It really is a pretty impressive list . . . but it came up short. There was no king like him in terms of his shear effort to try and power revival throughout Judah. If it was pagan . . . it was gone. If it was a high place it was torn down. If it went contrary to the Word of God, it was destroyed. The Word had become a mirror of his sin and the sin of the people he reigned over. And so, Josiah did everything he could, by the power vested in him as king, to reclaim the temple . . . to reclaim the city . . . to reclaim the land . . . to reclaim the people which God had claimed for Himself. Yup . . . 2Kings 22 and 23 is a pretty impressive read . . . but it wasn’t enough to turn the tide. How come?
Because, for all that King Josiah could do in terms of cleaning out the temple . . . for all the power he had to tear down altars to pagan deities . . . for all the resources he could invest in forcing compliance to the ways of the Law of Moses . . . there was one area he could not touch . . . one realm he could not influence . . . one thing he was powerless to fix. Josiah the house cleaner . . . Josiah the reformer . . . could not affect people’s hearts. And true revival starts with the heart.
Josiah did what Josiah did because the Word of God had touched his heart . . .
Before [Josiah] there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. 2Kings 23:25
Josiah’s personal revival started in his heart. With all his heart he turned to the Lord . . . and it invaded his soul . . . and then was manifest through his might.
When Josiah read the word of God, the Spirit of God did heart surgery within the king . . . his hearts was tenderized (NKJV) and made soft towards the things of God . . . and he who sat on the throne in Jerusalem humbled himself before Him who sits on the throne of heaven . . . Josiah tore his royal robe and wept royal tears (2Kings 2:19). The living Word of God had been taken in the hands of the Spirit of God and, like a two-edged sword, had splayed open the inner most being of the king . . . unveiling the thoughts and intentions of the heart . . . revealing the holiness and righteousness of the God who had called him. It began with a new heart . . . it spread throughout his entire being . . . and it was put into action by all his efforts to clean house throughout the land.
But in the end, all the might at the king’s command made no difference because it could not impact the hearts of men and women unfaithful to their God. That, is a work of God alone.
Apart from God providing a remedy for sin . . . apart from God taking hearts of stone and replacing them with hearts of flesh . . . apart from God infusing His life transforming Word within the soul’s of men . . . apart from God giving men and women a new spirit through the regenerating agency of His Spirit . . . external revival is but a flash in the pan.
You can remove all the altars you want . . . you can tear down the high places until there’s nowhere else to go but to the temple . . . you can legislate and mandate compliance all you want . . . but loving God with all your might before loving Him with all your heart and soul, will come up short every time.
O’ that God would work true revival among His people . . . starting with the heart . . .
By His grace . . . for His glory . . .