RELIGIOUS REFORM

RELIGIOUS REFORM(JOSHUA)

INTRODUCTION

Reforms are carried out to restore certain practice or ways of existence that have been abandoned or deserted. Religious reform in Israel was carried out to restore the true worship of God which has been infiltrated with the worship of idols with its prevalence effects on both social and religious evils. King Josiah, the son of Amon started to reign in Jerusalem at the age of  eight and reigned for thirty one years. He devoted himself to pleasing God and reinstituting Israel’s observance of the Mosaic Law.

THE PREVALENT RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES IN JUDAH THAT BROUGHT ABOUT JOSIAH’S REFORM (2 Kings 23:1-30)

  • During the reign of Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather, he fostered many idols in Judah and erected high places for them. In these high were ordained priests who ministered to these gods on their altars.
  • This was an aspect of Baal worship among the Canaanites. The Israelites adopted this religious practice to boost their agricultural harvest since Baal was believed to be the god of fertility. He was considered to be responsible for the rain that fertilized the soil for the survival of crops and animals upon which human lives depended.
  • The use of mediums and wizard was used to determine the fate of some persons on certain issues. Innocent people lost their live through this means since not al information by these mediums were authentic and reliable.
  • At a place called tophet, human beings were sacrificed to the gods called Molech, in the valley of the sons of Hinnom.

 

THE DISCOVERY OF THE LAW BOOK (2Kings 22:1-11)

The law book was discovered in the 18th year of the reign of King Josiah, during the renovation of the house of the Lord. The book was discovered by Hilkah the high priest and was sent to King Josiah through his secretary shaphan. When shaphan read the book before the king, he rented his clothes because he felt the guilt of the fact that the words of the Lord have been grossly disobeyed. He quickly sorted prophetic interpretations to avert the wrath of God.

 

THE PROPHECY OF PROPHETESS HULDAH (2KINGS 22:12-20)

King Josiah sent five men including Hilkiah and Shaphan to Prophetess Huldah to inquire from her what God had in stock against the nation.  Huldah told the messengers that because Israel had forsaken the Lord and burnt incense to other gods, God had resolved to bring evil upon their land and its inhabitant. But as for the king, she maintained that God has heard his cries and would be kind to him because the king, she maintained that God has heard his cries and would be kind to him because the king was humble and rented his clothes, when he heard the content of the law book. Having received the message from God, Josiah assembled all the Israelites including the priests and the prophets in the temple to renew the covenant. After reading the book of the covenant before the people, he stood by the pillar and promised to keep God’s commandments. And the people also pledged their readiness to walk in accordance with God’s statues and His ordinances.

 

JOSIAH’S REFORMS IN JUDAH (11KINGS 23:4-14, 21-30)

  • King Josiah ordered the removal of the vessels of Baal, Asherah and those of other gods out of the temple. He burned them outside Jerusalem and carried their Ashera to Bethel.
  • He deposited the idolatrous priest, destroyed their idols and altars
  • He broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes in the house
  • He destroyed the high places east of Jerusalem
  • Child sacrifice, the religious practice of the Assyrian was abolished
  • The use of medium and wizard were stopped
  • He reintroduces the feast of Passover which commemorates their departure from Egypt.
  • King Josiah extended his reform to the Northern kingdom of Israel.
  • He eradicated the worship of idols fostered by Jeroboam the first king of the Northern kingdom.

 

SIGNIFICANT POINTS AND LESSONS

  • Age is not a determinant of a good leadership
  • Idol worship attracts God’s wrath and severe punishment, therefore it should be discouraged
  • It pays to sincerely worship God as displayed in the life of Josiah
  • As Christians, we should always try to keep God’s commandments to avoid His punishment
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