The Word for the World

Confidence in the Word

Bible Focus


In our third Bible Focus we invite you to read and examine 2 Chronicles 34.1-36:8. This, according to Jewish tradition, is Ezra's account of the reign and reforms of the young King Josiah, who was king of Judah from 640-609 BC. Its contemporary significance lies in that it offers us some important clues as to God's unchanging principles governing religious revival.

As the passage of Scripture for this Focus is rather long, we do not recommend that you write-out the whole of it. However, we would strongly suggest that you transcribe the portions we have mentioned before considering your response to the questions we have posed.

Questions to Help You Focus on Revival

We invite you to answer the following four questions. All the answers can be found in the passage of Scripture itself. Where we have referred to other scriptures, this is either to confirm or amplify what is said in a certain verse, or verses.

  1. Trace the successive stages of reform during Josiah's reign (i.e. 34:3, 34:6, 34:8, 34:14, 34:19-21, 34:29-32, 35:1 and 35:17-19, 35:2-6). How long did the revival last (34:33)? What was Josiah's fatal mistake and what was the outcome (35:20-24)? What finally brought the period of reform to an end (36:1-8)?

    The closing summary of Josiah's accomplishments in the parallel account of his reign in 2 Kings gives a rather different slant on why the period of revival did not continue after his death (see 2 Kings 23:24-27). Can you reconcile this with the prophetess Huldah's prediction in 2 Chronicles 34:23-28, and are you able to explain how it gives us a more complete picture of the general trend of Judah's history at the time?

    (Like Huldah, the prophet Jeremiah, who began his long ministry during Josiah's reign (see Jeremiah 1:2), also stresses the inevitability of God's judgement on Judah, as in Jeremiah 25:1-14.)

  2. What part did the discovery of God's Word (the Book of the Law) have to play in the process of reform (34:14-21)?

  3. General Application

    What does the passage say to you about God's conditions for revival in our own day?

    [In order to gain a fuller appreciation of the extent of personal reform involved in genuine revival, compare the prophet Jeremiah's statements regarding the spiritual condition of Judah in Jeremiah 3:6-10 with the drastic process required for genuine restoration described in Jeremiah 3:21-4:4 and 7:1-7.

    God revealed to Jeremiah that throughout Josiah's reign, Judah, like her sister nation Israel before her, had continued to commit spiritual adultery and play the harlot by worshipping other gods. The root of the problem was that, despite Josiah's own sincere repentance and sweeping reforms, the people's hearts still remained fundamentally unchanged. Though superficially all appeared to be well, the Lord's own assessment of the situation was that, "Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry" (Jeremiah 3:10).

    As evidence of this, as soon as King Josiah had died, the country reverted to its old ways (2 Chronicles 36:1-16). The inevitable outcome, which Jeremiah had earlier predicted throughout his prophetic career (as in Jeremiah 4:5-9 and Jeremiah 32:26-35), soon followed. Less than a quarter of a century after his death, Judah's decline and fall was complete (2 Chronicles 36:17-21, and compare Jeremiah 39:1-9). Yet even in the darkest days there was a note of hope, as in Jeremiah 32:36-44. 2 Chronicles ends with the beginning of the fulfilment of the promises of restoration (2 Chronicles 36:22-23).]

  4. A Personal Application

    Have you yet discovered God's Word for yourself? What part does it play in your life as a Christian? Do you recognise yourself among those for whom Josiah ordered Hilkiah and the other members of his court to pray? (2 Chronicles 34:20-21) (If you do, then may we suggest you take a further look at our Bible Focus on Lifestyle.)

(Visitors from The Writers' Witness return to Main Text)

If you have found this Bible Focus profitable, we would recommend that you undertake a further similar exercise, by applying the above questions to the parallel account of King Josiah's reign in 2 Kings 22:1-23:30. There are many similarities between the two accounts, but as we have highlighted in question 1, there are also some significant differences. You may like to consider some possible reasons for these differences.

We hope this Bible Focus has helped you to reflect more deeply on the nature of true revival, not only as it applies to the Church in general, but more especially in your own life. As you seek to work out the implications of the history of Josiah's reign in your own life, you will discover your Confidence in the Word increasing as a consequence of your growing desire to obey the Lord.

In our fourth Focus we return to the New Testament to follow the life of surely one of the most endearing characters in the whole of Scripture, Barnabas.

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