- Date: November 26, 2023
- Bible Reading: 2 Kings 22:1-10, [11-20]; 23:1-3
- Free Resource: Create My Own Scroll (PK-2nd, NL)
- Unit Theme (November 12—November 26): Our Sin, God’s Faithfulness
- The Point: We are called to repent when we discover our sin.
Although the central figure in this story is King Josiah, I challenge you to celebrate the critical role of Huldah, one of only four female prophets in the Old Testament.
The Last Lesson
This week’s reading from 2 Kings marks the last Sunday of the traditional church year, which has also been designated as the Reign of Christ (or Christ the King) Sunday. Four years ago, I focused my blog post “Who Is Your King?” on this church festival.
This also marks the last lesson in our theme “Our Sin, God’s Faithfulness.” Two weeks ago, we heard from the prophet Hosea from the northern kingdom of Israel, and last week, we heard from the prophet Isaiah from the southern kingdom of Judah. We are staying with Judah this week (as Israel has already been conquered by the Assyrians) and we meet the prophet Huldah.
Okay, Josiah Is the Main Character
So, I put Huldah in the same list as Hosea and Isaiah, even though she isn’t a literary prophet like they were—and she’s even not the main character in any story. What’s that about? This reading is about King Josiah of Judah, his faithfulness, and how he attempted to bring the people of Judah back to God with a newly found scroll. Huldah only shows up in the optional portion of the text: 2 Kings 22:11-20. You can be excused for not muddying the water and confusing your faith formation participants with one more name to keep track of. But I hope you do mention her.
Seeking the Word of God
Josiah was already a faithful follower of YHWH before this episode, probably from his youth. The writer of 2 Kings said:
He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the way of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.2 Kings 22:2
Compare that to what was said about King Ahab a few weeks ago!
His faithfulness led to his desire for a renovation of the temple. The renovation of the temple led to the discovery of the scroll of the Torah. The discovery of the scroll of the Torah led Josiah to tear at his clothes in horror and repentance. It also led Josiah to want to hear what God had to say to him at that time. So, he sent a group to “Go, inquire of the Lord.” And the group did.
Huldah the Prophet
While the narrative is quite brief (and therefore some points hard to assert with certainty), the group on the king’s errand did not seem to have trouble figuring out where to go to hear from God. The group went directly to the Second Quarter in Jerusalem and the home of Huldah, who is undeniably known as a prophet.
And she had a message for them. A message of truth and consequences for the kingdom, and a message of grace for the king himself (though it’s an interestingly stated message for him, as God doesn’t promise him peace and long life, just that he’d die before Judah is conquered. In fact, Josiah died in battle at only 39 years old).
Was This Normal?
We can be excused to think that prophets were a rare commodity in ancient Israel and Judah. After all there are only 16 prophets with books named after them (so-called literary prophets). However, although Elijah and Elisha are the most famous of the “non-literary” prophets, there is mention several times in the Bible about groups of prophets (Obadiah, an employee of King Ahab, saved a hundred prophets from Queen Jezebel’s slaughter, and Saul and Elisha encounter groups of prophets, too).
But how many prophets of YHWH were women? The Hebrew Bible uses the feminine form of the word prophet (nebiah) for five women: Miriam, Deborah the judge, Huldah, Noadiah (false prophet), and the unnamed wife of Isaiah). Given the misogyny common throughout much of history, it seems remarkable (wonderfully so) to me that Josiah’s representatives (all men) had no hesitation to seek out this female prophet to hear God’s word and no doubts raised that what she said was actually God’s word. This should be lifted up, celebrated, and emulated! (Yes, in mainline denominations, women have been becoming more accepted as pastors and higher positions in the greater church, but there is still not parity or equality in treatment and representation.)
Faith Formation Connections
As I mentioned at the beginning, this week’s reading is about King Josiah being faithful to God and trusting in God’s word found in the scroll of the Torah. There are plenty of different activities and study opportunities in that part of the story by itself. But—given the infrequency of female faith leaders in Scripture—I do hope that you include the optional portion of the text and lift up the example of Huldah, a prophet of the Most High God.
In God’s holy name,
Gregory Rawn (Publisher)
During the main Narrative Lectionary year (this year: September 10 to May 19), we provide a free resource download from one of our products to help you in your faith formation ministry. This week, download the activity “Create My Own Scroll” from our Living the Word: Kids (PK-2nd, NL) curriculum, though the activity can be used with all ages!
Order Faith Formation Resources
The Winter quarter begins on December 3, 2023 with the first Sunday of Advent! Did you only order the Fall quarter and need to complete the year? Are you still looking for easy-to-use, theologically sound, and effective resources for the Narrative Lectionary, as well as for the Revised Common Lectionary, and even classic Sunday school Classroom curriculum for PK-2nd and 3rd-6th (check our blog post for a special discount)?
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At Spirit & Truth Publishing, we might just have exactly what you are looking for:
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- Cross+Generational Confirmation
- Resource for the Revised Common Lectionary (2023-2024): Intergenerational classroom.
- Worship and Liturgy Education