Posts Tagged ‘Josiah’

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.

2 Chronicles 34

2 Chronicles 34 has Josiah taking the throne at 8 years old and he reigned for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left”.  Here is a young boy that comes to the throne following a king who did the exact opposite.  But Josiah doesn’t just begin to return to God, he is somewhat like Hezekiah a few generations earlier with a steady focus of obeying God.  “He began to purge Judah and Jerusalem….broke down the altars and beat the Asherim and the images into powder and cut down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel”.

Josiah was not partially in to following God.  Scripture tells us he “took away all the abominations from all the territory”.  He cleaned things up completely and led the people to walk with God.  He put a team in place to restore the House of the Lord, and used skilled workers to repair the damage.  He used the money that had been previously gathered and was there to pay people to do the work.  “While they were bringing out the money that had been brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given through Moses”.  It had been some time since God’s Word had been seen or heard.

But that changed as Josiah is having things repaired and they come across it.  “When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes”.  Josiah was impacted by God’s Word.  That is what happens when we actually dig in – God’s truth always touches us.  In Josiah’s case, it caused him to reach out to a prophet and find out God’s heart.  The sin of the land was heavy, and God tells him that the nation will be punished.  But there is a bright spot as God says “because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard his words….I also have heard you”.

God is going to bless Josiah for his repentance.  But Josiah wants to do more for his people so “he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord”.  He takes action.  He makes God’s Word central.  “The king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book”.  Josiah not only makes God central in his life, but for his people too.  And unlike so many, he finished strong.  “All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord”.  Oh that we could all have that written about us!

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