Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin—even that altar and high place he demolished. He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also. Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things.
The king asked, “What is that tombstone I see?”
The people of the city said, “It marks the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and pronounced against the altar of Bethel the very things you have done to it.”
“Leave it alone,” he said. “Don’t let anyone disturb his bones.” So they spared his bones and those of the prophet who had come from Samaria.
Just as he had done at Bethel, Josiah removed all the shrines at the high places that the kings of Israel had built in the towns of Samaria and that had aroused the Lord’s anger. Josiah slaughtered all the priests of those high places on the altars and burned human bones on them. Then he went back to Jerusalem.
The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed. But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the Lord in Jerusalem.
Josiah is continuing his altar-smashing rampage throughout Judah and comes to a tombstone of a righteous man. All week we have been reading that the sins or repentance of the kings lead to the corporate sin or repentance of the people, yet here is a man who spoke out against the evil that surrounded him. The man was a prophet, and being the lone representative of God’s word is a common characteristic in most of the prophets in the Old Testament: Elijah, Jeremiah, Samuel, Nathan. Prophets were sent to God’s people to warn them of His anger, to ask them to repent before He abandoned them. This unnamed prophet had come to warn the people of Judah that they were incurring God’s wrath.
Israel had already been abandoned by God. Judah had traded righteous and wicked kings for generations. Still, God sent his prophets to shake His people out of their stupor. Today, it is the task of the Church to be God’s voice. We must prophesy, not by predicting the future, but by speaking out against wickedness and injustice and leading others back to the covenant.