any that had been observed since the time of Samuel, the prophet who declared David to be king. This Passover was unique in its absolute devotion to God and His written law.
Time passed and Necho, king of Egypt, went to fight against the Assyrians. Josiah pursued Necho, trying to oppose him but King Necho sent a message back telling King Josiah to stop opposing him, God had told him to make haste. Josiah did not stop his pursuit, but rather he disguised himself to fight Necho in battle. An archer’s arrow hit Josiah, seriously wounding him and he was taken back to Jerusalem in a chariot. There he died, mourned by all of his people. Jeremiah the prophet wrote laments about Josiah that all of the people sang.