Josiah & The Last Kings of Judah

In these last two verses of 2 Chronicles, we cover A LOT of material. We cover Josiah and the other kings, but there are lots of things I’ve left out, but hopefully, I cover it here with plenty of study room, should you decide to pause and reflect here for a few days. These chapters are rich with nuggets of history, important names, important battles, and genealogies as well. It’s hard to cover in a single post. Still, we’ll dive in and see what we can figure out!

In Case You Missed It…

If you click HERE, you’ll find my last Blogging Through The Bible Post, covering 2 Chronicles 27 & 28.

Angela’s next addition to her own page over at No Longer Lukewarm is located HERE.

Tammy covered the next in line on her own blog, Grandma Mary Martha HERE.

And finally, Tatiana brings us up to where we are now with her post on the musings of mum, HERE.

Josiah Celebrates Passover: Chapter 35

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD…

Psalm 33:12

It may be an unpopular thing for me to say, but I just love the fact that Josiah did not “ask” the people if they would LIKE to celebrate Passover. He didn’t ask their opinion, whether they thought it was the right thing to do, or if it would offend anyone. And they certainly didn’t take a vote.

The king KNEW that to allow the ungodly to have a say would be to go AGAINST the very Word of God. And Josiah refused to allow that. No, he put things in such great order that no Passover before or after could compare.

Josiah in the Planning Stages

Hezekiah held the last great Passover. But they couldn’t celebrate it during the first month, as Moses had appointed in Numbers chapter 9. Some had not properly sanctified themselves, so Hezekiah had to hold his Passover, according to 2 Chronicles 30, during the second month instead.

Josiah realized how much planning should go into this celebration. He wanted to make sure everyone was in their proper place. More so than that, he wanted the ARK back in its respective place as well. He learned that the previous administration had removed it from its rightful place in the temple. That would be where it could take its rest.

The Generous Contributions of Josiah

Each household would need a lamb for the Passover sacrifice, according to Exodus 13. To make sure that the Passover was not improperly celebrated, Josiah gave thirty thousand lambs (it could also have been goats, or a combination of the two) and three thousand cattle. It says a lot about Josiah, that he gave these sacrifices and bore the entirety of the expense himself. In fact, it was more than twice the offerings Hezekiah provided for his own Passover, back in 2 Chronicles 30:24.

Josiah and the Sanctity of the Service

In verse 10, we see the term “the service was arranged” which means that Josiah did every single thing in exactly the way God asked. It’s a thought that is reflected also in 2 Chronicles 8:16 and again in 2Chronicles 29:35. The phrase is rare, significant, and says that Josiah had no intentions of getting this wrong!

The Passover Slaughter

During Josiah’s Passover, the heads of the households could no perform these sacrifices. On the Levites could do so, which was a sharp contrast to Hezekiah’s service. However, it was in perfect alignment with Moses Law in Deuteronomy 16:

Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee: But at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 16:5-6

Roasting the Passover

Once the sacrifices were slaughtered, they were then roasted, according to the specific ordinance. Each household in the nation had their own Passover meal, roasted by fire. The correct order was that portions were first prepared for the people, then the priests, and then the Levite leadership.

Josiah Held A Grand Passover

There were no laws in Moses’ teachings regarding singers or a worship service during the Passover celebration. But Josiah made sure the community got to commemorate this meaningful and memorable celebration anyway.

At the same time, he made sure security was covered, even during this massive celebration. He set gatekeepers at every gate, and not once did they leave their stations. However, the Levites did prepare portions for those gatekeepers as they stood guard, ready and alert at all times.

All In One Day

It wasn’t out of the ordinary, but rather a result of amazing planning, hard work, and exceptional organization that this massive number of sacrifices were all prepared in one day. They wanted to be completely obedient to Moses commandment concerning the Passover:

And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying, Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season. In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover. And they kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the first month at even in the wilderness of Sinai: according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.

Numbers 9:1-5

Not Since the Days of Samuel the Prophet

In order to find a Passover so joyfully kept and so well organized, one had to look back before David’s time. Josiah had made this Passover one to remember. It was particularly remarkable because:

  • Both North and South, or in other words, both Judah and Israel, had come together to celebrate this massive Passover. Even Hezekiah’s celebration wasn’t this big!
  • It was truly a light shining out of the darkness of those particular years in the history of Judah.
  • It was carried out according to strict adherence to the laws of Moses.

