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Lesson 3: The Last Five Kings of Judah *

Introduction: We learned that Jeremiah spent forty years warning Judah of impending destruction. During that forty years, five kings ruled Judah. Were they all bad? Why would they ignore God's warnings? What lessons can we learn from them? Let's jump into our study of the Bible and find out!

  1. Josiah

    1. Read 2 Chronicles 34:1-2. The "David" referred to here is King David. Is he Josiah's father? (Read 2 Kings 21:25-26. Josiah's actual father was King Amon.)

      1. Read 2 Kings 21:19-24. How bad a king was Amon? (So bad that his own officials killed him.)

        1. Did Josiah have a godly grandfather? (No. These verses say that Manasseh, his grandfather, also did evil.)

      2. So why are we told that King David is Josiah's father? ("Father" means ancestor. Josiah "walked in the ways" of his ancestor King David. It means he was a good guy.)

    2. Read 2 Chronicles 34:3-5. This week I read that ISIS destroyed the Temple Bel, which is thousands of years old. Is that a good thing? (Josiah is destroying idols which are currently worshiped. This is not the destruction of ancient architecture.)

      1. What could we do today that would be similar to the work of Josiah? (We are not kings, so destroying the property of others presents a moral problem. But, in our own family we should work to limit the influence of evil.)

    3. Read 2 Chronicles 34:8. What can we do that is like the repair work of Josiah? (We can make sure our church is in good repair. More importantly, we can encourage our family to worship God.)

    4. Read 2 Chronicles 34:14-15. While working to repair the temple, the High Priest Hilkiah found "the Book of the Law" that "had been given through Moses." What has this new fact have to do with idol worship? (Not reading the Bible, forgetting God's word, leads us away from dependence on God.)

      1. Imagine how this discovery could change the life of God's people?

      2. Can you think of any parallel event in your life? (Reading a Bible that you cannot understand is a "hidden Bible" problem. Find a Bible version that you can easily read and understand. You will discover God's word!)

    5. Read 2 Chronicles 34:29-32. What is the outcome of Josiah's work? (God's word is now known to everyone in the kingdom. Under his leadership, the people pledge to follow God.)

    6. Read 2 Chronicles 35:20-21. What do you think of Pharaoh Neco's claim to have God on his side?

    7. Read 2 Chronicles 35:22. What does this suggest about the validity of what Pharaoh Neco said?

    8. Read 2 Chronicles 35:23-24. What a tragic and untimely end to the reign of a great man of God. What lesson do you find in this? (We need to be sure that we follow God's will. Some commentators think that Josiah was doing the right thing. I'm not sure we have enough evidence to decide.)

    9. Read 2 Chronicles 35:25-26. Whatever the merit of Josiah's last deadly decision, we see that he is lamented as a man devoted to God. Recall that when we started looking at Josiah, we learned he walked in the way of King David. What have we learned now that helps us understand that truth? (David did not always make the right decisions. Yet God celebrated his devotion to God.)

  2. Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim.

    1. Read 2 Chronicles 36:1-3. Jehoahaz reigned as king for three months. How did the actions of his father, Josiah, who was a great man, affect his life? (Josiah's last decision causes his popularly selected son to lose his throne.)

    2. Read 2 Chronicles 36:4. Why did Neco change Eliakim's name to Jehoiakim? (To show his authority over this new King of Judah.)

      1. Why do you think Neco put Jehoiakim on the throne? (He apparently thought him to be more compliant than Jehoahaz, the choice of the people.)

    3. Read 2 Chronicles 36:5-6. What kind of king is Jehoiakim? (Evil.)

      1. What happens to him? (He is captured by Nebuchadnezzar.)

      2. Who do you think Jehoiakim relied upon to save his kingdom? (Read 2 Kings 24:7. It appears to be Egypt! Relying on humans instead of God, is a foolish idea. See also 2 Kings 24:1.)

  3. Jehoiachin

    1. Read 2 Kings 24:6 and 2 Kings 24:8-9. How long did this king reign? (Three months!)

      1. What kind of king was Jehoiachin? (He was another bad guy - in his three months!)

      2. Is this really a fair test for an 18 year-old?

    2. Read 2 Kings 24:10-12. What ended Jehoiachin's reign? (Judah was invaded by Babylon.)

    3. Read 2 Kings 24:13-17. How big a disaster is this for Judah?

      1. Recall that I asked you to consider whether three months was sufficient to say Jehoiachin was a bad guy? Who was taken to Babylon at this time? (The first chapter of the book of Daniel reveals that Daniel and his friends were taken. Daniel and his friends immediately took a stand for God.)

    4. Read Jeremiah 22:1-5. What is it that these evil kings could have done to turn things around for Judah?

      1. Let's focus on Jeremiah 22:3. What is the general nature of the failure of the justice system in Judah? (That those who are weak, the one robbed, the alien, the orphan, and the widow are victims of violence and injustice. When the law breaks down, the most vulnerable suffer.)

        1. What other problem do we find in Jeremiah 22:3? (Innocent people are being killed.)

      2. Let's contemplate this. How does God punish this kind of failure to be just? (God brings in stronger nations to plunder Judah. The leaders of Judah experience the very same kind of thing they inflicted on those who were weak.)

      3. One of the questions I asked in the introduction is why these kings did not change? What reason would the evil kings have to allow a corrupt judicial system? (No doubt they benefitted or thought they would benefit from it.)

    5. Read Jeremiah 22:8-9. How is this related to harming those who are powerless? (It is contrary to God's covenant. Contrary to the Mosaic law. When you worship a god you have made, your sense of values gets skewed.)

  4. Zedekiah

    1. Re-read 2 Kings 24:16-17 and read 2 Chronicles 36:11-12. What kind of king is Zedekiah? (Again, an evil king.)

    2. Read 2 Chronicles 36:13. If you had to characterize Zedekiah with one word, what would it be? (Rebel. He did not accept God's word through Jeremiah and he rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar.)

      1. Put yourself in Zedekiah's place. Can you explain this? (I suspect he thought that God was not helping, Jeremiah was unbalanced, and Nebuchadnezzer was the enemy. He and the people would do what they wanted because things could not get much worse.)

      2. In addition to being a rebel, what else characterizes this kind of thinking? (He is arrogant and impractical. Ignoring God's word through Jeremiah created all sorts of grief. Nebuchadnezzer squashed him like a bug.)

    3. Read 2 Chronicles 36:15-19. What is the outcome of all of this rebellion against God? (Utter destruction.)

    4. Read 2 Chronicles 36:21. From what was the land resting? (Evil.)

    5. Friend, consider your attitude. Are you a rebel or are you one who wants to listen to God and do His will? Why not decide, right now, to seek and follow God's will?

  5. Next week: Rebuke and Retribution.
* Copr. 2015, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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