Josiah’s Children, Physical and Spiritual

Physical Sons

Josiah was a great man, an outstanding leader, a man of integrity and spirituality. He deliberately and methodically changed a nation. He was a channel of great blessing to a people who were in dire distress. Thank God for such a man.

There is, however, one black mark on Josiah’s record. He failed miserably in the area of raising his own children. We know he had three sons and each of them had a turn on the throne of Judah. None of them followed in their father’s good footsteps.

When Josiah died, the people knew his oldest son, Eliakim, was bad news for the nation. Through a movement of the people, Eliakim was overlooked and his younger brother, Jehoahaz, the middle son, was crowned as the successor to Josiah. The Biblical record sadly tells us: “He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, just as his ancestors had done.” 2 Kings 23:32. He lasted only three months before he was captured by Pharaoh Neco and taken away to Egypt.

Pharaoh then appointed the older brother to be king. He had his name changed from Eliakim to Jehoiakim (it seems that powerful kings did this to the weaker ones, so that whenever anyone mentions the new name they are reminded of who is really in charge – the one who gave the name). Pharaoh also demanded a large payment in silver and gold. In Jehoiakim’s third year, Babylon came and looted Jerusalem of its wealth and the best of its human resources (Daniel 1:1-4).

Jehoiakim lasted 11 years on the throne. He did terrible things, including burning the word of God (Jeremiah 36). As a result, God allowed for King Nebuchadnezzar, of Babylon, to come and capture him and his wealth and most of the population of Judah and Jerusalem.

Jehoiakim’s son, Jehoiachin, became king but lasted only three months.

The third brother, named Zedekiah, was then made king. He was weak and uncertain of what to do. He asked for advice from the Lord’s prophet, Jeremiah, but he was too weak to follow it. He stayed on the throne for 11 years, but during the last 3 years, Jerusalem was surrounded by the mighty Babylonian armies and the people of Judah were thirsting and starving to death. Even in the very end, he did not turn to God. For some reason, Josiah’s three sons and one grandson who took his place never sought the Lord, never bothered to do what was right and true. This is a very sad end to the Davidic dynasty (though not the very end, since there is still a descendant of David and Josiah who will rule as king (Matt 1:1-16).

Spiritual Children

Josiah’s physical children turned out to be disasters. This type of thing has happened far too many times in the history of God’s people. God does not want us to neglect and ruin our children while focusing only on serving him (1 Timothy 5:8). It is so sad that Josiah caused the nation of Judah to thrive in obedience to God while leaving his sons so ill-prepared to continue his good work.

However, Josiah can be credited with a host of spiritual children who earned their way among the greatest of God’s people.

Jeremiah was the same age as Josiah, but because Josiah made such an early start on his spiritual pilgrimage it is easy to imagine that Josiah’s purity of heart on the throne inspired Jeremiah to give himself completely to God’s service. And that service was reasonably easy while Josiah lived, but it was Josiah’s sons who made life a living hell for him later on (Jeremiah 22:10-11, 18-19; 26:20-23; 36:18-26; 37:11-16; 38:4-6).

Daniel was an outstanding man of God and part of what made him holy and true in a wicked land was the example of a daring, righteous king who reigned when Daniel was born and started school. Daniel was a young man when that arrow struck King Josiah and all of Judah and Jerusalem mourned his death (2 Chron. 35:24-25). Daniel must have received great inspiration from this outstanding king, and when he was caught in the web of Babylonian politics he followed Josiah’s “no compromise” policy completely (Daniel 1:8; 6:3-4, 10-23). Daniel was a superb man who was told by an angel, “The moment you began praying, a command was given … for you are very precious to God.” (Daniel 9:23).

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were friends, fellow-refugees, and co-workers of Daniel. They also were born and raised with the righteous king, Josiah, on the throne. They exhibited courage and great faith when they chose to be burnt alive in a huge furnace rather than bow before a false god (Daniel 3:9-20). The True God used them mightily in the foreign kingdom of Babylon (Daniel 3: 21-30).

Ezekiel was in his early twenties when Josiah died. Three years later he was taken to Babylon along with Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Ezekiel 1:1-2). He was a priest who was then called to be a prophet (just like Jeremiah). Ezekiel spent his whole adult life in the foreign land but faithfully taught and challenged God’s people to live in obedience to their God. His ministry was an essential part of preparing God’s people to eventually return to their land and worship Him alone.

Conclusion: God used Josiah in a mighty and strategic way to save his people from the total destruction they deserved. Other nations taken captive by Assyria and Babylon never returned to their original land. They lost their national identity and were absorbed by the greater nations. The same should have happened to Judah, but God used an eight-year-old boy, who grew to be an outstanding king and religious leader, who purged the land of idolatry, who restored the Temple and reignited the prescribed worship of the True and Living God. God used Josiah in a mighty way to prepare His people for the difficulties ahead. And with the hard work of Josiah’s spiritual children the nation continued as a united people bound together by the worship of the true God.

