J. G. Vos writes:
“And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers” (2 Chron. 34:32b).
Josiah was king of Judah 639-608 B.C., on the verge of the Babylonian Captivity. During his reign there occurred the last religious revival before the captivity. At the age of 16, having been king eight years, Josiah undertook the religious reformation of his kingdom. When the king and his people set their heart on consistently living according to God’s will, God met them with help and blessing and prospered their efforts. There was a spirit of zeal, unanimity, and spontaneous eagerness in their service of God. This was nothing mechanical or artificially worked up. It was real. It came from their hearts by the work of the Holy Spirit.
False religion cleared away
Read 2 Chronicles 34:3-7. The idolatrous religion was ancient, customary, and deeply imbedded in the life of the people. Only a king and people united in honestly turning to God could eliminate it. It is very difficult to change that which has the sanction of antiquity, custom, long usage, and popularity. Here in Josiah’s reform we see the victory of principle over popularity—something very much needed today. When we get a revival like that, there will be sweeping changes in religious life, customs, and worship. The unscriptural worship of centuries will be swept away with a return to the reign of Scriptural principles.
God’s house was repaired
Read 2 Chronicles 34:8-13. For long years this had been neglected, but a people with a mind to return to God soon put the temple in repair again. The workmen wrought faithfully. It was not necessary to audit their accounts, for they worked conscientiously. A similar revival in our own day would not only take care of the physical repair of church buildings, but would provide for the proper support, in proportion to our real ability, of the whole program of the church and kingdom of God.
God’s work requires not merely money, but money willingly given by a people who have set their heart on the true progress and welfare of God’s church and kingdom.
Attention given to the Word of God
Read 2 Chronicles 34:14-28. For years the Word of God had been lost and neglected. The roll of the Book found was perhaps one lost or hidden during Manasseh’s reign, or one place in a cornerstone when the temple was built by Solomon. At any rate, when found it produced a tremendous effect. Those people really took Scripture seriously. To them the Word of God was not a mere ornament or formality. It made a profound impression on king and people. This would be true in a similar revival today. It may be questioned whether the present revival movement in America is producing a real return to Scripture. The attitude toward Scripture seems still to be a formal and conventional one in may cases.
In Josiah’s day, covenant vows were solemnly taken by king and people. Read 2 Chronicles 34:29-33. Divinely appointed worship, long neglected in whole or in part, was once more observed in an adequate and Scriptural manner. Read 2 Chronicles 35:1, 2, 17-19. In this revival, conscientious devotion to God overcame (1) popular false worship and practices; (2) gross ignorance of God’s will; (3) long continued neglect of divinely appointed worship.
The revival North America needs is along the same lines. How can we help? Not by doing something dramatic or spectacular, but by what Josiah is recorded as doing in 2 Chronicles 34:2-3. If we will be faithful and consistent in keeping our covenant vows to God, he will work in a mysterious way his wonders to perform.