A Second Josiah – Part 1

2 Mini Biographies 2 Comments

William Tyndale, a man whose work has impacted countless lives, stood tied to a stake about to die the death of a criminal. What was Tyndale’s crime? His translation of the Bible into English. Moments before his death Tyndale cried, “Lord open the king of England’s eyes!”. Who was the ‘king of England’? Who was this ruler whose law had caused a messenger of the truth to be executed? Henry VIII.

You probably know about King Henry the Eighth, the king who is most famous for his six wives. But you may not know that his reign of darkness was followed by one of brilliant light and that this king, as infamous as he was, unintentionally prepared England for coming reformation.

Henry VIII ascended the throne in 1509, eight years before Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg.  At first, things seemed to go well for King Henry but gradually he lost popularity with his people. One of the reasons for this was that he had no male heir. His wife, Catherine of Aragon, had many stillbirths and their daughter Mary was the only one of the children who survived.  The people did not want to be ruled by a woman and Henry VIII himself was beginning to grow tired of Catherine of Aragon.

His attention had been attracted by a young woman in the court named Anne Boleyn. For six years Henry VIII worked to get a divorce so that he could marry Anne Boleyn. Until this time Henry VIII had been a devoted  Roman Catholic and even earned the title ‘Defender of the Faith’. However when he appealed to the Church to allow him to divorce Catherine and the pope refused, Henry VIII had to take drastic measures. Eventually, he caused the English church to separate from the Roman church and so formed the Church of England, making himself the head. It was this action that paved the way for reformation in England.

Free from the Catholic Church’s authority, King Henry divorced Catherine and married his one true love Anne Boleyn. Poor Anne, however, also failed to bear a male heir and after only three years she was accused of treason and beheaded! She was replaced by Jane Seymour and it is said that Jane was the only one of his wives that Henry VIII really loved. Sadly she died when giving birth to the long awaited prince – Edward.

For the remaining nine years of his life Henry VIII grew more unhappy as he divorced, beheaded and married three more women. Many people, including William Tyndale, were executed during Henry VIII’s reign but God began to answer Tyndale’s prayer for four years after Tyndale’s death the ‘king of England’ legalized English Bibles. It is possible that Henry VIII’s eyes were truly opened shortly before his death for as he was dying he said to Archbishop Cranmer, “The mercy of Christ is able to pardon me all my sins, though they were greater than they be.” Although we cannot know for sure, it is possible that this king, famous for his wickedness, received Christ’s mercy moments before his death.

God, in His amazing way, worked through this immoral king’s sin to open the doors for the Reformation in England. In the years following Henry VIII’s death Tyndale’s prayer would be answered even more fully… But that story is for next time.


Woychuk, N.A, The British Josiah, SMF Press, St. Louis, 2001

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  1. Teresita - March 11, 2018

    Thank you so much dear! kisses

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