2 Chronicles 34-35, 2 Kings 22-23
Judah in Josiah's time had fallen as far as Israel into idolatry. Josiah himself came from a family of idolatry. Things had not always been like this. But there had always existed the tendency to turn a blind eye to the idols that the people would bring in. The kings eventually also turned to serve idols rather than God.
Josiah's great-grandfather, Hezekiah was a good king who, "did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan). He trusted in the LORD the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses." (2 Kings 18:3-6)
However, Hezekiah's son, Manasseh, was a wicked king who rebelled against his father and the one, true God. He even went so far as to defile the Temple that Solomon had built by setting up idols of false gods in it. Later in life, Manasseh repented of his sin and turned back to the God of his father.
When Manasseh died his son, Amon, reigned as king in Judah. Amon did all the sins of his father and continued in them and did not repent, but rather multiplied the guilt of his father, going farther into idolatry, and deeper into sin.
Into this culture Josiah was born. Josiah, as the son of Amon, reigned after the death of Amon. At the age of eight, Josiah began his reign in Judah.
When Josiah was still a youth of the age of sixteen, he was moved to seek the God of David, his father. The biblical account outlines four areas where Josiah initiated reform in Judah.
Removed the Idols and Altars
At the age of twenty the Bible says that he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of all the false idols, altars, and high places dedicated to the worship of idols. Then he exercised church discipline:-) on the false priests, burning their bones on their own idolatrous altars.
Repaired the Temple
At the age of twenty-six, Josiah continued his reforms by hiring workmen to repair the Temple that had been desecrated and the condition of it had deteriorated to such a point that it was near ruins.
Recovered the Law
While the priests of God were bringing out the money for the repair of the Temple, they recovered the Law that had been given to Moses. This Law had been lost for possibly 75 years.
Reinstituted the Passover
As the priests read the Law they found the part that told about the Passover. The Passover had apparently been neglected for some time, because there is so much given about it. There had never been such a Passover observed from the time of the Judges until that day.
In these examples of the condition of Judah in the time of Josiah, we see many modern parallels within the Church today. The God of Scripture has been replaced with a god of our liking. Since the God of the Bible is not proclaimed, the Word of God is not reverenced or preached with a view towards truth. Since there is no truth proclaimed, the Church has become at best a self-help clinic, and at worst a social club. Membership is regarded as mere social status. Since the Church is no longer the Church, the ordinances God has left us are pushed to the perimeter and are not seen as vital or important in a healthy Christian walk. We are in need of a Reformation in America, and I suspect, also across the world where we have exported our brand of Christianity.