King Josiah: Good Spice in a Bad Curry
The Lord has been good to the people, forgiving them when they are weak, reprimanding them when they go astray
The book of kings is like a curry. More and more flavours are added into the covenant that God makes with His people until what we end up with at the end of 2 Kings is far from the raw ingredients we started with in Abraham and Moses. The Lord has been good to the people, forgiving them when they are weak, reprimanding them when they go astray. Each time a new king comes on the scene, a new flavour is added into the bowl and leaves his mark on the way that his people understand God.
The Bible has a very straightforward way of assessing these kings who come and go. Every time a king comes to the throne, the author has marked his credentials, what age he came to the throne and then always adds that this particular king either “did evil in the eyes of the Lord” or “did good in the eyes of the Lord”. Simple. Josiah, who came to the throne early in life, was one of the few who appeared to do good in the eyes of the Lord.
The society he lived in was one which had forgotten about God
But Josiah was quite alone in standing upright; his grandfather Hezekiah was a good king but his father, Manasseh, was evil. Unfortunately, his children were also destined to go the same way. The society he lived in was one which had forgotten about God and when Josiah gets to the throne at the tender age of eight, his story was not so much about grandness or greatness, but more about remembering. Remembering something important.
I remember a sandwich toaster we used to have in a student house I lived in. When it was bought, we reveled in it. Everybody loves a good toasted sandwich and this badboy didn’t muck around. We had cheese and onion, ham and peanut butter, probably even roast chicken sandwiches at some point. But as always happens to a sandwich toaster, it was removed from its post during a kitchen tidy-up and didn’t emerge for a few months. When eventually it did resurface, it looked sad. Grubby and oily, we scrubbed it down and put it back in its place. It didn’t take long before we remembered its potential and got excited about getting it operational again. I think the flavors of toastie after that became even more extreme. Turkey and four cheese, chocolate spread and duck fat, roasted veg and a red wine reduction.
I exaggerate of course but the point is simple. Out of sight, out of mind.
Shaphan, the secretary to Josiah, is sent out to talk to the high priest about some work Josiah wants doing on the temple. When they talk, it emerges that the high priest has found something. Something important. Something that the whole of his society has been based around. He has found the word of God. The book that was supposed to have a central part in ceremony and society was lost under other temple paraphernalia. How could something like that be allowed to happen?
Well, when Josiah finds it he is beside himself. The Bible says that he tore his robes he was so mad. He recognizes that he has not been doing what God has asked him too. And he knows that this is a big problem.
How are we to know what is Good and what is not, if we are not connected to the person who knows about both?
‘Out of sight, out of mind’. How are we to know what is Good and what is not, if we are not connected to the person who knows about both? Josiah set about answering that question for his people, but it is a personal one too.
I was 6 when I first decided to follow God. If you want to know what then meant for me then, I would say that, at that age, I knew that there was good in the world and I knew there was evil too. I knew that God knew about both and, if he did, it simply made sense to get to know him better.
Goodness is not something we know all about by ourselves. We only know about it in connection with God.
Goodness is not abstract. In the Hebrew mind, goodness must be bedded in a relationship. ‘Good’ is the word for an attractive man or a pretty lady or the soil that produces crops or even gold, but it is also a huge truth in scripture that God is good. To us. In scripture, God’s goodness appears most clearly in his dealings with people. When we say God is good, we are not commenting on God fulfilling what we think constitutes the word but, instead, of how he has impacted our own life. We are telling our own story.
One king in the Bible once said this.
‘For God is Good, his grace continues forever and his faithfulness lasts through all generations.’
When we say God is good, we are telling our own story.
That isn’t a statement of his ideals about God, this is a declaration of what he has been through. Decisions, battles, trading, personal struggles. This is how he has arrived at this conclusion. This is his story.
The question is, what's yours? How could you say that God is Good?