We are continuing our Scripture reading in 2 Chronicles, and also introducing the brief prophetic book of Zephaniah. This is the first of two devotionals for Saturday, April 2, 2022. A second devotional will consider Zephaniah 1.
The setting of our study in 2 Chronicles finds us in the midst of the reformation led by Josiah, the last good king of Judah. 2 Chronicles 35 is a parallel record of an earlier Scripture reading in 2 Kings 23.
The Revival of the Passover (35:1-19)
Josiah had publicly read the book of the law to “all the men of Judah” (34:29-30), and he and the people had renewed Israel’s covenant with the LORD (34:29-33; 2 Kings 23). After purging the Temple and the land of “all the abominations” (34:33), Josiah renewed the keeping of the Passover in Judah (35:1).
2 Chronicles 35 expanded on the instructions and preparations for the Passover that were recorded in 2 Kings 23:21-22. Commanding the priests to “their charges” (35:2), Josiah spoke to the Levites to follow the instructions king David and Solomon his son had given (35:3-5). The king provided 30,000 sheep and goats for the Passover offerings, and 3,000 bullocks (cattle, 35:6-7). The leaders and priests followed the king’s example (35:8), giving 2,600 sheep and goats for the Passover offerings, and 300 cattle (35:8). The heads of the Levite families also gave 5,000 sheep and goats, and 500 cattle (35:9).
The celebration of the Passover was recorded, following the instructions for its observance as it was “written in the book of Moses” (35:12). Musicians contributed to the solemn tone of the Passover, even as the porters stood at the gates of the Temple Mount (35:15). Obeying the law, “the children of Israel that were present kept the Passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven days” (35:17). King Josiah’s observance of the Passover was unparalleled in the era of the kings in Israel (35:18-19).
The Death of King Josiah (35:20-27)
Tragically, our study of the life and reign of Josiah ends on the battlefield. Thirteen years after the great Passover, Josiah made the fateful decision to battle with “Necho king of Egypt” (35:20). There is no evidence that Josiah consulted with the LORD. Instead, he set his face to go to war, even when the king of Egypt urged him to retreat, saying, “What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day…forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not” (35:21).
Josiah did not heed the warning, and disguised himself so he would not be identified on the battlefield. However, Josiah’s plan was to no avail, for he “came to fight in the valley of Megiddo. 23 And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded” (35:23-24).
A Great Lamentation: The King is Dead (35:25-27)
The prophet Jeremiah recognized the death of Josiah was a great loss for Judah (35:25). We learn, even a nation of wicked people will take notice when a good man has died. A law was passed and a lamentation written that all would grieve the death of the king, and remember “his goodness, according to that which was written in the law of the Lord” (35:26).
Closing thought – In my opinion, Josiah made a foolish decision to meddle in a battle that was not his to fight. In so doing, he violated a proverb that sates, “He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, Is like one that taketh a dog by the ears” (Proverbs 26:17). In other words, being a busybody in someone else’s disagreement is dangerous (in Josiah’s case, it resulted in his death).
On a concluding note, I invite you to consider how Josiah was remembered, for it was “his goodness,” his obedience to the “law of the LORD,” that was his lasting memorial.
How will you be remembered?
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith