(illustration on pg 66 of Live With Jehovah's Day In Mind)
*The following excerpts, (taken from Live With Jehovah's Day In Mind, chapter 5) -give a brief backround of the spiritual situation in Israel prior to Josiah's reign
“Seek Jehovah” Through Worship He Approves
Ancient Israel was a nation dedicated to Jehovah, who gave them a set of precepts that no other nation had received. (Deuteronomy 4:33-35) Yet, by the end of the ninth century B.C.E., the Israelites’ situation had changed so much that God had the prophet Amos tell them: “I have hated, I have rejected your festivals . . . If you people offer up to me whole burnt offerings, even in your gift offerings I shall find no pleasure.” (Amos 5:21, 22)
Back in those days, God’s people claimed to be worshipping Jehovah in the way that he approved. However, many of them were serving pagan gods, such as the Canaanite Baal and the calf images, or were offering sacrifices on the high places. They were bowing down to the army of the heavens while still making oaths to Jehovah. Hence, the true God sent prophets to urge the people to return to him in pure worship. (2 Kings 17:7-17; 21:3; Amos 5:26) It is clear, then, that even for dedicated servants of God, there might be areas needing attention—actions or attitudes that should be examined to be sure that these reflect worship that Jehovah approves.
“Knowledge of God”
You might wonder, ‘How could the Israelites be so easily lured into disobedience?’ Hosea described the process: “Israel began forgetting his Maker.” (Hosea 8:14) The form of the original Hebrew verb is well-rendered “began forgetting.” The Israelites were not suddenly suffering from amnesia about Jehovah. Rather, over time they lost sight of the importance of worshipping him in the way that he approved. . . .
The prophets tried to help them distinguish true worship from false. “Come back to me with all your hearts, and with fasting and with weeping and with wailing,” God pleaded through Joel. (Joel 2:12) Note: God wanted his people to come to him ‘with all their hearts.’ Yes, the problem involved their heart. (Deuteronomy 6:5) In a sense, they were going through the motions of worshipping Jehovah, yet their hearts were not fully with him. Time and again, he emphasized through the prophets the importance of loving-kindness, justice, and meekness—all of which are qualities of the heart.—Matthew 23:23.
Return To Jehovah
What does returning to God involve? Hosea reminds us of the need not just to “know” God but to “pursue to know Jehovah.” A modern reference work says concerning Hosea 6:3: “There is a marked difference between knowing about God and knowing God. It is comparable to the difference between reading about love and falling in love.” We need more than superficial knowledge about Jehovah. He must become real to us, our trusted Friend whom we can approach freely. (Jeremiah 3:4) Having such a relationship, you can sense how he feels when you act in a certain way, and that is a great help in pursuing worship that he approves.
King Josiah was a fine example in pursuing true worship. Consider further his experience. By the time that Josiah became king, the nation had been ruined by the idolatry, violence, and deception that had abounded during the reigns of Manasseh (his grandfather) and Amon (his father). (2 Kings 21:1-6, 19-21) Zephaniah’s admonition to “seek Jehovah” must have had a positive effect on Josiah, for “he started to search for the God of David.” Josiah embarked on a campaign to rid Judah of idolatry, (when he was 15 yrs old) extending that effort even to what had once been territory of the northern kingdom.—Zephaniah 1:1, 14-18; 2:1-3; 3:1-4; 2 Chronicles 34:3-7.
After this cleansing, Josiah continued to seek Jehovah. He ordered temple repairs. During that work, “the book of Jehovah’s law by the hand of Moses” was found, evidently the original manuscript of the Law. (Josiah was 25 yrs old) How did Josiah react when that book was read? “As soon as the king heard the words of the law, he immediately ripped his garments apart.” He also ‘ripped apart his heart’ and promptly applied what was read. (don't you always wonder if the Israelites stitched their clothes with some kind of special 'break-away' seams, since they were always 'ripping their garments apart' whenever they were upset? lol) He did not try to justify himself, saying that he had already done so much. Do you recall the result of his reform? “All his days [the sons of Israel] did not turn aside from following Jehovah the God of their forefathers.”—2 Chronicles 34:8, 14, 19, 21, 30-33; Joel 2:13.
‘How would I have reacted?’ you might ask. Would you, like Josiah, have listened to the words of the prophets and made the needed changes in your actions or thinking? Although we do not live in the days of Zephaniah and Josiah, we can see the need to respond to God’s messages and counsel today. So if a Christian feels in his heart the need to adjust his way of life or worship, a consideration of the 12 prophets can serve as a personal wake-up call.—Hebrews 2:1.
*I love Josiah...more men need to be like him! lol =) His decisive action and lack of 'luke-warm' fence-sitting, reminds me alot of my grandpa...since he didn't allow previous family traditions & religious customs to prevent him from doing the right thing when he saw that there were changes he needed to make after learning the truth. (And I just realized that his individual decision to take action, actually helped pave the way for 3 generations of his family to learn the truth, as well as members of his 'in-laws' families, and other Bible students he taught). It really does have a ripple effect.
*sidenote* For anyone who has the goal this year of reading the entire Bible all the way through, but has had a hard time sticking with it before, or doing the cover-to-cover method,...the 'Live With Jehovah's Day In Mind' book is awesome for helping out with that. I had a hard time getting into a regular routine in the past, and would find myself skipping around alot if I got bored reading a particular account for too long, but this book was a like spiritual catalyst for me. Two reasons why:
First -If you read it in conjunction with the Bible books of the 12 minor prophets (Hosea - Malachi) it really helps bring those accounts to life in a vivid way, and elaborates on them from a very practical, modern-day standpoint.
Second -Every one of those 12 books are brief,...(apprx 60 pages altogether), so you can finish them quickly. But they are also action-packed and full of prophecy which makes them quite interesting...especially since the info ties together with other books of the Bible. So I found that reading 'Live With Jehovah's Day In Mind' as an additional reference aid, helped me get the most out of those Scriptural accounts during my personal study and research time. Plus, that 'initial motivation' is what really got me in the habit of daily Bible reading, and now I get cranky if I go without it. haha ...seriously, I do! =)