Josiah gathers all the people of Judah, both small and great. “And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant which had been found in the house of the Lord. Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to follow the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. And he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin take a stand. So the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. Thus Josiah removed all the abominations from all the country that belonged to the children of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel diligently serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not depart from following the Lord God of their fathers.”
During the purge of the false gods, Josiah inquires of a certain tombstone. The men of the city said to him – “It is the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel.” Remember on June 9th when we read about this man of God? The Lord sent him from Judah to give Jeroboam, the first king of Israel, a word from the Lord after Jeroboam led the nation into idolatry. The man of God stood before Jeroboam – “Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you’” (1 Kings 13:2). Today, about three hundred years after the man of God approached Jeroboam, Josiah fulfilled that prophecy.
Josiah also commands the people to keep the Passover just as the Lord commanded the Israelites in the wilderness. The Passover is an annual celebration commemorating their deliverance from Egypt – “There had been no Passover kept in Israel like that since the days of Samuel the prophet; and none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept, with the priests and the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah this Passover was kept.”
Next we meet the prophet Nahum who begins his ministry before the fall of Assyria in 612 BC. Nahum describes the sovereignty and goodness of the Lord but says He will not tolerate wickedness. He proclaims judgment against Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, and in contrast he speaks of the Lord’s mercy toward Judah.
Not long ago we read about Jonah unwillingly visiting Nineveh and the people repenting (Jonah 3). “This repentance, however, did not last beyond 745 B.C. when Tiglath-pileser made his people the leading military power in the Near East. The vast Assyrian Empire was established by bloodshed and massacre, cruelty and torture, destruction, plundering, and exiling such as has seldom been seen in history.” (ESV Study Bible)
Remember, the Assyrians are the ones that destroyed Northern Israel as a nation. Nahum tells Nineveh that the Lord is against them and that He is going to send an enemy to shame them before all the nations. And when Nineveh falls, “All who hear news of you will clap their hands over you, for upon whom has not your wickedness passed continually?”
All nations are under control of the sovereign hand of the Lord. Soon He will destroy the Assyrian empire and raise up Babylon as His “battle ax” to bring judgment upon Judah and the surrounding nations.
Tomorrow we will hear from the prophets Habakkuk and Zephaniah, so keep reading. (2 Kings 23:1-20, 2 Chronicles 34:29-33, 2 Kings 23:21-28, 2 Chronicles 35:1-19, Nahum 1:1-3:19)