This is God’s promise to his people when they were about to be taken away as captives to Babylon. “I will certainly bring my people back again from all the countries where I will scatter them in my fury. I will bring them back to this very city and let them live in peace and safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God.  And I will give them one heart and one purpose: to worship me forever, for their own good and for the good of all their descendants. And I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.” Jeremiah 32:37-41.Josiah – Chain Breaker is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in world the through eBook sellers.

Political Turmoil

By a local political analyst.

The year is 640BC. Judah is a small nation surrounded by three greedy superpowers. Assyria to the north, Babylon to the northeast, and Egypt to the south are in an on-going competition to acquire land and to tax foreigners, and to just outright bully people around.

The 10 tribes of Israel to the north were forcibly dragged away to Assyria 80 years ago and remain there as slaves (2 Kings 17:20). This leaves Judah exposed and extremely vulnerable, caught in the middle of these superpowers. Just a few years earlier, Assyria captured King Manasseh (who had been king for decades) and dragged him away in hooks and chains, bringing shame to the whole nation (2 Chronicles 33:11). Sometime later, Manasseh was allowed to return and rule again. But he was a crippled leader ruling a desperate nation. He served for a total of 55 years and upon his death his son Amon was crowned king.

Amon lasted only two short years. He was so evil that his own officials assassinated him inside the palace walls. This desperate deed cost them their own lives. Yes. His own trusted officials put him to death and they in turn were killed for treason.

Amon had no brothers to take over the throne. They had been killed by their father as sacrifices to the “protecting father,” the god Molech. (2 Chron. 33:16).

Talk about political turmoil!

This tiny nation, surrounded by superpowers, is torn by intrigue and assassination and now the only heir to the throne is an 8 year old boy!

Assyria

This is the superpower that defeated and destroyed the 10 tribes to the north some 82 years before. Josiah’s great-grandfather, Hezekiah, was king of Judah at that time. He paid a huge amount of money to the Assyrians to send them away happy. It was “more than eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold” (2 kings 18:14). But, this did not satisfy the hungry lion, Assyria wanted more and they turned to attack Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:17). But God caused 185,000 of their soldiers to die in their sleep (1 Kings 19:34-37) and the whole army ran back to Assyria to hide.

They did not stay away for long. They came back when Josiah’s grandfather, Manasseh, was king. They placed a hook through his nose and dragged him away in disgrace and placed him in prison. He cried to God and God was merciful to him. Somehow, Assyria allowed him to return to Jerusalem as king. But, the Assyrians were still around and creating fear and anxiety among the people of Judah.

Babylon

During the time of Hezekiah’s reign, an envoy from the north arrived in Jerusalem. Hezekiah welcomed them and showed them all the nation’s treasures, the gold, the silver, the weapons and everything. However, God was not impressed with this attitude and sent his servant, the prophet Isaiah, with a message. In 2 Kings 20:16, Isaiah prophesied that one day all these treasures will be looted and carried away to Babylon.

This was to happen during the reigns of Josiah’s sons and grandson,2 Kings 24: 8ff. Babylon at the time of Amon, and then Josiah, was one of the three superpowers and gathering momentum.

In just 11 years these fears will prove to be real when Judah and Jerusalem are attacked by Babylon and then finally falls to their army commander. Another 11 years later King Nebuchadnezzar will bring this Jewish nation to an end, never to be the same again. 2 Kings 24:10; 25:1ff.

Egypt

Egypt was the cunning fox from the south. They knew they could not defeat the other superpowers on their own, but, if Babylon and Assyria fought each other, and if smaller countries would join with Egypt, then Pharaoh could become the most powerful man in the world. This was his ambition.

Judah stood in-between Egypt and the two other superpowers, and they suffered at the cruel hands of all three. It was Egypt’s king, Pharaoh Neco, that fought against Josiah and Josiah was killed (2 Kings 23:29). Neco was simply passing through Judah in order to help Assyria fight against Babylon, but Josiah tried to stop him and lost his life in the process 2 Chron. 35:20-25.

Is there any hope for Judah’s future? The whole world is laughing and talking behind our backs.

Judah’s Location God gave the land of Canaan to the descendants of Abraham. This land is rich and fertile. It is also the place where the great continents meet. Africa, Asia, Europe meet at the land of Israel. It was God’s plan that they live at this centre-point so that all nations could learn about the true God and be blessed by Him (Gen. 12:1-3). However, because Israel constantly rejected their God, they have had enemies on all sides even up to today.

