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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!

  1. Family Tree

    1. 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 decisions.)

      1. What kind of father did Manasseh have? (His father was Hezekiah, one of God's heroes.)

      2. Why do you think Manasseh turned to evil?

    2. Read 2 Chronicles 33:9-11. What results from the evil that Manasseh promoted? (Assyria takes him captive and humiliates him.)

    3. 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?

      1. Or, should we say that if the end turns out right, we want to go through whatever God allows?

      2. Is the "hook in the nose" and "bronze shackles" (2 Chronicles 33:11) an example of "tough love?"

    4. 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.

      1. If bad kings can have good sons and good kings can have evil sons, what does that say about the limits of parenting?

      2. 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.)

    5. 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.)

      1. How about your family tree? Can you see the same thing as Josiah could see?

  2. Josiah

    1. 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 turbulent times.)

      1. 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?

    2. 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.)

    3. 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.)

    4. 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.)

      1. 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.")

    5. 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.)

      1. What lesson is there in that for us today? (God is most concerned about our attitude.)

    6. 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 life.)

    7. 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?

      1. 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.)

        1. 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.)

        2. 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.)

        3. 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.)

      2. 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 word.)

  3. Hezekiah Illustration

    1. 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 good lives.)

    2. 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.)

    3. Read 2 Kings 20:12-13. Do you like to show people the nice things that you have? Do you show your nice possessions to strangers?

    4. 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).)

    5. 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?

    6. 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?

  4. 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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