I love Josiah, and I love his revival. When I read through 2 Kings 23 and the litany of what he removed from the Holy Land it sounds like the original litany of conquest by Joshua. Josiah even destroyed the original altars and shrines that Solomon built for his wives and the shrine and idol Jeroboam built at Bethel–the beginnings of the national apostasy in which both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms engaged.
Why did he do this? Because a copy of the Law was found in the Temple and read in his presence. When Josiah heard how far away his kingdom was from what the Lord had wanted for his chosen people, the king wept, tore his clothes, and sought the Lord. He inquired from the prophetess Huldah whether or not the judgments that were read to him would come true. Her response was that they most definitely would happen, but there was also a word of grace and hope:
This is what the Lord, Israel’s God, says about the message you’ve just heard: Because your heart was broken and you submitted before the Lord when you heard what I said about this place and its citizens—that they will become a horror and a curse—and because you ripped your clothes and cried before me, I have listened to you, declares the Lord. That’s why I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will go to your grave in peace. You won’t experience the disaster I am about to bring on this place.
The Lord was willing to hold off on the deserved judgment because of Josiah’s faithfulness! This is amazing! One man can make a difference (thank you Knight Rider). Josiah’s faithful response to what he heard, and his faithful life after that point prompted God to delay the judgment coming on the Southern Kingdom. As things increasingly got worse and worse in Judah one man led a revival of true worship and a true life in line with the Lord and judgment was withheld.
Think about that for a minute for our own situations today. In the Western World our cultures are increasingly sliding away from a more biblical understanding of life and ways of living. Perhaps radical faithfulness and a true revival zeal could postpone judgment. More than that, there are many people who believe the world is closing in on the end of all things and universal judgment. What if there was a spectacular revival of the Church that held off the impending doom?
What if this is the way God always works–judgment is right around the corner, but the faithfulness of some can hold it at bay? What would that mean for our communities? What would that mean for us?