3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the Elohim of David his father: and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the carved images, and the molten images.

While he was yet young

‭ ‬You can bend the twig,‭ ‬but you cannot bend the tree.‭ ‬You have unclouded leisure in youth‭; ‬you will be hindered by responsibilities and troubles in age.‭ ‬You are more likely to take on the things of the Kingdom‭ "‬as a little child‭" ‬in the impressionable days of youth,‭ ‬than after longer contact with the case-hardening influences of the world of the ungodly.‭

‭TC 02/1899

14 And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of Yahweh, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law of Yahweh given by Moses.

When the zealous young men - Josiah and Jeremiah - set out together to bring Israel back to God, the picture looked very promising. In cleaning out the temple, which during Manasseh's long evil reign had become broken down and neglected, there was found the book of the law. It is hard to realize that the book of the law had been so completely forgotten that Josiah, though seeking God, was for years unaware of its content.

How impressive is the lesson that this could happen in one generation! This was six years after he had begun his great reformation. And still, when this book was discovered and read to him, he rent his clothes and sent in haste to inquire of God what should be done to avert the evils therein prophesied.

God's answer to Josiah was that it was now too late! The evils were on their way and could not be turned aside, but because he was faithful and God-fearing, it would not come in his day.

Bro Growcott - Jeremiah, prophet of judgement

19 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes.

Josiah's previous reforms show that he was generally familiar with God's laws. But it seems certain from his stunned reaction to this Book that he had no direct familiarity with a full and authentic text.

There is a strong Jewish tradition that both Manasseh and Amon had made great efforts to stamp out all copies of the Scriptures, and to persecute those that had them, like the Catholic Church in its heyday. And this indeed is exactly what we would expect-especially in the light of Jehoiakim's treatment of Jeremiah's prophecy, and his attempts to seize Jeremiah for writing it (Jeremiah 36:23-26).

How fitting and how powerfully dramatic if the very manuscript of Moses showed up by Divine Providence at this last bright moment of Israel's history, before the kingdom went into its two thousand five-hundred-year eclipse!

When parts of it were read to Josiah, he was tremendously moved and shaken. He was an extremely devoted and zealous man. For six years he had been labouring to cleanse the land from everything contrary to the Divine holiness. He would certainly have sought-and so far in vain-for a full, sure text of the Divine Law. And he now hears these ancient, inspired denunciations and dreadful, forewarned punishments of the very things he knows are deeply ingrained in the corrupted nation.

There is a great sense of urgency in his sending (2 Kings 22:13) the High Priest to enquire of God. He appears to realise that the cup of wrath is brimming full, and the threatened wrath about to fall. This gives us a deeper insight into the tense zeal which drove him to cleanse the land so thoroughly. We get the details of that cleansing in chapter 23, and no previous efforts begin to compare with his. He knew how corrupt the nation was. He knew that God's patience had lingered long.

Bro Growcott - Like him none before or after

20 And the king commanded Hilkiah, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Abdon the son of Micah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah a servant of the king's, saying,

21 Go, enquire of Yahweh for me, and for them that are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of Yahweh that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of Yahweh, to do after all that is written in this book.

The written law had evidently become a rare and little known thing in high places in Israel, through the neglect and apostasies of former kings. To this probably Isaiah refers a little over two generations before Josiah's day:

"Their root shall be as rottenness and their blossom shall go up as dust, because they have cast away the law of the Lord of Hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore is the anger of the Lord kindled against His people and He hath stretched forth His hand against them and smitten them" (Isaiah 5: 24-25).

But though buried away as a piece of lumber in the temple and unknown in the palaces of the kings, it does not follow that it was unknown to everyone in Judah. even among the Ten Tribes, in the days of Ahab's deepest revolt, God informed Elijah that He had reserved to Himself seven thousand men who had not compromised themselves in the prevailing idolatry. How much more probable that in Judah there was a remnant who were faithful and who mourned in secret the corruptions of the times. Indeed, their existence is plainly recognised in the following message by Isaiah:

"Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word: your brethren that hated you and that cast you out for My Name's sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified; but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed" (Isaiah 66: 5).

And still more plainly in the word by Ezekiel, a generation after Josiah:

"Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof" (Ezekiel 9: 4).

Consequently, though among those surrounding the court of Jerusalem, the written law was a forgotten thing, copies of it were doubtless multiplied among the private servants of Yahweh scattered among the hills and valleys of Judea, among whom faithfulness was thus preserved. But it was necessary to preserve the sacred writings among the leaders of the nation for the sake of its transmission to succeeding times. Copies in private possession were not in the channel of public preservation.

The vicissitudes of the times made their destruction or disappearance a matter of certainty in a short time. In the copy stowed away in the recesses of the temple, and discovered after a long slumber among the dust and cobwebs, the hand of God is visible, as it has been in all generations since, in the preservation of His marvellous word from destruction, often attempted with formidable method and power.

By one providential agency and another, the most ancient book and the most ancient people are extant in the earth at the present day, when their enemies, great in ancient power and name, have passed out of recollection in the land of the living. The Greeks and Egyptians under Antiochus tried to extirpate the Hebrew scriptures some generations before Christ. The Hebrew scriptures fill the land of modern culture: and where is Antiochus? Pagan Rome, 300 years after Christ, made the same attempt, including in her imperial edict, issued by Diocletian, the writings of the apostles.

These writings are the most venerated throughout the civilised world: and where is Diocletian? Where Roman Paganism? Rome of the hated popes has been guilty of the same insane endeavour. The curling flames have devoured thousands of copies by her command, and consumed the bones of readers and believers: but the hated book lives still, and is sold in thousands under the very walls of the Vatican. The providence of God has operated to the protection of His greatest gift to man, from man's own satanic malice and hostility.

Ways of Providence Ch 22

33 And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve Yahweh their Elohim. And all his days they departed not from following Yahweh, the Elohim of their fathers.

What a wonderful tribute! What better record could any man leave behind him than that! That all his days, his zeal and example and influence were such that he had kept his people wholly in the right way.

Bro Growcott - Jeremiah, prophet of judgement