“Thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah.’”
After the terrible, evil reigns of King Manasseh and King Amon, Judah was far from God. Young King Josiah sought to reverse course and sent men to repair the temple. There they found a long-lost copy of the Book of the Law, likely the five books written by Moses.
Josiah heard the words of the book, including the curses God warned would befall those who disobeyed Him (see Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, for example). Josiah tore his clothes as a sign of repentance and sent men to inquire of God about what would happen. God sent His answer through Huldah, one of four prophetesses mentioned in the Old Testament.
God confirmed that calamity would surely come because the people of Judah had “forsaken” Him (2 Chronicles 34:24-25). But because Josiah’s “heart was tender” toward God and because he “humbled” himself before his Creator, God delayed the punishment until after his death (verse 27). Josiah’s example of repentance and turning to God represents the response God wants when He warns us of the curses that disobedience brings.
Josiah diligently tried to reform his nation, but his reforms were short-lived, and soon Judah was again rebelling and breaking God’s laws. The curses did come, and Judah went into captivity to Babylon.
For more about how to follow Josiah’s good example in turning to God, see the section on “Repentance.”