OUTWARD REFORM begins with INWARD RENEWAL: "Josiah was eight years old when he became king...and he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left." (2 Kings 22:1-2)
At the tender age of eight, Josiah became the king of Judah. He obeyed God with undivided devotion and initiated sweeping reforms in the land. Throughout his godly leadership of 31 years, Josiah followed the Lord with his whole heart and led his people wisely. His own spiritual passion began to influence Judah and eventually brought about widespread public reforms.
After about ruling for ten years, while Josiah was still a teenager, he sent some people to the high priest to speed up the work of repairing the temple. While clearing the rubble, the high priest found “the Book of the Law” (2 Kings 22:8). Shaphan the scribe thereafter read the word of God to the young king (v. 10). How did the king react? "…when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes" (v. 11). His heart was tender (v. 19a), and he had an inner transformation when he heard the word of God. In fact, Josiah humbled himself before God and quickly sent people to Huldah, the prophetess to discern God’s plan for them (v. 12-20). He then made a covenant before God to follow the Lord, keep all the commandments and do exactly what God’s word required them to do (2 Kings 23:3). This was the beginning of a drastic spiritual reform that spread throughout the land of Judah (v. 4-24) that caused the following statement to be written about King Josiah: "Now 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 after him did any arise like him." (2 Kings 23:25)
There is a key principle that we can learn from Josiah’s life: outward reform begins with inward renewal. Josiah experienced a personal change in his life before he could implement public change. It all began with a personal renewal, which initiated personal transformation in King Josiah’s life. This resulted in him implementing public changes and spiritual reforms in his area of influence and realm of power.
For us too, everything begins with a personal inward renewal and a transformation so that we can obey God’s perfect will for our lives. May this be God’s counsel for us today: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Romans 12:1-2)