Josiah Battles Necho

As the Assyrian Empire declined, and the Babylonian Empire rose, the Assyrians joined forces with Egypt in order to, hopefully, protect themselves from Babylon. When King Necho, King of Egypt, came up against Carchemish, Josiah decided to come against him. However, King Necho explicitly told him that his battle was not against Judah, a warning that actually came from God Himself. And Josiah refused to listen.

Josiah was attacking as a means to support Assyria, which he had no business doing in the first place. It must surely have been some kind of political move, for an advantage point, but the prophets always warned against this kind of thing. Necho even stated plainly that God was with him, and warned Josiah not to meddle with God. Now, it’s likely that Necho was speaking of one of his own heathen Gods, unwittingly speaking to the divine plan of the One True God instead.

Josiah Dies

Because he failed to see that it was actually God speaking, and not Necho’s own selfish desire, Josiah disregarded the warning. He disguised himself in battle, received a fatal wound by archer fire, and died. There is no mention that he prayed before entering the battle. It wasn’t “faith” to go forward, or else he wouldn’t have needed to disguise himself. And so his act was completely irrational, resulting in his death.

In Zechariah chapter 12, there is mention of a battle in the valley of Megiddo. It speaks of the mourning for Josiah, and it seems to speak to this battle where he was killed. It’s interesting to note that this particular battle received substantiation in an archaeological dig in the ruins of the site.

It’s interesting, as well, to note the likenesses between Josiah’s death and Ahab’s death in 2 Chronicles 18. Each king went forth in disguise, each was fatally wounded by archers, and each stated that they were wounded and laid in a chariot prior to death. It’s sad that Josiah’s final end was the same as that of someone who staunchly HATED the Lord.

Josiah Remembered

The people remembered Josiah with fondness, probably because he was the last “good” kind of Judah. Still, they managed to turn away from God quickly after he died. It shows, quite plainly, that the reforms made under his rule were not a complete turning away from sin and fully devoting to God. They were only the result of the love a country dedicated to their leader. And once that leader was gone, so was their reason to be devoted to God.

Jerusalem Falls: Chapter 36

After Josiah’s death, “the people took” Jehoahaz, Josiah’s son, and made him king. Now, this is significant because Josiah’s sons Johanan and Eliakim were both older than Jehoahaz. It was by the preference of the people, and not the anointing of God, that made him king. In fact, in Matthew chapter 1, he doesn’t even appear in the lineage of Jesus. It seems God did not recognize this popular vote as a true successor in the kingdom.

Jehoahaz’s reign was only 3 months, however, before the king of Egypt took him out, placed a land tribute on the country, and made Eliakim the king instead. The Egyptian king renamed him Jehoiakim.

Jehoiakim’s Reign

Jehoiakim was 25 years old when his puppet-king reign started. 2 Kings 23 tells us that he heavily taxed the people and gave the money to Egypt, per his requirement. While his entire reign was a literal placement for Necho’s own taxation, Jehoiakim himself used forced labor and wasted resources to build a new palace. The story unfolds in grim detail in Jeremiah chapter 22.

Jehoiakim didn’t even come close to walking according to God’s Word as his father Josiah had done. Jeremiah 36 talks about some of the ungodliness under his hand, including burning one of God’s scrolls and the murder of Urijah the prophet (Jeremiah 26).

King Nebuchadnezzar Takes Interest

Because of the placement of Judah with regard to Egypt and Assyria, Nebuchadnezzar’s only intention for the country was to conquer it, making it completely loyal to Babylon. But he had other things to deal with first.

Egypt’s Pharaoh invaded Babylon, after which Nebuchadnezzar quickly defeated them in Carchemish. He went on to chase after the retreating army, all the way to Sinai. He then subdued Jerusalem, taking away one of Egypt’s loyal kingdoms.

Sometime after this, Nebuchadnezzar’s rampage stopped short as he found out his father had died. Covering about 500 miles in roughly two weeks, which was an amazing coverage in those days, he only took the time to snatch a few captives, including Daniel and his friends, as well as a promise of complete loyalty from Jehoiakim.

Jehoiakim Bound and Carried Away

We find Jehoiakim bound in bronze fetters with the intention of export to Babylon. You can get more of that story in 2 Kings 24, which tells of his rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar. You can find even more of this story in Jeremiah 22, which tells of his burial outside of Jerusalem instead, disgracefully.

