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    by Fred Price

The Josiah Effect
Date Posted: August 21, 2020

Who was Josiah? A righteous, God-fearing King of Judah who started his reign at age eight. How much could one so young really know? To a certain extent, he had to depend on what he was taught. Is that good or bad? It depends on what you do with those foundational teachings; at some point examining them closely, either accepting them as your own or rejecting them for something else. Gaining additional knowledge and increasing faith is your responsibility. Evidently Josiah did, it being said of him, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…” 2 Kings 22:2

At twenty-six, having been king for eighteen years, he was supervising the refurbishing of the temple when a book was found and, “When the King heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.” 2 Kings 22:11 In dismay – fear – remorse? I believe some of all those emotions came over him. But he didn’t stop there, instructing his advisers to go and find out more. They hadn’t been doing all they should, living by tradition, hearsay and various interpretations of right and wrong; having done well but not all they could. (2 Kings 22:13)

The result was that punishment, required as a result of the Law being neglected was sure but postponed; delayed on account of Josiah’s earnestness in seeking, acknowledging, repenting and changing – and leading his people (by example) to do the same. (2 Kings 22:15-20) Was everyone saved as a result? No. Personal reflection, repentance and salvation is the responsibility of each individual. But Josiah’s public declaration of his own need and intent to serve the Lord accompanied by acknowledgement of God’s promised blessing when Israel stayed true to her part of their covenant, went a long way in encouraging and convincing others to follow his lead. (2 Kings 23:1-3) (A wonderful example of the influence one person can have on others. He, then a “remnant” of others were able to effectively “hold off” national punishment as a result of their steadfast obedience and influence. Truly a little salt changing the flavor of the whole pot of stew. See Matthew 5:13)

The problem was that there had been a mixing of good and evil, a picking and choosing of what was acceptable and unacceptable (on their terms), a “cleansing” of evil to acceptability alongside truth. (Such as the priests of the “high places” being recognized alongside those of the Levitical order.) Afterward, they meticulously observed the commands of God, removing the idols, tearing down the adulterous altars and purifying the priesthood as well as the temple. (2 Kings 23:4-25) Before this revelation of truth they had done what they knew to do; they just didn’t know much. They obeyed what they understood; but they didn’t understand fully. As a result, they didn’t prosper because they weren’t fully equipped or prepared to do so. In essence, they got by rather than excelling. They had a casual exposure to the Lord eliciting a casual response to him in their acceptance, adherence, and obedience. Their faith was life-affirming not life-changing! What’s the difference? One merely makes you comfortable where you are, the other actually does affirm the path you’re on but challenges you to know more and change where needed.

Like many others, Josiah wasn’t antagonistic to the concepts or dictates of Jehovah, he just wasn’t aware of them fully. He wasn’t able to fully respond until blessed and confronted by the words of God’s Book. Who’s responsible for a situation like that? His teachers, his parents, his preacher? To some extent, they may all have been. But the real treasure was among them all the time, having been misplaced out of neglect and indifference. (Ironically, the Book being found in the treasury of the temple, its value recognized but set aside – “saved” but not used. 2 Chronicles 34:14) But was he – or we – never expected to dig for that treasure; to hunt and search for more? To be sure YOU know all you can and have done all that is expected?

Some things just randomly occur, many things we make or at least allow to happen; either way, we have at least a certain amount of control in how we respond. Much of that is dictated by where we place ourselves, who we hang out with, the people we choose to emulate, the examples we choose to imitate; the counsel we choose to listen to. So who’s in control of your life? You choose! A good example to follow would be Josiah. What happened to change his mind? He was introduced to the reality of the word. He took it to heart, studied it further and decided to act on what he learned. It changed his understanding which in turn changed his ability to obey; thus changing his lifestyle and witness! He was convicted (found guilty, or realizing guilt) and as a result was moved to change, to become not guilty!

Which begs the question: Was he saved before these incidents and if he was, what about the evil he inadvertently allowed to go on around him? I believe his heart was in the right place even before his mind was. I don’t believe ignorance excuses sin – especially if that ignorance is self-imposed through a lack of desire and effort; but I do believe God judges us on what we know and how well we put that knowledge to use. I also believe we will be judged on how earnestly we strive to learn more. How about you – have you had a Josiah experience? When will you stop relying solely on what you’ve been told by others (which may be absolutely right) and depending on what you think you know and find out for sure?

Doing so will foster confidence, not in ourselves but in the realization that in Christ our abilities are refined through obedience to God’s will. Which in part is accomplished by, “…turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding.”; by calling out for insight and crying aloud for His understanding; by searching for God as if He were a buried treasure. (Proverbs 2:2-4) Or as Jesus characterized it, “hungering and thirsting” for righteousness (Matthew 5:6), craving familiarity with God and His word to the point that it becomes that which sustains us; becoming like food, something we can’t live without. Even after a time of failure, we can resume the search again; striving to learn and grow to maturity with each battle lost and won. Moses telling his fellow Israelites, “But if from there (failure) you seek the Lord your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul.Deuteronomy 4:29 Christ assuring us that if we will but “…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness,…” setting our priorities right at the beginning of all our endeavors, all our subsequent needs will be met. (The contemporary English Version reading, “More than anything else, seek…” Him. Matthew 6:33)

Make the gospel of Jesus Christ your own. Don’t make it fit your expectations and lifestyle, rather fashion your life-style after the gospel. For like Josiah and the Kingdom of Israel before us – we now, “…are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, (with a purpose!) that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

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Biography Information:

Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.

Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker.  He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today.  Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.  

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