Named Before Birth – Josiah

Named Before Birth – Josiah

Named Before Birth – Josiah.

“At the Lord’s command, a man of God from Judah went to Bethel, arriving there just as Jeroboam was approaching the altar to burn incense. Then at the Lord’s command he shouted, “O altar, altar! This is what the Lord says: A child named Josiah will be born into the dynasty of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests from the pagan shrines who come here to burn incense, and human bones will be burned on you!” (1 Kings 13:2).

Josiah, one of the greatest heroes in Biblical history, was named before he was born… 300 years before he was born! The story of Josiah started there in 1 Kings, when a pagan shrine was built in Bethel, north of Jerusalem, after the death of Solomon. This place of idol worship was built to distract the people from going to Jerusalem and worshiping the true God of Israel. Bethel was a tempting competitor, unfortunately, and soon became a vastly popular place of pagan worship. Proving how history repeats itself, a golden calf was placed in Bethel and worshiped fervently by the people, repeating the most offensive sin in the wilderness at the time of Moses. In response to this idolatry in Bethel, the Lord sent a prophet to speak His word over the king responsible for the paganism, King Jeroboam. The prophet approached Jeroboam as he was about to burn incense to the idol. The prophet shouted his word of prophecy about a boy named Josiah to come in the future and destroy this pagan shrine. Amazingly, this prophecy came true 300 years later when Josiah, the 16th king of Judah, tore down the pagan altar, destroyed the golden calf, and burned down the shrine, grinding it to dust. Josiah then ordered that bones of earlier pagan priests be brought out and burned on that altar to desecrate it (2 Kings 23:15-16). That was only one of many reforms enacted by Josiah.

Josiah, whose name means “Lord who heals,” became king of Judah when only eight years old, succeeding his wicked father Amon. Amon “was evil in the Lord’s sight,” worshiping pagan idols and leading Judah down a path the Lord despised. When Josiah was 26 years old, he began a series of reforms that transformed the nation of Judah. Josiah proved to be the greatest reformer in the nation’s history… He repaired the long neglected and misused Temple; he discovered a lost scroll of the Scriptures and, struck to the heart, reminded the people of God’s hand on them and His expectations, and promised that he and his people would obey the teachings of the Torah; he oversaw the major project of destroying all the pagan shrines and sites of idol worship; he reinstated the official priests of God for worship at the Temple; he led the national celebration of Passover, the first in many generations. Josiah broke the chain of wicked kings and “did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight. He did not turn away from doing what was right” (2 Kings 22:2). He was greatly loved by the people of Judah, who seemed happy to submit to his reforms. God decided to postpone the coming judgment of Judah at the hands of Babylon, until after Josiah had died. Could there be a better tribute than this: “Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.” (2 Kings 23:25).