For some context, the nation of Judah was not serving God. They had mixed with the nations around them and were not keeping the instructions that God had given them in the Law. They were worshipping other gods, going so far as to sacrifice their children on pagan altars and still say that they were serving the LORD. However, one young boy had a heart after God. Josiah began to reign when he was only eight years old and the scripture tells us that he sought the LORD from his youth (2 Chronicles 34:2-3). When he was twenty years old, he commanded that the broken-down temple of the LORD be repaired (2 Kings 22:4-5). While that task was being undertaken, they found the law of LORD in the midst of the rubble. Can you picture this? The scroll with the Word of the LORD, everything God had instructed, covered in dust, forgotten. The priest found the law and gave it to the secretary of King Josiah, who read from it before the king. In response, King Josiah tore his clothes and commanded the priests to inquire of the LORD, and God answered him. King Josiah instituted reforms in every way that he could. He, himself, read every book of the Law to the people (think how long this would have taken). He made a covenant with the LORD and reinstituted the Passover. He removed the idols and the houses of the cult prostitutes and burned the pagan altars so that no one could burn their children as an offering to a pagan god. During his reign, the people kept the law of the LORD, because his heart was to seek God fully.
Look at God’s response to him: “Regarding the words that you have heard because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words against this place…I also have heard you, declares the Lord. Behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place and its inhabitants” (2 Chronicles 34: 24-28). Basically, what God said was, “as long as you’re there, the land will have peace.” What we learn from the story of King Josiah is that wholehearted love for God must come from a knowledge of His word. Josiah sought God from the time that he was eight years old, but he did not turn to God fully and turn his nation to God until the book of the Law was found. There is a right and a wrong way to serve God. Josiah didn’t know how to serve God, until the Law was found. Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” and Jesus is the Word made flesh! His Word gives life, instruction, strength, peace, hope and stability and every commandment He gave us is for our good! So, let’s be encouraged today to love God with our whole hearts. We can only love Him because He first loved us. His Word is His love written down for us and Jesus Christ is that Word, shown to us. When we love Him with our whole hearts and keep his commandments, we become that same Word, that same love, shown to the world around us!