Today’s reading takes us into Daniel, but the story of Daniel does not really occur until 2 Kings 24 during the reign of Jehoiakim. It will involve the first exile to Babylon. There were three in all. Daniel is taken on the first one which takes place in 605 B.C. (2 Kings 24:1-4) and Ezekiel is taken on the second one in 597 (2 Kings 24:8-17). Jeremiah does his work during the time that begins with today’s reading about Josiah and continues nearly to the end of 2 Kings 25. While Jeremiah is working in Judah, Daniel and Ezekiel are working in Babylon.
In 2 Kings 23, you get a feel for how far from God His people had wandered: idols set up in God’s temple, widespread worship of the stars, images in the temple set up to honor the planets (sun). The chapter is a compendium of the different ways Judah had found to enhance, modify, alter, and, in essence, leave the way of the Lord. Jerusalem itself had become a veritable capital of ecumenism – the effort to unite people of all religious faiths by making them all equally acceptable.
God, however, is not a fan of ecumenism.
Christian people can read this chapter with some horror that God’s people would be so embracing toward paganism. But Christianity has its own paganism. When people rearrange, modify, or even ignore God’s plain statements about what He wants regarding our worship, faithfulness and lifestyle in an effort to make all branches of the Christian faith equally viable and acceptable, it’s the same thing Judah was doing. It only looks different because the whole process is cloaked in a ragged garment called Christianity but bearing only a token resemblance to real Christianity at all. Christian people do this in order to promote “peace.” This way of peace may calm conflict between Christian people, but it only stirs up conflict with God. God’s plain way is knowable, and must be followed to the exclusion of all others.