N.B. This book is available at all CBM bookshops in PNG, and anywhere in world the through eBook sellers.

“If God has placed you in Babylon, be a Daniel!”

I simply love this quote. Wow. There’s that nefarious fear. “Everything’s falling apart; going down the tubes; over a cliff into the deep, dark abyss!” What to do with this fear?

Daniel was displaced thousands of miles from home. Lost everything familiar. Separated from his immediate and extended families. He was forced to learn the language of his enemies, study the “wisdom” and laws of his enemies, and prepare for a lifetime of service TO HIS ENEMIES!

It is worthwhile observing how Daniel handled this.

1. He clung to his heritage and inner convictions. 

Normal behavior for captured, displaced young people (as far as I can imagine, anyway) would be to either: 1. Resist and be beat to a pulp, or 2. Say “yes” “yes” “yes” to every instruction. 

Young Daniel navigated a different path.

  • He held onto his background, his beliefs, his loyalty to his people and his God.
  • He determined – against all warnings and advice – to stick to his kosher dietary laws. Dan. 1:8.
  • He trusted that God would enable him to stay pure no matter what the circumstances. Dan. 1:13.

Elderly Daniel, on the other hand, was willing to practice outright disobedience because honoring his Lord meant more to him than life itself. Dan. 6:10.

“Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people.” Pro. 3:3-4 (all scripture quotations are from NLT unless otherwise stated).

2. He found a way to navigate through the evil and remain pure.

  • Daniel went directly to the chief of staff to ask permission to abstain from unclean foods. His request was rejected. Dan. 1:8-10.
  • He then went secretly to the attendant directly responsible over him and his three friends. He proposed a 10-day trial-run with the diet. The physical effects of the diet could be weighed, and the official would decide what was next. Dan. 1:11-14.
  • The Lord honored each participant in this secret scheme. Dan. 1:18-19.

“Trust in the Lord with all you heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Pro. 3:5-6.

3. He developed, even in the oppressive surroundings, his God-given abilities.

Remember! Daniel had been ripped away from his family, his home, his land, the Temple, the holy scrolls, freedom of movement, freedom of expression, all that he knew growing up!

He now found himself surrounded by idol worshippers, amoral leaders, abhorrent foreign practices that directly violated God’s good laws.

Any “normal” person would grow bitter and self-absorbed. He was expected to work hard at learning the foreign language, religion, literature, and laws and customs. And he was to use this knowledge to guide and counsel the destroyer of his people!

The Lord gifted Daniel with a mind that was sharp, a memory that was strong, and a clear understanding of the hearts and minds of people. These gifts set him and his three friends above all the others. Gifts can be ignored or neglected and never become reality, but Daniel added diligence, hard work and discipline, and thereby exceeded all expectations.

“When the training period [three years] was completed, the chief of staff brought all the young men to King Nebuchadnezzar. The king talked with them, and no one impressed him as much as Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. So they entered the royal service. Whenever the king consulted them in any matter requiring wisdom and balanced judgement, he found them ten times more capable than any of the magicians and enchanters in his entire kingdom.” Dan. 1:18-20.

4. Certain things can be left for later.

Consider what we expect or demand from life. What do you really want?  

Perhaps it is safety, ease and longevity. Perhaps outstanding achievements. Perhaps meaningful relationships. Perhaps leaving a mark or legacy. Or perhaps the greatest desire is to be loved, to be known. No one should be judged for having these desires.

However, these outcomes become far more difficult when uprooted against your will to Babylon.

But Babylon, with all its oppression, calls us to hear anew the “table flipping” words of Jesus. “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” Mar. 8:35. These words are exce!!ent. And it can be easier to follow amidst the oppression of Babylon than in a land of peace and prosperity where we tend to get lazy.

Paul and his co-workers tell us that “sacrificing” for Jesus is an investment with the highest return.

“Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles [imprisoned frequently, flogged severely, exposed to death repeatedly, beaten with rods, pelted with stones … 2 Cor. 11:23-27] are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor. 4:16-18, NIV.

Daniel shows us how to grapple with waves of fear, how to see through the fog of disappointment, how to weave through opposition, and how to please a Higher Authority. 

How successful was he in pleasing God? A literal angel was sent from God’s presence with these words to Daniel.

“Daniel, you are very precious to God.”  Dan. 10:11.

“Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven.” Dan. 10:12.

So yes, If God has placed you in Babylon [or wherever you are], be a Daniel!

