King Josiah, the religious reformer

King Josiah, the religious reformer

13th December

A son will be born to the house of David by the name of Josiah.” (1 Kings 13:2)

Josiah may not be that widely known, but along with Hezekiah, he was one of Judah’s most saintly kings. Like Christ, his birth was prophesied hundreds of years beforehand (1 Kings 13:1-2). He brought religious reform to his kingdom, restored worship at the Temple of Jerusalem, publicly read the Scriptures and defended the poor and needy (2 Chronicles 34:1-3,8, 29-33; Jeremiah 22:16).

The Second Book of Kings says: “There had never before been any king like him nor will there ever be one after him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and all his soul and all his might according to the law of Moses.” (2 Kings 23:25) He was one of the last kings to reign before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians and the people were driven into exile.

Josiah not only served God from the heart, but he also led his nation to conversion. As Scripture later says: “He followed the right course by reforming the people and eliminating loathsome and abominable practices. He kept his heart fixed on God, and in lawless times he made godliness prevail.” (Sirach 49:2-3)

In St Matthew’s gospel, King David began the second chapter of Christ’s family tree, which includes the various kings of David’s royal family. King Josiah and his rebellious sons brought that chapter to a close, with the end of the monarchy “at the time of the deportation to Babylon.” (Matthew 1:11)

This stained glass window picturing Josiah is found within the sanctuary in St Mary’s, Derby. It forms part of a Jesse Tree scheme featuring Christ’s ancestors as featured in St Matthew’s Gospel. Created by the Hardmans firm in the 1850s, the impressive scheme spans three of the sanctuary windows. The figures are not named but are arranged thematically. In this example, three of Judah’s righteous rulers, Hezekiah, Josiah and Zerubbabel are portrayed together.

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