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Subject: Christian Religious Studies
Topic: Religious Reforms (2 Kings 2:1 – 25)
Lesson Objectives: At the end of the lesson, learners should be able to:
i. Describe King Josiah’s religious reforms,
ii. Discuss the various places of Josiah’s reforms,
iii. Point out similarities between the religious situation in Josiah’s day,
iv. Point possible areas of religious reforms in Nigeria today and their own lives as individuals.
Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign. He reigned for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. He did what was right in the sight of God because he walked in the ways of his grandfather, David. He showed much interest in the things of God. One of his first assignments was the repair and the renovation of the temple. When the book of the law was found in the temple by Hilkiah, the high priest, the book was read to him and when he heard the contents, he rent his clothes as a sign of repentance because he knew that they had transgressed. This propelled him to carry out more reforms.
Josiah sent Hilkiah, the priest, Saphan, the secretary and others to inquire of the Lord through prophetess Huldah, the wife of Shallim. The prophetess said:.” Thus says the Lord, behold I will bring evil upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the words of the book which the King of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and have burned incense to other God’s, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled upon this place and it will not be quenched.” (2 Kings 22:16 – 17)
For King Josiah, the Lord said that because his heart was penitent and be humbled himself before the Lord when he heard the words, his eyes would not see evil and he would be gathered to his people in peace. King Josiah summoned all the elders of Israel and read to them the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord. King Josiah stood in the temple’s pillar and made a covenant to walk with the Lord and keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statues with all his heart and with all his soul.
i. He ordered the priest to bring out all the vessels made for Baal and Asherah and burnt them.
ii. He deposed the idolatrous priests whom the Kings of Judea had ordained to burn incense in the high places of the cities of Judea and Jerusalem. He also brought out Asherah from the house of the Lord and burnt it.
iii. He broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes. (Cult prostitution was a situation where the idol priest made love with some women with the deceitful belief that the sexual act would cause the god of fertility to make the land fertile).
iv. He defiled Topheth to prevent people from burning their sons of daughters as sacrifice to Molech. He further removed the horses the Kings of Judea had dedicated to the sun.
v. Josiah carried out his reforms up to the northern kingdom; he removed the shrines of the high places that were in the city of Samaria which the Kings of Israel had made.
vi. He restored the feast of Passover and commanded to people to keep it as it is written in the book of the covenant. Marking the feast of Passover which had been neglected in Israel even from the time of the judges.
vii. He abolished witchcraft, sorcery, soothsaying, divination and their idols.
King’s Josiah’s reforms were so great that the Bible records:
“Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.” (2 Kings 23:25)
Similarities Between Today’s Religious Situation And That Of Josiah
i. Crimes and various vices are rampant in the church today
ii. There are many corrupt preachers in our society and the church today.
iii. As it was in the days of Josiah when the people were filled with immoral acts, so also we have in our society today people we think are practicing the religion are doing something else.
Significance Of Josiah’s Reforms
i. Josiah’s reforms brought about spiritual revival in Israel. The temple in Jerusalem was repaired and established as the center of worship in Israel.
ii. The reforms made the people rededicate themselves to the service of God.
iii. The ordinances and the statues of God were now made clearer to the people.
Lessons To Learn
i. Josiah showed typical example of a good leader, despite the fact that he was very young when he started ruling.
ii. Although his fathers did what was evil in the sight of God, he did not follow their steps.
iii. In like manner, people should endeavour to emulate good things and abhor evil at all times.
iv. Accordingly, people should not follow bad examples of their elders or predecessors.
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Take a quick test for this lesson
i. Describe Josiah’s immediate response to the discovery of the book of the law in the temple. In what ways is the religious situation today similar to that of Josiah’s time?
ii. Discuss the various religious reforms carried out by Josiah.
iii. Explain the significance of Josiah’s religious reforms.
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