Link: 2 Kings 22:1-13; 23:1-3
Discuss how important God’s Word was to Josiah. Then discuss how important God’s Word is to your family. What are we doing to try to learn more of God’s Word?
Judah's King Josiah (2 Kings 21:26-23:30; 2 Chronicles 33:25-36:1)
Reigned: 640-609 B.C. for 31 years
Character: The Best
Manner of death: Killed in battle by Pharaoh Neco of Egypt
During Josiah's reign, Nineveh, the capital of the powerful Assyria that carried Israel away in 722 B.C., was destroyed in 612 B.C. by the Babylonians. In 609 B.C., the whole Assyrian Empire fell to the Babylonians.
Josiah reigned righteously and followed God completely. The 2 Chronicles account says that he began to seek the God of his father David when he was 16 years old and began to purge Judah of the high places, Asherim, and carved and molten images at age 20 (2 Chronicles 34:3-7). When he turned 26, he found the Book of the Law. One reading had such an impact on him that it changed the course of the nation of Judah and staved off God's judgment on Judah's idolatrous ways for a few more decades.
The prophets Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Habakkuk prophesied during Josiah's reign.
Excerpt from 2 Kings 23
Josiah moved quickly by gathering ALL the elders, priests, prophets (probably included Jeremiah and Zephaniah), and people to read ALL the words of the Book. It may have been the whole Book of the Law which included the first five books of the Bible (also called the Pentateuch with Penta meaning "five"), or it may have just been the sections promising blessing if God's people obeyed and discipline if God's people disobeyed (Deuteronomy 27:15-28). The effect of the reading of God's Word was wonderful. Josiah pledged himself to follow the LORD faithfully with ALL of his heart and ALL of his soul. Then the people followed suit.
His pledge was not just words but was followed up by action. He removed ALL the things connected to worship of false gods that his ancestors had brought into Judah and Jerusalem. What a mess they had made, and what a tremendous amount of work to clear it all out, but Josiah followed through. In the midst of all of this he did not disturb the man of God from Judah in 1 Kings 13:2-3 who had predicted Josiah's future actions and the old prophet from Bethel who was buried next to him (1 Kings 13:31-32).
By the way, the "Hill of Corruption/Destruction" mentioned in 23:13 is the southern hill of the famous Mount of Olives.
Josiah not only abolished idolatry but also reestablished the Passover feast commemorating God's redemption of His people from their bondage in Egypt. It is described in more detail in 2 Chronicles 35:1-19. An explanation of the Passover can also be found in our previous study of Leviticus here.
This has been such a positive chapter, but it ends on a sobering note. Josiah reigned righteously for 31 years (640-609 B.C.), but he was killed by Pharaoh Neco of Egypt in the battle of Megiddo. It is explained more fully in 2 Chronicles 35:20-27.
Reading Josiah's humble reaction to finding and reading the Book of the Law reminded me of this video that I saw many years ago. It is a documentary of the humble reaction of the Mouk people of Papua New Guinea when they heard the Word of the Lord for the first time. Please watch it and weep for joy! Nineteen minutes into it, you will be VERY happy your watched it!
What challenges me about Josiah is that he applied the Word to his life rather than just looked at it and thought it was a very "nice" book to read:
Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.
But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.
(James 1:23-25, The Message)We can do that too. It has been a long time since I shared a Bible study tool with you, but here is something I wrote many years ago about applying the Word of God:
APPLICATION - DO IT!
You know that Nike advertisement: Just do it! Application is the whole point of Bible Study. It is putting God's Word into practice - recognizing the voice of the Lord and responding accordingly.
I considered my ways, and I turned my feet to Your testimonies.
I hastened and did not delay to keep Your commandments.
"The benefit of Bible Study is not derived from the method, the technique, or diligent effort to decipher the text. The benefit is obeying the voice of the Lord, receiving what He says, and putting it into practice" (Search the Scriptures, The Navigators, 1974, out of print).
A good acronym for approaching application is S.P.E.C.K.
Put on your "specks" and "see" how the Scriptures you have been studying can apply to your life!
S.P.E.C.K. stands for:
S -- Is there a SIN to avoid?
P -- Is there a PROMISE to claim?
E -- Is there an EXAMPLE to follow?
C -- Is there a COMMAND to obey?
K -- How can my heart KNOWLEDGE of God increase?
(I did not make this acronym up, but I have never been able to credit who did. I learned it from my discipler who learned it from someone else.)
Some suggestions for making applications:
- Pray - We need His guidance. He knows where we need to grow and will lead us.
- Write it out - It clarifies what you plan to do in your own mind and is a record for reference. It is also helpful to write out a prayer regarding your application. Prayer personalizes the passage.
- K.I.S.S. - Keep it to Simple Steps! Don't make it complicated and set yourself up for failure.
- Be specific - It is easy to say, "I am going to pray more." That kind of application is seldom put into practice. It is far more meaningful to write down, "I am going to spend five minutes of my lunch this week in prayer for my brother's salvation."
- Avoid being rigid or legalistic - Be flexible and focus on what is going on with your heart not what you are "doing." Using the example of praying for five minutes, I might be considered rigid if a coworker or child interrupted me in the middle of it, and I had only prayed for 2 minutes and 30 seconds! Let everything be led by the Holy Spirit who creates time and place. God looks at the heart.
- Be accountable - Applications are very effective when we share them with others. It is part of "stimulating one another to love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24) and also develops true oneness with other believers. We need each other, and another person can often tell us if our applications are unrealistic, unprofitable, or legalistic.
- Memorize - It helps cement it in our heart (Psalm 119:11).
- Illustrate - A story, poem, or illustration can help you to retain the truth.
- Make a reminder - I am very forgetful. Just like the person looking in the mirror of James 1! I have reminders of past applications in full view in order to help me remember that time with God. Right now, I have a card on my window sill that says: "Presence 24/7/365" to remind me that God wants me "in His presence" all the time. I also write things on my shower wall with a bathtub crayon to remind me!
- Pass it on - We build up the body by passing on what we have learned. It also helps to cement the truth in our own life. this can be done with an accountability partner or someone we are discipling. Much of what discipleship is all about is just passing on what you are learning from God to a younger believer. Discipleship delights God's heart, benefits the younger believer, and YOU!
This is a portion of a downloadable handout:
Lord, thank You for the wholehearted example of Josiah and the Mouk people who heard Your Word and responded in obedience! May we have that kind of response when we hear, read, study, memorize, meditate on, and apply Your precious Word. Amen.