Prophets’ Showdown

Babylonian Chronicle – News Release

The people of the small vassal territory of Judah have long earned their reputation as shallow, fickle and even silly. Here is the latest news from our unfortunate correspondent assigned to their capitol city, Jerusalem.[1]

Verbal Duel by Two Prophets

The prediction of a Jewish but pro-Babylon prophet, Jeremiah ben Hilkiah, in Jerusalem, came true recently when another Jewish prophet, Hananiah ben Azzur, also of Jerusalem, suddenly died.[2]

Here are the details as best we can figure them out.

Prophet Hananiah had been boldly (and ludicrously) prophesying that “the yoke” of Almighty Babylon over tiny Judah would end within two short years; all the prisoners would return; and their failed king (of a mere three months), Jehoiachin, would re-establish himself on Judah’s puny throne! To demonstrate his prophecy, he broke a wooden yoke that Prophet Jeremiah had been carrying around for months on his own neck. “What!” (you say)? You may want to read the above paragraphs again before you continue reading. These “prophets,” are revered leaders among the Jewish people and here they are acting like spoiled toddlers!

Prophet Jeremiah (remember, he is the one who survived while the other one is dead) had been making a spectacle of himself by carrying this wooden oxen’s yoke on his shoulders. He did this in loud and public demonstration, urging Judah to surrender and submit to the authority of His Excellency, King Nebuchadnezzar. (We, of course, support his message and commitment, while his methodology leaves much to be desired).

It seems the prophet (with shoulders locked in the yoke) interrupted some high-level strategy meetings of ambassadors from five other nations.[3] Such meetings seem rather suspicious from our standpoint and perhaps should be investigated, but the prophet promised that voluntary submission to us would save the nation of Judah and the other nations as well.

The prophet was announcing repeatedly that their king, Zedekiah ben Josiah, should surrender and submit himself and their tiny nation to the yoke of Babylon. (Don’t resist the inevitable, you fools!).

This continued and escalated to the above-mentioned clash. The two prophets had a huge verbal boxing match in the middle of their temple, both prefacing their contradictory statements with the words: “The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says:”[4] It appears obvious that these Israelites and their prophets are a greatly confused people.

Wisecracking Jeremiah said, “Amen! May your prophecies come true!” But everyone knows he is publicly guaranteeing the opposite – that we are going to quash the little bug of Judah. But maybe among these people it is ok to say one thing and still agree with the opposite.[5]

After Hananiah broke the wooden yoke off of Jeremiah’s neck, fiery Jeremiah spoke even more boldly. He said to him, “You have broken a wooden yoke, but you have replaced it with a yoke of iron. The Lord says, ‘I have put a yoke of iron on the necks of all these nations, forcing them into slavery under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I have put everything, even the wild animals, under his control!’” (Three cheers for Jeremiah!!!)

This prophetic showdown reached its climax two months ago, when Jeremiah said, “Listen Hananiah! The Lord has not sent you, but the people believe your lies. Therefore, this is what the Lord says: ‘You must die. Your life will end this very year[6] because you have rebelled against the Lord.’”

And sure enough, the news of Hananiah’s sudden death has caused panic and paralysis among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. It seems that this news has also been relayed to the surrounding countries and they too are trembling.

Further investigation has revealed that prophet Jeremiah has often been accused by his fellow countrymen as a traitor. They accuse him of accepting bribes from Babylon to push a pro-Babylonian policy. However, Jeremiah is a man of great integrity who can neither be bought nor swayed by threat. This is shown by the fact that his preaching has often brought peril to his own life, but he will not compromise.

Prophet Hananiah’s sudden death has proven to the inhabitants of Jerusalem that Jeremiah is a true and genuine prophet of God.

An autopsy was performed on Hananiah but failed to reveal the cause of death. Many religious leaders in Jerusalem believe that his death is attributed to making false prophecies in the name of Israel’s God.

Things to Note

1. Indeed, the cause of death was Divine judgement, a judgement Hananiah should have known was coming, Duet 18:20-21. Both men claimed to be speaking the words of “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (Jer. 28:2, 27:19). Only one could be speaking the truth.

2. Hananiah’s death was a God-given prophetic sign that should have stunned Zedekiah and all the people, causing them to submit to the call of surrender and be spared from death and destruction. But this sign, like so many others, was rejected outright.


[1] Obviously, a foreign correspondent is going to have biases and slanted agendas in what they write for their own people.

[2] Details of this spectacular showdown can be found in Jeremiah 27 and 28.

[3] Jer. 27:3-6.

[4] Jeremiah 27:4, Hananiah 28:2, Jeremiah 28:14.

[5] This is correct. Jeremiah was on public record repeatedly announcing the upcoming destruction. However, his heart favored the opposite which is what his nemesis was announcing.

[6] Poor Hananiah won’t live long enough to see his prophecies “fulfilled.”