Then the king instructed Hilkiah the high priest and the priests of the second rank and the Temple gatekeepers to remove from the Lord’s Temple all the articles that were used to worship Baal, Asherah, and all the powers of the heavens. The king had all these things burned outside Jerusalem on the terraces of the Kidron Valley, and he carried the ashes away to Bethel. He did away with the idolatrous priests, who had been appointed by the previous kings of Judah, for they had offered sacrifices at the pagan shrines throughout Judah and even in the vicinity of Jerusalem. They had also offered sacrifices to Baal, and to the sun, the moon, the constellations, and to all the powers of the heavens. The king removed the Asherah pole from the Lord’s Temple and took it outside Jerusalem to the Kidron Valley, where he burned it. . . .
Josiah brought to Jerusalem all the priests who were living in other towns of Judah. He also defiled the pagan shrines, where they had offered sacrifices—all the way from Geba to Beersheba. He destroyed the shrines at the entrance to the gate of Joshua, the governor of Jerusalem. This gate was located to the left of the city gate as one enters the city.
(2 Kings 23:4-6, 8)
Judah had fallen away from God and needed to be brought back to the basics of worship. When Josiah realized the terrible state of worship in Judah, he did something about it. The Asherah pole had been set up in God’s Temple by King Manasseh (2 Kings 21:7), thus desecrating the temple. Asherah is most often identified as a sea goddess and the mistress of Baal. She was a chief goddess of the Canaanites. Her worship glorified sex and war.
The Mount of Olives in 2 Kings 23:13 is called the “Mount of Corruption” because it had become a favorite spot to build shrines to idols. Solomon built a shrine, and other kings built places of idol worship there. But God-fearing kings such as Hezekiah and Josiah destroyed these pagan worship centers. In New Testament times, Jesus often sat on the Mount of Olives and taught his disciples about serving only God (Matthew 24:3).
It is not enough to say we believe what is right; we must respond with action, doing what faith requires. This is what James was emphasizing when he wrote that “faith without good deeds is useless” (James 2:20). This means acting differently at home, school, work, and church. What will you do this week to show your integrity?