Sermon Study Guide
We want to be a church that tips the culture of the South Valley toward vital relationship with Jesus. Planting God’s Word in our lives, and seeking ways to multiply that Word in others is a concrete way this vision will happen. Use the background below to aid your study of God’s Word this week.
August 12-18 | 2 Kings 22-23
Background and Context:
Imagine yourself as an Israelite around 620BC (the time of 2 Kings 22). 100 years earlier, the terrible Assyrian empire wiped out the ten northern tribes. 20 years after that they ravaged the southern kingdom right up to the gates of Jerusalem (2 Kings 19); your people escaped total destruction at the last moment by the grace of God.
The religious atmosphere has been just as tumultuous as the political. Spiritually, Judah’s leaders are described as going from bad, to good, to really bad, to really good—talk about whiplash! Ahaz (bad) ruled 100 years ago and even offered his own child as a sacrifice to a false god (2 Kings 16). After him came Hezekiah (good), who tried to turn the nation back to Yahweh (2 Kings 18-20). However, when Isaiah warned Hezekiah that Babylon would one day come and wipe out his kingdom he responded, “Oh well, at least there will be peace in my day.” (2 Kings 20:19)
Following Hezekiah, Manasseh (really bad) re-instated some of the most despicable practices, including child-sacrifice (apparently that was a big temptation?). Amon (also really bad) reigns for just two years before being assassinated, but his son, Josiah (really good!), grows up to be one of the most righteous kings to rule since King David himself. As good as Josiah will prove, it is not enough to save Judah from exile. Two kings and only 11 years after Josiah, Babylon will come and do to Judah what Assyria did to the north.
CONTEXTUAL NOTES FOR 2 KINGS 22-23
For space and focus, this week’s study guide printed a condensed section of the whole story in 2 Kings 22-23. We highly recommend reading through the entire two chapters in your Bible to understand exactly what is going on.
“Josiah did what was right in the eyes of the LORD” The biblical writers evaluate each of Israel’s kings by whether they did “right” or “evil” according to Yahweh. All of the northern kings did evil, and only 8 out of 20 southern kings did right. The description of Josiah, and the actual reforms he leads make him one of the most righteous to rule since David.
“I found the Book” This “book” found by Hilkiah in the temple was most likely the scroll of Deuteronomy, or possibly the entire Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy). Apparently no one had consulted God’s written-word for generations, and while the religious worship of Yahweh continued, the Bible was gathering dust in some dark corner!
Huldah. While it is rare to see a female prophet in the Bible, it was apparently “normal” enough that the author does not seem shocked or make anything extra out of this fact. Huldah was a contemporary of Jeremiah and Zephaniah and this scene is her only recorded act of ministry. Josiah needs someone to help clarify God’s Word concerning what he and the entire nation ought to do in response to the scroll found in the temple, and God sends Huldah with a word of judgment and peace that helps initiate one of the greatest revivals in Israel’s history.
Josiah vs. Hezekiah: It is illuminating to compare 2 Kings 22:20 with 2 Kings 20:19—Hezekiah is offered almost the same promise as Josiah—“peace in your day”—but while Hezekiah responds with complacency, Josiah takes action to reform a nation!
A quick read through 2 Kings 23:1-20 shows just how bad the idolatry and corruption had become in Judah—notice how many were within the temple and city itself! To name a few, there are idols for:
work and harvest (Ba’al)
sex and sexuality (Asherah/ temple prostitutes)
war and national defense (the horse & chariot was the “tank” of the ancient world)
child-sacrifice (Molech and the Hinnom Valley is within eyesight of Jerusalem)
power and politics (Ashtoreth, Chemosh, and Milcom were gods adopted from political alliances in Solomon’s day)
We may not have statues called “idols” today, but looking at that list should reveal just how pervasive idolatry still is in our own communities.
If you didn’t pick up the Study Guides for this month you can download a copy here
The Bible Project has created dozens of quality videos helping churches understand books and themes throughout the Scriptures. Check out this overview of the Prophets as you prepare to experience God’s heart through the men and women called to speak to God’s people:
Check out the Bible Project’s video overview of this week’s prophet:
For further study of the prophets we recommend the following commentaries and Bible Dictionaries:
Goldingay, John. Daniel and The Twelve Prophets for Everyone. Old Testament for Everyone. Westminster John Knox Press, 2016.
Heschel, Abraham. The Prophets. HarperCollins, 1962.
McConville, J. Gordon. Exploring the Old Testament Volume 4: The Prophets. InterVarsity Press, 2002.
The specific prophetic book in either the Tyndale (IVP) or NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan) series.
Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. InterVarsity Press, 1998.
The IVP Bible Background Commentary of the Old Testament. InterVarsity Press, 2000.
New Bible Dictionary. InterVarsity Press, 1996.