READ: 2 Chronicles 35-36
THINK: Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to do what everyone else was doing-or you wanted something they all had-but your parents disapproved? Perhaps you argued the point until you heard the question: "If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?" While that may seem irrelevant, there's a legitimate point there. Following the crowd leads to destructive consequences. Grasping that fact when you're young will help you deal with a lifelong tendency to imitate unworthy influences. This was a persistent struggle for God's people in the Old Testament as they gravitated toward the evil practices of those around them. Though God warned and rescued them time and again, they failed to learn their lesson and eventually lost everything. Yet, because of God's mercy, this wasn't the end of the story. Decades later, God's people would return to their land with an opportunity to start over.
RESPOND: In light of Josiah's faithfulness, why do you think God allowed him to die so young and tragically (35:22)? What does this indicate about remaining sensitive to God's voice at all times and in all situations? (See 35:22 note.) How did people commemorate Josiah's life, and why (35:25-26)? What empire began to attack Judah after Josiah's death, particularly during Jehoiakim's reign (36:6)? What was one of the reasons the people became more and more unfaithful to God? (See 36:14 note.) What does the fact that they followed "all the detestable practices of the nations," tell you about the tendencies God's people have always struggled with? (See 36:14 note.) Why are people so easily attracted to the negative and ungodly aspects of the culture in which they live? How and why did God repeatedly warn the people? (See 36:15 note.) How did the people respond to God's message and mercy, and how did this seal their doom? (See 36:16 note.) What happened to the people of Judah, the city of Jerusalem and the temple (36:17-20)? What hope does God give at the close of 2 Chronicles? (See 36:22-23 note.)
PRAY: Ask God to keep you sensitive and responsive to His voice at all times. Pray that you'll never compromise your faith to follow the culture. Pray for people you know who are resisting or defying God. Pray that they will recognize their need for God and respond to His mercy. Thank Jesus for the ultimate hope He provides.
ACT: Consider your typical attitudes, conversations, mannerisms, activities and behavioral tendencies. Are any of these questionable or inappropriate for a follower of Jesus? Have you picked things up from the wrong places? Are you imitating ungodly examples? If so, make changes, replacing bad habits with positive, God-honoring behaviors.
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