Law of Victory – Josiah
now before him [Josiah] 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 NKJV)
Most people secretly believe that winners achieve what they do because they have it easier than we do. They’re lucky. They have more talent. They are born into the right family. In other words, their circumstances are better than ours. That’s a cop-out! People who succeed often do so despite terrible odds and miserable circumstances. (if you doubt that, read the story of Dave Anderson or that of one of many other people in my book Failing Forward.)
If ever a leader faced a deck stacked against him, it was Josiah. As he started his reign, everything seemed to be against him. He had to overcome several obstacles:
1. His Age
Josiah was only eight years old when he became king. He was a child, even by the standards of the Hebrews who marked the passage from boyhood to manhood at age thirteen. He was five years younger than the age at which most boys started their apprenticeship for a trade. He had no influence and no experience.
2. A Horrible Family Heritage
Josiah’s family had left Judah a legacy of pain. If you were to compile a list of the worst kings in the history of the hebrews, Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather, would be right at the top of the list. Here is a description of his actions:
And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places …he raised up altars for Baal, and made a wooden image, as Ahab king of Israel had done; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them. He also built altars in the house of the LORD… And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD. Also he made his son pass through the fire, practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft, and consulted spiritists and mediums. He did much evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger… and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel. (2 Kings 21:2-6, 9 NKJV)
Josiah’s grandfather was more corrupt than the evil Canaanites God had driven from the promised land. And Josiah’s father, Amon, followed Manasseh’s example. Josiah had no godly heritage to draw upon.
3. the Absence of a Positive Role Model
Most good leaders are developed by following the lead of another strong leader. Josiah is a rare exception. Not only did the kings who preceded him fail to provide good modeling for him, but there appeared to be no other leaders present in Jerusalem who could guide and direct him. The prophet Jeremiah didn’t begin his ministry until fourteen years after Josiah ascended the throne. By then, the young king had already swept the entire nation clean of idols and altars to false gods.
4. The miserable Spiritual Condition of the Country
At the time Josiah became king, the temple in Jerusalem would have been a dramatic representation of where the people were spiritually. God’s house was in ruins – and there was no desire or expectation to repair the damage. The people of his day had gone their own way. They wanted nothing to do with God, and as a result, they had never experienced His blessing or spiritual renewal.
NO MOUNTAIN TOO HIGH
Josiah let none of that stop him. His greatest desire was to dedicate himself wholeheartedly to God and win the people over to him as well. And he did it. He rid the nation of idols. He repaired God’s temple and returned the ark to it. And in the process the Hebrews rediscovered the Book of the Law, which led to widespread renewal of their dedication to God. Josiah’s leadership is summarized in 2 Chronicles 34:33 :
Josiah removed all the abominations from all the country that belonged to the children of Israel, and made all who were present in Israel diligently serve the LORD their God. All his days they did not depart from following the LORD God of their fathers. (NKJV)
It really doesn’t matter what kind of circumstances leaders face or how many obstacles they must overcome. Victory is always possible. But first, leaders must be willing to face their greatest foe: themselves. That’s the subject of tomorrow’s lesson.
QUESTION FOR REFLECTION:
In what impossible circumstances have you accepted defeat?
-from: John C Maxwell, The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day