Wrath and Judgment
I confess that I was looking forward to this passage, the account of Josiah's reform in Judah. In my mind's eye, and through the fog of memory, I recall reading through this section of I Kings in seminary and finding some small sense of relief that even though the storm clouds of God's smouldering wrath are about to burst into flame against Judah (using the might of Egypt first, then Babylon), Josiah's reform was a moment of hope. I even recall being relieved when the scroll of the law is recovered after a very young king does "the right thing" and orders the renovation of God's temple along with an order to pay a fair wage to honest craftfolk.
Funny, that is not what I get out of it today. Josiah's reform is clearly too little, too late. His purge of the high places, altars dedicated to not-God and active assembly the accumulated sins of his fathers and predecessors only buys him a life without exile...and that life is cut short in a conflict with the Pharaoh Neco: small consolation.
What is apparent, and exhibited for our edification, is another moment for us to bear witness to just how admit can get when generations of God's people not only forget God, but also evidently hold God in contempt. From Jeroboam to Manassah, and aside from a few, momentary hiccups of fidelity, both the sins of the people and their leaders and the wrath of God have been building toward a tragic denouement. The judgement means exile...not if, but when.Generations
It is hard to arrive at these readings...harder still to bear witness to the sorrow, pain and loss the people felt who were responsible for paying the debts of their ancestors...and heartbreaking to see Jerusalem itself reduced and destroyed, and its people transported.
What is important to remember?
This is only the middle of the story.