Then the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant written in this book. Moreover, he made all who were present in Jerusalem and Benjamin to stand with him. So the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. Josiah removed all the abominations from all the lands belonging to the sons of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel to serve the Lord their God. Throughout his lifetime they did not turn from following the Lord God of their fathers.
2 Chronicles 34:31-33 (NASB)
When I first read this I was a little taken back when I observed the statement in verse 33 that Josiah “made all who were present in Israel to serve the LORD their God.” How after all can you make someone serve the Lord if they do not want to. Then it struck me that it was the influence of his example that caused the change. His leadership and direction and his decisiveness of action caused the people to take notice and to turn back to their God. As a result the curses that were the natural consequence of the sin of Judah were not visited on this people. One faithful and intentional leader saved an entire generation. It is also noteworthy that all of this came about as a result of Josiah’s own personal commitment to follow God in his private life.
This passage gives me pause to examine my own leadership. Am I being the kind of leader who is drawing others to Jesus and causing them to want to serve the Lord? Is my life a model that points people to obedience and faithfulness? Am I, like Josiah, faithfully pursuing God with my heart and not just my actions? Am I as grieved by my sin as he was and as desirous of God’s blessing in my life and on my land? If I were, what difference would this make for my wife and my children? What difference would it make in the lives of my friends and colleagues?
Lord God, make us the kind of people who pursue you tenaciously in our own lives that we might, by our own love for you, draw others to know you better. Give us hearts that long for you and are grieved by sin. Give us the desire to ruthlessly tear down the idols in our lives and our hearts that we would have room only for you and that which you have shown us to be good.
Amen and amen.