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Sabbath School Lessons on Jeremiah
About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 8: Josiah's Reforms *
Introduction: Solomon says that wise people, just like foolish and
senseless people, die and leave their wealth to others. Psalms 49:10.
We are in life together with all sorts of people who cause all sort
of different things to happen to us. Josiah was God's man, but his
young life was turbulent, and he was killed at an early age in
battle. How do we make sense of these things? Let's dig into our
study of the Bible and see what we can learn!
- Family Tree
- Read 2 Chronicles 33:1-3. Notice that Manasseh was twelve
years old when he became king. Is that old enough to make
responsible decisions about God? (He reigned for 55 years.
At some point he became responsible for these terrible
- What kind of father did Manasseh have? (His father
was Hezekiah, one of God's heroes.)
- Why do you think Manasseh turned to evil?
- Read 2 Chronicles 33:9-11. What results from the evil that
Manasseh promoted? (Assyria takes him captive and
- Read 2 Chronicles 33:12-13 and 2 Chronicles 33:15-17. If
we are out of step with God, should we be worried about
what happened to Manasseh?
- Or, should we say that if the end turns out right, we
want to go through whatever God allows?
- Is the "hook in the nose" and "bronze shackles" (2
Chronicles 33:11) an example of "tough love?"
- Read 2 Chronicles 33:21-24. Does evil skip generations? We
have Hezekiah who is a good king, Manasseh who is a bad
king who turns good, and then evil Amon as king.
- If bad kings can have good sons and good kings can
have evil sons, what does that say about the limits
- Read Exodus 20:5-6. What does this suggest about
generational good and evil? (I believe that parenting
makes a big difference. Parents can bless or harm
their children by their actions. However, 2
Chronicles 33 shows us that there are exceptions.)
- Read 2 Chronicles 34:1-2. They kept history books - 2
Chronicles is a history book. If the history of the kings
was read to Josiah, what should he conclude? (There is a
connection between obedience to God and a good life.)
- How about your family tree? Can you see the same
thing as Josiah could see?
- Re-read 2 Chronicles 33:24-25. If you were Josiah, would
you be spending your time reading history, or would you be
more concerned about what was going on during your life?
(His father was assassinated, and then the people killed
the assassins and put Josiah on the throne! These were
- If you review the texts we have read, you will see
that during most of Josiah's life a good king
reigned. Manasseh followed God the last part of his
life. This last part is the first six years of
Josiah's life. Josiah's evil father only reigned
from the time Josiah was six to eight years of age.
Is Josiah too young to reason that the turbulent
times coincided with his evil father being the king?
- Read 2 Chronicles 34:3. What impact, if any, did this
turmoil have on Josiah? (People often turn to God during
times of trouble. The text tells us (using a little math)
that Josiah was 16 years old when he sought God.)
- In a previous lesson in this series we studied the events
of 2 Chronicles 34:4-15. In summary, Josiah tore down,
ground up, and burned up everything related to idol
worship. He then repaired and built up the temple of God.
During that repair, the Book of the Law was found. Let's
read 2 Chronicles 34:18-19. Why would Josiah tear his
robes when He heard God's word read to him for the first
time? (Read 2 Chronicles 34:20-22. Josiah realized that
the people were violating God's instructions. Because of
this disobedience, Josiah was concerned (fearful) about
God's attitude towards the people.)
- Read 2 Chronicles 34:23-25. The prophetess Huldah has a
specific message for Josiah - that disaster is coming
because the people did not follow God.)
- What would be going through your mind if you were
Josiah? (This, of course, is what he was worried
about. His reaction is likely, "It's not my fault! I
didn't know. I'm the good guy here.")
- Read 2 Chronicles 34:26-28. God has a second message for
Josiah. Notice what God mentions about Josiah and what He
does not mention. What did God leave out? Why do you think
God left it out? (God mentions Josiah's attitude, God does
not mention all the work that Josiah has been doing to
destroy idols and rebuild the temple.)
- What lesson is there in that for us today? (God is
most concerned about our attitude.)
- Read 2 Chronicles 34:29-33. If Josiah had been promised
that he would not see disaster, why did he do this?
(Because of his attitude. He wanted to promote God's will
with the people. He was not simply out to save his own
- Read 2 Kings 23:29-30. We have also discussed this in an
earlier lesson. God's great hero, Josiah, gets killed in
an unnecessary battle with Pharaoh Neco. Do you know good
people who have died prematurely?
- Why do you think Josiah died in this battle? Why
didn't God protect him? (I think this goes back to
the promise made to him in 2 Chronicles 34:26-28 that
God would not let him see the disaster that was
coming on his country.)
- Let's consider this a moment. Josiah was a good
guy his entire life. Whose fault was it that
his life was cut short? (It was the fault of
the evil people who went before him.)
- What does that teach us about good people
suffering and dying? (Most of the time our
problems are self-inflicted. But, Josiah died
because of the sins of others. This is a
problem with living in an evil world.)
- What about God's role in this? Could God have
let Josiah live a long and prosperous life, and
simply moved back in time the date of
destruction for the nation? (This is the point
to which humans often come, we question why God
did not do things differently. We need to
simply trust God's judgment.)
- Let's look at this from another angle. Read 2
Chronicles 35:20-22. Does this suggest some fault in
Josiah for his own death? (Yes. We can understand why
Josiah would not think Pharaoh Neco was God's
messenger. But, Neco did have a message from God as
shown by the events that followed. I think the
conclusion is that there are a lot of moving parts in
what happens to us in life. Our best course is to
have an attitude of trust in God and obedience to His
- Hezekiah Illustration
- Read 2 Kings 20:1-3. Recall that when we looked at
Josiah's family tree, Hezekiah was his great grandfather
and a good guy. What is Hezekiah's argument that his life
should be spared? (He is a good guy. It is exactly what we
have been discussing as the ideal, good guys should have
- Read 2 Kings 20:4-6. Are you encouraged? You tell God that
you have been a good person, and God extends your life and
protects your job and your country for the rest of your
life. (It is exactly how we hope that things will turn out
when we trust God.)
- Read 2 Kings 20:12-13. Do you like to show people the nice
things that you have? Do you show your nice possessions
- Read 2 Kings 20:14. King Hezekiah does not seem to be
troubled about showing the agents of the King of Babylon
his gold. Why? (Babylon was distant, and God had promised
to protect him ( 2 Kings 20:6).)
- Read 2 Kings 20:15-18. As we know from our study of
Jeremiah, Babylon is the impending threat. It ultimately
destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. Consider again God's
original plan for Hezekiah's death, and how the extension
of Hezekiah's life altered the course of history. What
conclusion should we reach?
- Friend, we all think that our lives are so important - and
so they are to us. But, in the vast scheme of life we are
not that important. When it comes to God's hand on the
future we need to trust Him. Will you decide right now to
trust God's will for your life?
- Next week: Jeremiah's Yoke.
* 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.