Real People: Real Savior: Josiah: Part 4


Matthew chapter 1 lists the ancestors of Jesus. You will learn more about your Savior as we trace through segments of his family tree.

Our physical blessings pale in comparison to the eternal blessings that Jesus won for us.

Thomas D. Kock

“King Josiah is dead!” That would have been the sad announcement to the nation of Judah about the year 609 B.C. I wonder how the people responded.

Fast forward 2,600-plus years. We have so much for which to be thankful, don’t we? We enjoy a standard of living that is amazing. Although the culture of America is decaying, we still freely worship God and can study and share his Word. Most important, we have full and free salvation! How will we respond? I trust that we will respond with humble thanks to God.

But I’m guessing that some who are reading this are thinking, “I don’t feel like giving thanks. I don’t see much for which to give thanks.” Perhaps many of the Israelites felt like that when Josiah died.


Josiah was one of the more remarkable kings. He ascended the throne at age eight—yes, that’s right—after his father, Amon, had been assassinated. Amon had been a wicked, short-lived king. Josiah’s grandfather had for the most part been wicked too. Perhaps we would have expected that Josiah would continue in their ways.

But he didn’t. In fact, the Bible makes this dramatic statement: “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did” (2 Kings 23:25). Wow! High praise!

Josiah put his faith into action. He made major efforts to get rid of the pagan altars. He even went into Samaria and destroyed the altar that Jeroboam had built at Bethel. He traveled throughout Samaria destroying high places (cf. 2 Kings 23:15-20).

When Josiah was 26, he launched a project to repair the temple in Jerusalem. As they worked on the reparations, the workers found a book—the book of the Law! (Most likely it was the book of Deuteronomy.) Can you imagine how evil the land had become that they could lose the Bible, or at least part of it!

When Josiah heard the words of the book, he mourned. How they’d sinned against God! He urged the people to repent. They celebrated the Passover with dramatic zeal (cf. 2 Chronicles 35:1-19). It seemed as if the Israelites finally had a king who would lead them faithfully back to spiritual truth.

And then he died; he was only 39.

Pharoah Neco was marching through Israel to fight the Babylonians; Josiah went out to try to prevent Neco’s advance. Neco said, “I have no quarrel with you.”

Josiah fought anyway. He was mortally wounded. How the people of Judah mourned (2 Chronicles 35:25). Did any of them give thanks?

I’m fairly positive that Josiah gave thanks. He went to heaven! There before the God of grace, I’m guessing he gave thanks more fervently than ever before.


At Thanksgiving we rightly give thanks to God for his rich physical blessings. That’s appropriate.

But those physical blessings pale in comparison to the eternal blessings that Jesus won for us. You have the forgiveness of sins! You have the sure promise of heaven! You have God’s promise that all things will work for your good! None of those things would have been yours if Jesus hadn’t come.

So as you read the genealogy of Jesus, read it with thanks. Through those real people, God brought our very real Savior to this earth, your Savior, the one who conquered death for Josiah, for you, for us all. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good!” (Psalm 118:1).

Contributing editor Thomas Kock, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Atonement, Milwaukee.

This is the fourth article in a nine-part series on people in Jesus’ family tree.



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Author: Thomas D. Kock
Volume 102, Number 11
Issue: November 2015

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