The king went up to the house of the Lord and all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with him, and the priests and the prophets and all the people, both small and great; and he read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord. (2 Kings 23:2, NASB)
October 31st, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the castle church door in Wittenberg. This event marks the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. For those who are unfamiliar with this event, here is a brief video explaining the significance of this event:
The idea of religious reformation didn’t emerge in the sixteenth century, however. Examples of reformation exist in the Bible. One famous story is found in 2 Kings 22-23. After a succession of lawless kings, a godly king named Josiah emerged, who sought to reform the nation of Judah. He began by renovating the temple in Jerusalem. As this was going on, the high priest Hilkiah discovered the scroll of the Law there. As it was read to him, Josiah realize just how far the nation had strayed from the law, and it is written that he tore his clothes as a sign of grief and repentance (1 Kings 22:11).
After this, he implemented the precepts of the law in the land, eliminating idolatry, oppressive practices, and other violations of the law. He did so because he understood that God’s law was the ultimate standard for how the people should live, and that blessings would come if they obeyed it (cf. Deuteronomy 28). Sadly, the work of reformation only lasted until Josiah’s death, as his son Jehoahaz turned the nation once more away from the law.
This goes to show that the work of reforming according to the word of God has to be constant, hence the famous Latin phrase Semper Reformanda. Many times, this work is done by a faithful minority against an unfaithful majority. This was the experience of most of the Old Testament prophets, who went against the establishment, including kings and priests. It was also the experience of Jesus and His apostles, who were opposed by the religious leaders of His day. But if these biblical examples are any consolation, God blesses those who stand by His word, even when everyone else is going astray from it. As the Scottish reformer John Knox once said, “One man with God is always in the majority.”