Jehoiachin Begins His Reign

There is some discrepancy between 2 Chronicles 36:9, here, and 2 Kings 24:8. Here in verse 9, it says Jehoiachin was EIGHT years old when he began to reign, but in 2 Kings it says he was EIGHTEEN. According to the Hebrew MSS, Syriac, and Arabic, it also reads “eighteen” so many believe this to be a simple error in the transcription of the Chronicles.

At any rate, it is noted that he, too, did evil in God’s sight. After only three months of reign, Zedekiah, his uncle, replaced him. He had no sons to reign after him.

Zedekiah’s Reign

It was again Nebuchadnezzar’s appointment of a puppet king in Zedekiah that kept Judah’s submission solidified. At twenty-one years old when he started his reign, he did evil in God’s sight, especially when he would not humble himself to the prophet Jeremiah.

It wasn’t just Jeremiah that he rebelled against though. He also rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah told him plainly that he wouldn’t win in an attempt against Nebuchadnezzar, but he went on to fight anyway. In the end, everything fell.

The Stages of Jerusalem’s Fall

It wasn’t one big battle or loss that caused the final fall of Jerusalem. In fact, it happened in stages. A history buff can explain the stages per year in great detail, but it looks like this:

  • Nebuchadnezzar begins forceful relations with the city around 605 B.C.
  • More destruction, compliments of Nebuchadnezzar’s crew, from 601 to 598 B.C.
  • A main siege by Nebuchadnezzar’s army, March 16, 597 B.C.
  • Complete destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

Words From God

And the LORD God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place:

But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy. Therefore he brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand.

2 Chronicles 36:15-17

God tried to warn them. He sent messengers in his great mercy, to no avail. Even in their sinful state, in the midst of their rebellion, God had such love for them. Like a parent who loses sleep over their wayward child, God went to great lengths to try to save them.

But every messenger He sent received nothing but disdain. This was the final straw, sealing Judah’s doom once and for all. Finally, there was no remedy, no relief, no salvation for them against God’s righteous judgment.

Final Destruction

Since Judah rejected God’s OWN compassion, God gave them over to a nation that HAD no compassion. Everything and every possession, gone. They burned Solomon’s temple, which would remain a ruin until exiles rebuilt it in Ezra’s day. The walls were also destroyed, stripping away the safety and security that had previously been found in Jerusalem. These ruins would remain until Nehemiah’s day when he helped rebuild them.

In reality, it was Israel’s sin that brought the exile, though they were likely one of the most sinful groups of people ever to exist. No, instead, it was their rejection of the many opportunities God gave them for reconciliation.

He left a remnant though. But in reading this, I couldn’t help but think about America… and the great moral degradation we’ve maintained. Will WE have a remnant left?

Seventy Years of Captivity

Anyone that wasn’t killed in the destruction of Jerusalem became a captive. This included Daniel. These captives remained so until the Persians conquered Babylon. Then they got to go back to where they came from.

With regard to the enjoyment of the Sabbath’s, it’s important to know that God commanded Israel to observe the Sabbath for the sake of the land with a rest every seven years (Exodus 23). Judah had completely forsaken this commandment for roughly 490 years, leaving seventy years of Sabbaths unaccounted for. And so, with this very captivity, God took those years back. Jeremiah spoke of these 70 years in Jeremiah 25 and 29.

The King of Persia

The Lord “stirred up” the spirit of Cyrus, Persia’s king, in his FIRST YEAR of reign. That shows the urgency of Jeremiah’s prophecy. He called out for anyone among the captives that would be willing to and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, and he gave them a decree, granting that very thing. Cyrus also wanted the temple rebuilt, adding astonishing weight to the recognition given to God.

I dare not ask specifics here. There are SO MANY QUESTIONS available, that this could easily turn into a week-long or a month-long study. For the serious student, feel free to simply create a list of your own questions, and then proceed to dig for the answers. You’ll find them eventually.

Dear Lord Jesus, help us never to be so evil as those that came into power after Josiah’s death. Help us to never turn away your compassion, your desire for our holiness and sanctification. Help us to search our hearts to see if there be any evil things there. We know how subtle the enemy can be, and we ask your protection against his desire to turn us cold and unfeeling, or worse, complaining and hateful. We ask humbly in Jesus’ Mighty Name.

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