Year of the Bible – 2 Chronicles 34:1-36:23




The king stood . . . and renewed  the covenant in the presence of the Lord – to follow the Lord . . . with all his heart and soul. – 2 Chronicles 34:31

King Josiah was a most beloved king to the people of Israel. Not only does God’s Word commend him by saying: “He walked in the ways of his father David”, but it adds, “not turning aside to the right or to the left.” (34:2) Josiah kept his focus, sought to reform his nation and the true worship of Israel, and did not let himself be distracted from this high and noble cause.

One of the first things that Josiah did was to restore the temple building, the house of God, the place of divine worship. He collected funds from all the people, and with the money he hired skilled people to undertake renovation. While they were restoring the temple, something ancient and wondrous was discovered. They discovered—rediscovered—the “Book of the Law”, the Pentateuch, the first five books of Moses. Amazingly, prior to this time, things had gotten so pagan, so careless and worldly, that God’s Word was no longer read, heard or studied, and the Bible was lost. Josiah immediately had it read to him.

As he heard it for the first time, he realized just how far astray the people of Israel had wandered from God’s commands. Overwhelmed with great sorrow at what had taken place, he ripped and shredded his clothing to demonstrate his repentance. He knew that he and the people of Israel were under the condemnation of the law and that God was very angry with His people for their neglect of God’s Word.

The king wanted to know the thoughts of God, so he sent for a prophetess, a woman named Huldah (34:22). She told Josiah that disaster was going to fall upon the Israelites, but that since Josiah was repentant, he would not experience this disaster in his lifetime. So Josiah had the Holy Scriptures read to all the people of Israel and they renewed their covenant with God. For the first time in many years, the king and all of Israel celebrated the Passover. Josiah and his officials, at their own expense, provided the entire nation with sheep and goats so that they could celebrate the Passover. Not since the time of Samuel the Prophet had Israel celebrated the Passover as they did that day. How wonderful that God’s people once again had a righteous king to rule over them!

Despite his great faithfulness, however, Josiah made a fatal mistake. The Pharaoh of Egypt brought his armies north to help the Assyrians do battle with the Babylonians at Carchemish. The rise of Babylon as a great power was due to God’s own plan and will, so God spoke through Pharaoh Neco to warn Josiah not to interfere with his battle plans. Josiah chose to side with Assyria—contrary to God’s will—and, in doing battle with Pharaoh Neco, lost his own life in battle. Jehoahaz, his son, became king, but within three months was deported by Neco to Egypt. He was replaced by his brother, whose name was changed by Neco to Jehoiakim. But Jehoiakim was attacked by King Nebuchadnezzar and taken into captivity into Babylon, and along with the king, Nebuchadnezzar also took the sacred articles of the temple. Jehoiachin was put on the throne, but deposed three months later. His uncle, Zedekiah, took his place, but he was an evil king and he did great evil in God’s sight, refusing to humble himself under the preaching of Jeremiah the Prophet.

With no righteous king to lead them, the priests and officials began to grow corrupt. God’s anger was aroused and the Babylonians finally came and destroyed Jerusalem once-and-for-all. A few people were taken into captivity and became servants of Nebuchadnezzar. The rest were killed, the walls of Jerusalem were broken down. All palaces were burned. The people went into captivity for seventy years, until the reign of Cyrus, King of Persia.

Questions – 2 Chronicles 34:1 – 36:23

  1. What words are used to emphasize the faithfulness of Josiah as he sought to reform both church and state?
  2. What did Josiah rebuild as the first act of reform?
  3. What was it that the priests discovered in their renovations?
  4. What was God going to do to His people because of their neglect of the Word of God and His commands?
  5. What special privilege did God give to Josiah because he was repentant?
  6. How did Josiah die?
  7. What foreign king destroyed Jerusalem?
  8. What king liberated the Jews living in captivity in Babylon?

© John W. Fiene | Artwork by Brian McFarland