And the king stood by a pillar, and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people stood to the covenant. — 2 Kings 23:3
As I consider our focus verse, I have a personal reason to thank God for those who have made a covenant “to walk after the LORD.” Like so many others, I have benefited from someone in my family making that commitment.
When my grandmother was a young woman, she was saved in a revival service in the small rural community where she lived. From that day forward, she determined to serve God. She would testify, “When God saved me, He took out the longing for the things of the world. I used to love the shows, the card parties, and the dances, as I was brought up that way. But in a moment of time, the Lord took the very desire for those things out of my heart. I was so surprised, because I did not know the way, but when I got honest in my heart, God did that wonderful thing for me.”
As my grandmother grew as a Christian, she longed for a deeper walk with the Lord, so she started searching for a church she believed followed the whole Word of God. This entailed her going to nearly every traveling revival service that came to her community. She always followed the same pattern. She would get the doctrines of the people she had just heard and take them home with her. Then she would get down beside her bed, open her Bible, and ask God to show her the truth. God was faithful, and it seemed He always showed her to keep looking.
Then one day she heard of the Apostolic Faith Church. When she compared the doctrines taught by this organization to the Word of God, she realized she had found what she was looking for! She cast her lot with these people, and as a result, my mother was brought up in this Gospel and turned her own life over to the Lord. She married my father, who was also a Christian, so I too had the privilege of being raised in a godly home. Now my wife and I are doing our best to pass that same heritage on to our sons. What a blessing the covenant my grandmother made with God has been to our family through the generations!
In today’s text, King Josiah was taking the lead in making a covenant to serve God and live by the words in His Book. Josiah’s decisive action had an impact, for we read that all the people “stood to the covenant,” indicating their intention to be obedient to God by standing to their feet.
Have you made a covenant to walk after the Lord and keep His commandments? If you will continue to follow Him and obey His Word, your commitment will be an example and encouragement to others to do the same.
This chapter continues the account, begun in chapter 22, of the righteous reign of King Josiah. After the discovery of the book of the Law, and learning from the Prophetess Huldah that God’s wrath had been kindled against Judah, Josiah took on the challenging task of attempting to eradicate idol worship from Judah.
Verses 1-3 relate that Josiah called the people together to hear the reading of the book of the Law. The account states that he “stood by a pillar”; the fact that his location is specifically mentioned may indicate that this was an official place or platform from which rulers made decrees. The phrase “stood to the covenant” means that the people confirmed publicly their intention to abide by the king’s declaration.
Verses 4-20 deal mainly with Josiah’s destruction of the high places of idolatry in Judah (a fulfillment of 1 Kings 13:2). His first act was to command the priests to purge the Temple of all the vessels that had been used in idol worship. He removed the idolatrous priests who burned incense to Baal and various pagan deities; he burned the “grove” that Manasseh had set up (see 2 Kings 21:7), which included the image of the female goddess Asherah; and he broke down the “high places,” or shrines, where idolatrous worship took place. The phrase “he defiled Topheth” (verse 10) means that he destroyed the image of Molech, and polluted the area where the idol had stood to the extent that Jewish people would forever regard the place as abominable.
In verses 21-23, Josiah reinstated the observance of the Passover, the most significant of the annual feasts commanded by God. Since this commemoration pointed back to God’s deliverance of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, it was a clear confirmation of Josiah’s purpose to obey the newly found Law, and a reminder to the inhabitants of Judah that they were God’s chosen people.
The remainder of the text covers the further reforms of Josiah and his untimely death as a result of a complicated international situation. Tragically, the religious revival that sprang up under the influence of this righteous king did not continue after his death. God’s wrath had been pronounced upon Judah and Josiah’s death was the beginning of the end for the Southern Kingdom.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The reigns of the kings of Judah
2. The revival during Josiah’s reign
b. The revival (23:1-27)
(1) The public reading of the Law (23:1-2)
(2) The public covenant with the Lord (23:3)
(3) The repression of idolatry (23:4-20)
(4) The celebration of the Passover (23:21-23)
(5) The further reforms of Josiah (23:24-25)
(6) The imminent captivity (23:26-27)
3. The death of Josiah (23:28-30)
When we take a resolute stand for God and make a commitment to follow Him, others will be encouraged to make the same commitment.