Judah really messed everything up. After the death of Josiah in the previous chapter, we see several kings in 2 Chronicles 36 that all decided to move away from God. They did not quietly move away though. When God tried to bring them back, they simply would not listen and were awfully arrogant.
2Ch 36:15 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:
2Ch 36:16 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.
Earlier in this chapter, we hear about Jeremiah trying to help the people, but they didn’t want to listen to him, and it seems that he wasn’t the only messenger. When the people of God told them what they needed to do to straighten everything out, they simply laughed at them and apparently threatened physical harm.
I know that with this type of chapter I have to wonder what was wrong with the people of Judah. They must have realized that their country was going downhill. It wasn’t hard to tell that they were being overrun by rival nations. They must have recognized the symptoms of their disbelief.
However, even when people came with an idea of how to make everything better (get right with God), they didn’t even want to give it a try. They simply mocked the people who brought the medicine to cure the symptoms.
You can see something like this today. Christianity is certainly not as popular as it once was, and people often times make disrespectful attacks on the faith. Some of us who still believe might feel like Jeremiah at times. We keep speaking the truth, but people just don’t want to hear it.
Nevertheless, we need to persevere. Jesus himself predicted that the world would hate His message, so it really shouldn’t be surprising when we encounter opposition. Our job is to be faithful and continue to fight the good fight.
Josiah was a great king, and for most of 2 Chronicles 35, we read about him having the one of the biggest Passover ceremonies ever.
Nevertheless, it is rather interesting how his life ended near the conclusion of the chapter. It is somewhat surprising.
2Ch 35:20 After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him.
2Ch 35:21 But he sent ambassadors to him, saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Judah? I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make haste: forbear thee from meddling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.
2Ch 35:22 Nevertheless Josiah would not turn his face from him, but disguised himself, that he might fight with him, and hearkened not unto the words of Necho from the mouth of God, and came to fight in the valley of Megiddo.
I don’t know what I would have done if I was Josiah. The Egyptians were not always known for their godliness, but it says that in this situation, the words of the Egyptian king Necho were true. He said that God had commanded him to go to war, and he did not have any intention of attacking Israel.
Josiah then decided that that wasn’t good enough for him. He went to war nonetheless, but he went in disguise like kings often did to avoid recognition.
Unfortunately, as you continue reading the chapter, you find that he was shot by an archer and eventually died from the severity of his wounds.
This chapter seems to speak to the importance of discernment. We need to ask God to help us understand other people and help us evaluate their motives. If someone came up to me who had generally been my enemy but told me he actually wasn’t coming to attack me, I probably would have been a little bit suspicious.
In this case, the king of Egypt was even brave enough to say that God told him that he was supposed to attack a different country. Should have Josiah trusted him? In this case, it appears that he should have.
Perhaps Josiah did not bring this issue before God to acquire wisdom and understanding. We have no record that he did, but given his past, it would be surprising if he actually did not. Whatever the case, he made a decision that ended up killing him because he was trying to interfere with the will of God.
Even though Josiah came on to the throne at the very young age of eight years old, when we meet him in 2 Chronicles 34, he seemed to make wise decisions.
2Ch 34:1 Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem one and thirty years.
2Ch 34:2 And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left.
I like the word choice here because if you deviate to the right or to the left, it is a decline. Some alternate translations for this word in Hebrew according to Strong’s numbers are revolt or depart. Nevertheless, I like the imagery of this word decline.
When we are following God, it is kind of like we are on the crest of a hill. We are as high as we could possibly get. God’s plan is our best and highest plan. However, if we start to fall away from that path, we get a little bit lower. Any direction we go in is a decline unless we stay on the crest. The more we deviate from the plan that God has established, the more we slip down the hill.
This is the kind of story that happened to many of the kings of Israel and Judah. Saul started out on the right path. However, when he made the vital error of performing the sacrifice by himself rather than waiting for Samuel, he got bit off track.
He kept getting farther and farther away from where he needed to be as he moved on. He continued declining away from the ideal path at the top of the hill.
We need to make sure that we are more like Josiah and less like Saul. God does have a plan for us, and that involves taking a certain path. If we curve off of that path, we are the only ones that will lose out. By following God, we will have the peace that passes understanding and will be able to be used however God sees fit.
Josiah was a pretty amazing guy. Actually, it might be more accurate to say that Josiah actually believed and followed our pretty amazing God.
In 2 Kings 23, Josiah went about getting everything out of Judah that was not God honoring. I will not copy all of the verses, but if you remember nothing else about this chapter, remember that it was pretty much a systemic reform. The whole system that had been put in place by Manasseh, who was a pretty terrible king, got thrown away.
After all this was done, here is what the Bible says about Josiah.
2Ki 23:25 And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him.
There was never another king like him. He had some pretty tough competition. David was obviously a man who followed God, and there are plenty of other kings who did good things. However, Josiah was designated as the best.
I think that it is exactly how we want to live our lives. In fact, this is very similar to something that Jesus said.
Mat 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Mat 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Josiah was special because that is what he did, and Jesus is telling us that we need to do the same thing. We need to love God and do what God wants. Josiah did that like no one else in history, and I think that we can learn a lot from his example.
When you were a little kid and broke the rules, one of the most common excuses I bet you used was, “But I didn’t know.” We always like to plead ignorance because we somehow think that that will remove the consequences.
2 Kings 22 talks about King Josiah of Judah. He is famous because he began ruling at eight years old, but I think that there is something a lot cooler about him.
He had ordered some repair work to be done on the temple, and one of his workers found the book of the law. I don’t know why the king didn’t have it already, but apparently it was hidden away in the temple. The servant brought it to the king, and he wanted it read.
2Ki 22:10 And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king.
2Ki 22:11 And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.
2Ki 22:12 And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Michaiah, and Shaphan the scribe, and Asahiah a servant of the king’s, saying,
2Ki 22:13 Go ye, enquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that is found: for great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us.
There were no excuses there. Josiah had his eyes opened and was all of a sudden aware of all the problems that the people of Judah had caused. He immediately went to God to figure out how to fix it. He didn’t say, “Well, it wasn’t my fault,” or, “I just don’t really care.” He said that he was going to fix the problem because it wasn’t right.
I think that we need to take that attitude. We need to make sure that we don’t gloss over problems because it has always been done that way or it wasn’t our fault. Problems are problems, and as Christians we have a responsibility to walk with God. I hope that we do that to the best of our abilities.