2 Chronicles 35

2 Chronicles 35 has Josiah keeping the Passover.  The last time it had been kept was by Hezekiah some generations earlier.  Josiah understood that it would take an enormous amount of planning and work to properly conduct this Passover. The priests needed to be ready and encouraged for this.  He tells them to “slaughter the Passover lamb, and consecrate yourselves, and prepare for your brothers, to do according to the word of the Lord by Moses”.

One of the main features of the Passover was the sacrifice of a lamb for each household. This meant a substantial amount of work for the priests.  Josiah had to organize the priests and the other workers to be ready.  “So all the service of the Lord was prepared that day, to keep the Passover and to offer burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord, according to the command of King Josiah”.  The phrase ‘the service of the Lord was prepared’ is a rare but significant phrase occurring additionally in the Old Testament only one other time, meaning that everything had been done exactly as God required.  Josiah had the details right.

Then scripture says this: “No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet”.  This Passover was remarkable for several reasons:

  • It was remarkable in its size. ‘All Judah and Israel’ came to participate
  • It was remarkable in its strict obedience to the Law of Moses
  • It was remarkable in the way it shined amidst the dark years in Judah’s history

Josiah is doing an amazing job of leading his people.  But wait for it…..he misses something very important and fails to finish strong.

“Neco king of Egypt went up to fight….and Josiah went out to meet him”.  Josiah makes a mistake here.  He gets in the middle of a war between Egypt and Assyria.  It wasn’t his battle to fight.  Neco “sent envoys to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, king of Judah? I am not coming against you this day, but against the house with which I am at war”.  King Neco makes it clear this is not a battle with Judah at all.  He goes further warning Josiah that “God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you”.

It really can’t get a lot plainer than that.  God sent Neco to deal with the Assyrians.  Josiah gets in the way.  And Neco politely warns him to stay away.  Unfortunately though, Josiah doesn’t listen to God’s message.  “Josiah did not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to fight with him. He did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God….the archers shot King Josiah”.  Josiah is carried back to the city and dies an early death.  Why?  Because he refuses to listen to God.  He dies because of his stubbornness.  His reign was remembered with fondness – he was a good king – but failed to finish strong.

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