And behold, a man of God came out of Judah by the word of the Lord to Bethel. Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make offerings. And the man cried against the altar by the word of the Lord and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord: “Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.” I Kings 13:1-2
This is a prophecy about King Josiah, an awesome king. We can find his story in II Chronicles 34-35. And yes, he did burn the bones of the priests on the altars (II Chronicles 34:5). Josiah was a great king who followed God. When he was about 21 he started to remove all the idols in Judah. Chronicles tells us he broke down the altars and beat the images to powder. He was serious about the correcting the deplorable condition of his kingdom. You can find five things that happen during the reign of Josiah in chapter 34-35:
1) Removal of idols and high places – total destruction
2) Repairing the house of the Lord – rebuilding (the kings had let God’s house go to ruin)
3) Discovery of the Book of the Law – when the king heard the words of the law, he rent his clothes
4) Reading of the Law and renewal of the covenant – the king and people made a covenant to obey God’s law
5) Keeping the Passover – 35:18 says there was no Passover like it since the time of Samuel
Josiah did great reforms in a land that had fallen into dark and rebellious times. As you read the chapters and the short list above you can see the progression of the reforms. I am struck by where Josiah started. We all want to be on number 5, but Josiah could not start there. He had to remove all the detestable idols. And he did it with such tenacity, that the land was totally purged of its deep sickness. Idol worship had been commonplace for many years, and it took extraordinary measures to remove this practice. Burning the bones of the priests does make a statement. Reformation can come to a person, the church, or a nation, but it requires us to burn away the idols in our lives. We can’t skip to the Passover feast. We must start by removing the “images” in our lives. Burn down the high places in your soul, grind it to powder. We must do this first before we can ever repair and restore God’s house.