“Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
3 In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David. In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles and idols. 4 Under his direction the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles and the idols. These he broke to pieces and scattered over the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and so he purged Judah and Jerusalem. 6 In the towns of Manasseh, Ephraim and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, 7 he tore down the altars and the Asherah poles and crushed the idols to powder and cut to pieces all the incense altars throughout Israel. Then he went back to Jerusalem.
8 In the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the Lord his God.
14 While they were bringing out the money that had been taken into the temple of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses. 15 Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan.
18 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.
19 When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes.
And then God told the prophet:
“Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. Now I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.’”
So they took her answer back to the king.
Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the Lord with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the Levites—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. The king stood by his pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord—to follow the Lord and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant written in this book.
Then he had everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin pledge themselves to it; the people of Jerusalem did this in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors.
Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors.
This is the story of a pretty amazing young man. He became king when he was eight and, unlike his father, choose to seek God and live a humble an obedient life.” II Chronicles 34:1-28 (NIV). You see, Josiah followed the example of his great, great, great, great grandfather—-David.
Josiah was zealous for God—-not the approval of people, and God took note and blessed his efforts. But he was an exceptional king in this regard. His father and his sons were not like him. Sometimes our parents let us down and don’t serve as the best role models or heirs. We all have a choice. Our father have their flaws and our children will have their flaws. The question is what about us—-how are we serving God? How are responding to Him when our sins or habits and customs were inherited from our parents are brought to light? Are we winking at those sins, or are we ripping up our clothes in shame?
When the workers discovered the book of law, which was the book of Deuteronomy, Josiah was shocked… shaken. He tore his robes in sorrow and as an illustration of his astonishment of how far the nation of Israel had erred and drifted from God. The tearing of one’s clothes is an ancient tradition among the Jews, and it is associated with mourning, grief, and loss. It’s first mentioned in Genesis. “When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes” (Genesis 37:29). A short time later, “Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days” (Genesis 37:34) when he thought that Joseph had been killed.
Other biblical examples of men who tore their clothes to express pain and sorrow include David, when Saul and Jonathan were killed (2 Samuel 1:11–12); Elisha, when Elijah was taken up into heaven (2 Kings 2:11–12); Job, when he was bereft of all he possessed (Job 1:20); Jephthah, when he learned the result of his rash vow (Judges 11:34–35); Mordecai, when he learned of Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews (Esther 4:1); Ahab, when Elijah pronounced a judgment against him (1 Kings 21:27); and Paul and Barnabas, when the people of Lystra began to worship them (Acts 14:14).
It’s a symbol of shame, embarrassment, sorrow. It means that that garment you were wearing can never be worn again—it marks an event of sorrow and shame. But unlike today, robes and clothing were precious and expensive—-it was an extravagant act or remorse—-it cost you something to do this. The tearing of one’s clothes was often followed up other signs of humility and grief, such as shaving one’s head (Job 1:20), throwing dust on oneself (Job 2:12), and wearing sackcloth (2 Samuel 3:31).
What do you do when you hear horrible news or unimaginable sorrow? You or I might hear bad news or a see a shocking TV report and we don’t tear our clothes, we cover our mouth. We are awestruck by the bad news and we’re at a loss of what to do or so. That’s where Josiah was. He did not know what to say and he was ashamed and afraid for his people at what they had been doing.
Oh to have a Governor or President like that today….
Now Josiah must have known that his dad was an bad king, but he had no idea just how off the mark his dad was till he read the book. And then it was truly revealed what kind of man his father was. Josiah showed remorse for his association with what was sinful. He showed sadness for the bad things that he had nothing to do with. He admitted, by tearing his clothes, that he got the point: It was against God that these sins had been committed, and even though he was ignorant of the truth, he was now responsible for the future course of his kingdom. He did not just throw up his hands and say, “Oh well, not my fault”. He did something. He was burdened because he recognized that God had been ignored and shamed and that His patience was about ready to run out. Action had to take place——and fast. But first, Josiah showed his own remorse and, as a representative of the people, admitted that they were all guilty of failing to be true sons and daughters of the King of Kings.
Have you read the book or do you let others tell you what it says and then interpret it for you? Do you know what God requires of you? Do you care? Are you a person, like Josiah, that is trying to please your Creator, but you’ve not yet heard Him speak to you, as through a prophet, as to what He requires. If you read the Bible you would soon understand that our God is a holy and perfect God, full of love and mercy, that desires to bless us—-but that He is also a God that expects obedience, and for us to respond in forgiveness and patience to others, just as as He has dealt with us.
Has our President and Vice President and Governor read the book? If they have, I wonder where is our national shame is? Why aren’t we fasting as a country? Josiah knew that what he was reading was authentic and true. He did not run away from it and ignore it. But then, he was seeking God all along. Those that are not seeking truth—— God——can read the Bible, smile, close it and keep doing the same things. But you cannot be seeking His pleasure and approval, and then, after reading His book, determine to live the same way. His word is a sword—-it cuts us to the heart. It convicts us of sin—-and inspires us to turn away for evil and seek God. What what is evil? Whatever God is opposed to God’s laws.
We are never told why Josiah , at the very beginning, desired God or why at 16 he became so passionate about God or why at 20 he became so fully devoted to establishing the laws of God in Judah—-he became a champion for God!
But I know this: we have 16 and 20 year olds in this sanctuary right now who could be Josiahs in Colombia, Mexico or the USA. Youth and young adults could change the world—-and very often have. But if you are 8, 16 or 20 and your father’s example is not consistent with God’s law, you’re required to honor him anyway, but find a true hero for the Kingdom of God and follow His example. That perfect example is found in Jesus Christ. And at 8, 12, 16, 20 and 33 years of age, He was the perfect Son.