By the time the boy King had cleaned out the temple, got his people back on track reading the Book of Moses and worshipping the one true God of Israel, Josiah had reached the age of your mother and father. Josiah was beloved by his people but even more important, loved by God. But it wouldn’t be long before Israel’s neighbors began to want all that King Josiah had built for his people with God’s help; their wealth, land and even their children. It was not uncommon back then for the winner of a war to carry off the young and strong of those they had defeated in battle; to become their servants or slaves. King Josiah’s kingdom was not only targeted because of its wealth and prosperity but also because the people of Israel worshipped the one true God and told all who would listen about Him. Israel’s enemies were both jealous and envious of their relationship with God.
Israel, Josiah’s Kingdom, was a nation located between two much bigger and more powerful countries, whose armies were much more numerous than Josiah’s. To the South was Egypt, ruled by King Neco and to the Northeast, the mighty Kingdom of Babylon under King Nebu (Nebuchadnezzar). Egypt and Babylon were at war with each other and both of them wanted what Israel had, so both would attack Israel on the way to fighting each other. If the region of Egypt, Israel and Babylon was a baloney sandwich, Israel would be the baloney with Egypt and Babylon the two pieces of bread. King Neco’s army was on the march to face the mighty forces of King Nebu and unfortunately, King Josiah’s army was caught in the middle to face Neco’s superior forces. As the armies faced each other on the field of battle, Josiah’s general’s told him to return home and that they would face Neco’s forces without him. The generals loved Josiah and were afraid some harm might come to their beloved King in battle. But before Josiah could depart, Neco sent messengers to Josiah telling him, “We have no quarrel with you. Your God has told me not to attack you and that I must hurry along; and if you don’t lay down your weapons, your God will destroy you.”
King Josiah didn’t believe Neco because he knew that the King of Egypt did not worship the one true God of Israel and if he must die in battle, it wouldn’t be because he believed a lie spoken about the Lord God of Israel whom he worshipped and obeyed. Josiah refused to leave the field of battle but at the urging of his generals, disguised himself as one of his soldiers and went off into battle. Josiah fought bravely with his sword and shield but Neco’s army had many archers who filled the skies with arrows which rained down on Josiah and his army like a rain storm. The sky was so filled with arrows in flight; it turned dark as if the black clouds of an approaching storm were upon them. One of those arrows pierced the armor of King Josiah and he called to one of his officers, “Take me away; I am badly wounded.” So they took him out of his chariot, put him in another and brought him back to Jerusalem; Josiah’s home and the city of God’s temple. Josiah died of his wounds and was buried with his fathers, and all of Jerusalem and the entire nation were sad and mourned for him.
Josiah’s bravery and belief in God saved his people that day. Josiah the boy King would forever be remembered as Israel’s last great and good king, a man who trusted God and was willing to die to save his people.
Was King Josiah a hero? Of course he was, because he was brave and showed courage in the face of great danger. But what made him a great and good King was his love for his people and for God. Josiah placed the safety and well-being of his people above and before his own. Josiah was willing to sacrifice himself for his people and to defend the name of God. This is what made Josiah a real hero. Do you think Josiah was afraid in battle, especially when he saw the arrows in flight over- head? Of course he was. Being a hero doesn’t mean you won’t be afraid, only that fear will not keep you from doing what is right. Many years after the battle between Josiah and Neco, a man would be born in Israel who was the greatest hero that ever lived or will ever live. His name was Jesus and he was the Son of God. Jesus would give his life for the whole world, including you and me. He did it because he loves us more than anything or anybody.
Have you ever had to be brave and courageous?
Have you ever felt trapped by someone or something and wanted to hide or run away out of fear? Did you?
Did you know that God wants to help you when you feel trapped or afraid? Have you ever asked for His help
Do you know someone who is a hero…someone who loves you and wants to protect you at all cost?