06 October 2011

"Moreover, Josiah did away with the mediums, wizards, teraphim, idols, and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, so that he established the words of the law that were written in the book that the priest Hilkiah had found in the house of the Lord. Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him." (vv. 24-25)


The narrative of the great and faithful king Josiah continues. Despite being told by God that Judah would most certainly be taken into exile because of its sin, the king nonetheless instituted a sweeping programme of religious reform designed to bring the people of Judah back into conformity with their sacred covenant (relationship) with God.

In today's passage, we hear a long litany of the reforms that needed to be made. We also get an idea of the extent of Judah's sins: images of foreign gods present in the temple in Jerusalem; priests offering sacrifices to other gods in places other than the temple; male prostitutes; cottage industries providing items for the worship of false gods; livestock dedicated to foreign gods.

Josiah ended all idolatrous worship, sometimes violently and by force. However, the grave of a prophet faithful to God was ordered to be left untouched. The pre-eminent religious holiday of Passover had not been kept 'since the days of the judges who judged Israel' (verse 22a) and Josiah ordered this holiday reinstated.

Today, as we read this passage, there is a temptation to congratulate ourselves that we are no longer so superstitious as to worship pieces of wood or metal or to believe in a pantheon of gods. But each society and each generation has its own idols and these idols can be hard to identify from within the culture because they are taken for granted as 'the way things are'.

Like the people of Judah in Josiah's time, our culture has its own idols and we are all captive to them to some extent, no matter how faithful we try to be to the triune God.

To Ponder

What do you believe are the prevailing idols of our culture and of our generation?

In your estimation, what can the Church universal do to identify these idols and help God's people to be more faithful?

What idols do you need to burn (metaphorically) in your own life?

Bible notes author: The Revd Pam Garrud

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