Read 2 Kings 23
Focus on verses 2-3, 25
The king himself read the book of the Law to the people, then he stood by the pillar and made a covenant to walk in the ways of these statutes written in the book, and it says, “all the people joined in the covenant”.
Here we have a wonderful example of godly leadership. Josiah did not simply command the priests to read the book to the people separating religious duties from civic duties. He led the way bringing the civic and religious responsibility together demonstrating to the people how it was done. No wonder it says again later in the chapter, “…there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to the all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.”
Josiah is one of the few examples among the later kings of Judah whose heart was fully committed to the Lord. His actions after he completes reading the book to the people and covenanting to follow the Law demonstrates that he was serious about his commitment. He is the only one who not only removes the idolatrous images and altars from temple, but he also goes throughout the land and removes the high places and demolishes the altars to Chemosh and Molech where some of his forefathers had sacrificed their children. The text does not reveal to what extent Josiah’s reforms were resisted, but I rather suspect there may have been some who were not entirely pleased with it. I can imagine that particularly those whose livelihood was connected to the worship of these false gods may have attempted to undermine or perhaps even overthrow Josiah.
What the text does reveal is that as a result of Josiah’s reforms the nation is granted a temporary reprieve from the impending judgment that ultimately did send them into a seventy-year captivity.