2 KINGS 23
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2 Kings 23:4-20 describes Josiah's activities in destroying the idols of the land. This appears to parallel 2 Chr. 34:3-7, which occurs between Josiah's 12th and 18th years.
This section in 2 Kings 23 seems to be a general summing up. The scope of the events it describes seems to be too great for just the brief period within the 18th year itself between the finding of the Law and holding of the Passover (which-in itself-would require considerable preparation and advance notice among the people).*
3 And the king [HaMelech] stood by a pillar [HaAmmud], and made a covenant [cut HaBrit ] before Yahweh, to walk after Yahweh, and to keep [be shomer mitzvot over] His commandments [edot]and His testimonies and his statutes with all their heart and all their soul [chukkot with all their lev and all their nefesh], to perform the words of this covenant [ these Divrei HaBrit] that were written in this book [Sefer]. And all the people stood to the covenant [And kol HaAm stood [under oath] to HaBrit.
With all their heart
We shall not be judged, at the judgment seat of Christ, for how much we know, or how much we have done. But we SHALL be judged for how much effort and interest and desire we have put into knowing, and how faithfully and wholeheartedly we have tried to do.
The widow's mite is equal to the rich man's abundance. The mite's value lay in the fact that it was her all. So it must be with us. Anything less than our all is a mockery and a dishonouring of God, Who freely and lovingly promises us all. But how few really respond with ALL their heart! They are His jewels among the common clay; today unknown, tomorrow, resplendent forever.
Bro Growcott - Search me O God
4 And the king commanded Hilkiah the high priest, and the priests of the second order, and the keepers of the door, to bring forth out of the temple of Yahweh all the vessels that were made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host of heaven: and he burned them without Jerusalem in the fields of Kidron, and carried the ashes of them unto Bethel.
Bethel was the original center and source of the idolatry that had infected the whole land. It was here that Jeroboam had set up his calves and his rival form of worship to draw his subjects away from the Temple at Jerusalem. The prophecy that was declared to Jeroboam concerning Josiah had to do with Bethel, as we see a little later on in the chapter. Bethel therefore typified all that Josiah was endeavoring to stamp out.*
8 And he brought all the priests out of the cities of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had burned incense, from Geba to Beersheba, and brake down the high places of the gates that were in the entering in of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on a man's left hand at the gate of the city.
To prevent the reestablishment of these places or centers of idolatrous worship, his policy was to defile them with men's bones, or to put them to unclean uses as places of refuse.*
15 Moreover the altar [mizbe'ach] that was at Bethel [Beit-El], and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat [Yarov'am ben Nevat], who made Israel [ caused Yisroel] to sin, had made, both that altar [mizbe'ach] and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small [did grind it] to powder, and burned the grove [Asherah].
Here we come to the fulfillment of the remarkable and long-standing prophecy of the man of God who was sent to Bethel to denounce Jeroboam, and who was subsequently killed by the lion. He had said:
"O altar, altar, thus saith the Lord; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; And upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee" (1 Kings 13:2).
That was over 300 years before. It was not revealed whether Josiah was aware of the prophecy, but the time had now come for its fulfillment. At least it was known in Bethel, and doubtless when they knew of the existence of a righteous king in Judah named Josiah, they must have watched his activities with great interest.
In his taking the ashes of the images to Bethel, as we saw previously, Josiah must have had a special interest in carrying out his cleansing activities THERE, whether because of the prophecy or simply because it was the center of the false worship.
We note again from this incident that Josiah personally supervised the destroying of these idolatrous things, for he was present himself.
As he turned from the altar of Jeroboam, he noticed there were sepulchers near, and he had the bones taken from them and burned on the altar to pollute it. Then he noticed a special marker on one of the sepulchers, of such a nature as to cause him to ask what it stood for.
It was at this point that the men of the city told him that it was the grave of the prophet who had foretold these very things, so Josiah gave orders that that grave should not be disturbed. So the bones of the two prophets were left together in peace.
Josiah went through all Israel doing as he had done at Bethel. Then he returned to Jerusalem.
Bro Growcott - Prepare Your brethren
16 And as Josiah [Yoshiyah ] turned himself, he spied [saw] the sepulchres [ keverim] that were there in the mount [har], and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres [atzmot out of the keverim], and burned them upon the altar [mizbe'ach], and polluted it [made it tameh], according to the Word [Devar] of Yahweh which the man of Elohim proclaimed [Ish HaElohim preached], who proclaimed these words.
During his reign, an incident occurred which formed a pointed illustration of the ways of providence. Encouraged by the comforting assurance he had received he set to work to purge the land from all the defilements of idolatry. He first convened the people and read to them the book which had moved himself so greatly, and imposed upon them a covenant that they would do all that it required of them, "with all their heart and all their soul."
He then ordered the removal of all idolatrous utensils from the precincts of the temple; deposed the idolatrous priests; demolished the buildings used in connection with the idolatrous service, burnt the idolatrous chariots; razed the idolatrous altars in the environs of Jerusalem; and desecrated in as complete a manner as he could devise, all the graves and places consecrated to the idols of the surrounding nations.
Having purged Jerusalem and its neighbourhood, he extended his attention to districts beyond. Bethel, the headquarters of the idol-worship established by Jeroboam, the first king of the Ten Tribes (now included in the jurisdiction of Judah), received an indignant visit. There was at Bethel "the altar and the high place which Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made." The hour had arrived for the fulfilment of a prophecy uttered at Bethel concerning the altar over three hundred years before the time of Josiah. The prophecy is recorded in the account of the reign of Jeroboam (1 Kings 13: 2).
"Behold a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name: and upon thee, O altar (erected by Jeroboam) shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee and men's bones shall be burnt upon thee."
The notable feature of the case lies here, that the fulfilment of this prophecy appeared to come about by accident. Josiah visited Bethel at the time under our notice, for the purpose of breaking down the altar and the high place erected by Jeroboam. Arrived at Bethel for the purpose, he surveys the altar, and we read that-
"As Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount."
These sepulchres contained the bones of the priests who for several generations had ministered at this altar of idolatry. But Josiah had evidently not thought of them in any way: a casual change of posture brought them under his notice, and it occurred to him to make a desecration of this idolatrous structure complete by first burning the bones of its priestly attendants on the altar before breaking it down. Accordingly-
"He sent and took the bones out of the sepulchres and burnt them upon the altar and polluted it." (23:16)
Now to what are we to attribute the thought that led Josiah in this apparently fortuitous manner to fulfil a prophecy? It was without doubt a divine impulse. Josiah's attention was divinely directed to those sepulchres "as he turned himself." But he would not be aware of the fact. He would only be conscious of a sudden thought such as we all feel occasionally - a thought, however, in harmony with his mood - a thought natural to the feelings of the moment - a thought which he would be unable to distinguish from the general zeal which inspired him against the idolatrous institutions of the land.
Ways of Providence Ch 22