As we conclude the story of Josiah, he is now the 26-year-old king of Judah. The book of the law, which had been lost for generations, is found during renovation of the temple. Upon hearing God’s Word read aloud, the king responds with deep remorse and humility. Josiah gathers the elders of Judah and Jerusalem and vows to follow the Lord and keep His commandments. The people also pledge themselves to the covenant. And the Word of God begins to transform the people and the society.
Josiah launches a program of national renewal to realign the people to Yahweh. All remnants of idolatry are obliterated. The temple is purged of all foreign cults and dedicated wholly to the worship of Yahweh. Josiah destroys all places of idol worship throughout the Southern and Northern Kingdoms, centralizing worship at the Temple of Jerusalem.
The king also orders the people to celebrate the Passover “as it is written in this Book of the Covenant” (2 Kings 23:21). According to 2 Chronicles 35:1-18, the Jews did not observe Passover for about 400 years, from the time of the Prophet Samuel until Josiah’s time. 2 Kings 23:22-23 says: “Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem.”
By abolishing all that did not honor the newly resurrected covenant with Yahweh, Josiah set in motion a reformation that left an indelible mark on Israel’s religious traditions. His responsive heart and humility before God teach us the meaning of true worship and faithful leadership.