Josiah Keeps the Passover
35 Josiah kept a Passover to the LORD in Jerusalem. And they slaughtered the Passover lamb on the fourteenth day of the first month. He appointed the priests to their offices and encouraged them in the service of the house of the LORD. And he said to the Levites who taught all Israel and who were holy to the LORD, “Put the holy ark in the house that Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, built. You need not carry it on your shoulders. Now serve the LORD your God and his people Israel. Prepare yourselves according to your fathers’ houses by your divisions, as prescribed in the writing of David king of Israel and the document of Solomon his son. And stand in the Holy Place according to the groupings of the fathers’ houses of your brothers the lay people, and according to the division of the Levites by fathers’ household. And slaughter the Passover lamb, and consecrate yourselves, and prepare for your brothers, to do according to the word of the LORD by Moses.”
Then Josiah contributed to the lay people, as Passover offerings for all who were present, lambs and young goats from the flock to the number of 30,000, and 3,000 bulls; these were from the king’s possessions. And his officials contributed willingly to the people, to the priests, and to the Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, the chief officers of the house of God, gave to the priests for the Passover offerings 2,600 Passover lambs and 300 bulls. Conaniah also, and Shemaiah and Nethanel his brothers, and Hashabiah and Jeiel and Jozabad, the chiefs of the Levites, gave to the Levites for the Passover offerings 5,000 lambs and young goats and 500 bulls.
When the service had been prepared for, the priests stood in their place, and the Levites in their divisions according to the king’s command. And they slaughtered the Passover lamb, and the priests threw the blood that they received from them while the Levites flayed the sacrifices. And they set aside the burnt offerings that they might distribute them according to the groupings of the fathers’ houses of the lay people, to offer to the LORD, as it is written in the Book of Moses. And so they did with the bulls. And they roasted the Passover lamb with fire according to the rule; and they boiled the holy offerings in pots, in cauldrons, and in pans, and carried them quickly to all the lay people. And afterward they prepared for themselves and for the priests, because the priests, the sons of Aaron, were offering the burnt offerings and the fat parts until night; so the Levites prepared for themselves and for the priests, the sons of Aaron. The singers, the sons of Asaph, were in their place according to the command of David, and Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s seer; and the gatekeepers were at each gate. They did not need to depart from their service, for their brothers the Levites prepared for them.
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. And the people of Israel who were present kept the Passover at that time, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days. No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah this Passover was kept.
Josiah Killed in Battle
After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Neco king of Egypt went up to fight at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to meet him. But he 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. And God has commanded me to hurry. Cease opposing God, who is with me, lest he destroy you.” Nevertheless, 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, but came to fight in the plain of Megiddo. And the archers shot King Josiah. And the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.” So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in his second chariot and brought him to Jerusalem. And he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah; and all the singing men and singing women have spoken of Josiah in their laments to this day. They made these a rule in Israel; behold, they are written in the Laments. Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his good deeds according to what is written in the Law of the LORD, and his acts, first and last, behold, they are written in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah.
2 Chronicles 35 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Even though Josiah was a righteous king, God’s judgment would still stand. His message came earlier under Manasseh that He would let the people of Judah be taken captive and carried off. Although Josiah was a man who brought such tremendous reforms to the nation, had a deep love for God and was beloved by the people, His words of prophecy would be fulfilled through this man and his leadership.
The winds of war were brewing. Some consider this to be equivalent to a World War on some fronts in the ancient world. The Babylonians had destroyed Nineveh. Regrouping, the Assyrians were not going to lay down. However, Babylon sent their army in hopes of taking them out once for all. Egypt, who had lost the shine of their world domination was itching to gain that back. They also were in fear of the Babylonians who seemingly were unstoppable. So, Pharaoh sent his own army to fight alongside the Assyrians. The path of their trek led them directly through Judah. And this is where it got sticky.
Josiah marched out to meet Neco who was Pharaoh at the time. Almost in a Godly warning, Neco told Josiah to back off, there was no issue between the two and let him go. In fact, in a most bizarre moment, Pharaoh spoke spiritual truth.
“God has told me to hurry; so stop opposing God who is with me or He will destroy you.”2 Chronicles 35:21
His words would be fulfilled sooner than later.
Josiah’s Costly Mistake
He assumed Neco could not be part of God’s plan and it would cost him his life. So he plowed on to the battlefront in Megiddo. Almost in the same fashion as evil King Ahab was killed, he went into battle with disguise. An arrow would pierce him and he died. Judah went into great mourning.
Historically, Neco would hold the fort so to speak for 4 years in Carchemish until he too was defeated. Babylon would step into the ultimate world power.
So history aside, which is fascinating as to the rise of Babylon, what does this all have to speak to us? The reality is God’s word stands. He had said Judah would be taken into captivity alongside Israel. This was the beginning step of that happening. At the moment, there was a righteous king on the throne. God would use Josiah’s break of a bad decision to fulfill what He said would come. God had said He would bring judgment and He did.
The word of God does not return void. It is fulfilled with whatever He has said would happen. We must not forget this even though we go through reprieves of sorts. He will do as He said He would.
The second thing to simply consider is sometimes we are apt to judge the messenger rather than listen to the message. This was the case for Josiah with what Neco had said. More than likely his thoughts were how could a pagan king speak for God. Well, historically throughout many instances in Genesis and Daniel, God did just that. We cannot allow our own prejudices blind us from what God is speaking even if it comes from the most unexpected people.
2 Chronicles 35 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Armchair Quarterback (noun) a person who offers advice or an opinion on something in which they have no expertise or involvement
How many people do you know who have lots of great ideas but very little action? You know what I’m talking about. We all know them. They are the armchair quarterbacks. The hindsight critic. In the business world, the concept that opposes this is “having skin in the game.” It’s easy to speculate from the sidelines, but once you put forth the effort and get involved, you have just become accountable to your own criticism. This is why so many would rather do nothing because they can hide behind their excuses! I’m going to keep it real today. Jesus didn’t like armchair quarterbacks.
Spiritually, Jesus aggressively called out those who wanted to follow but refused to go all in. He called it sacrifice. In fact, a critical component of His message was exemplifying that people can faithfully trust Him with everything – even when it made no sense.
When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”Luke 18:22 NASB
“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?Luke 14:27-28 NASB
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.Romans 12:1 NASB
So how does this relate to the chapter? Hang on, I’m about to tell you!
Josiah contributed to the lay people, to all who were present, flocks of lambs and young goats, all for the Passover offerings, numbering 30,000 plus 3,000 bulls; these were from the king’s possessions.2 Chronicles 35:7 NASB
Josiah was one of the kings who led the people in celebrating Passover. Of course, in order to do this, they needed to sacrifice their best lambs for the feast. Normally, the animals came from the people. In fact, you may remember the story of Jesus going to the temple and flipping tables with his whip. This was because moneychangers had begun buying and selling within God’s temple in order to provide traveling families with an animal they could sacrifice. So, in the end, the high priest and their families took the monetary benefit either by renting the space in the temple or by having their family members participate in the exchange.
Contrast the heart of these high priests in the New Testament with King Josiah in the Old Testament. It was not Josiah’s responsibility to provide his own animals for others to sacrifice. However, he did so out of his joy and love for God. The value he placed on these animals was low compared to the spiritual fruit that would come from all the people being able to participate in Passover.
Josiah not only contributed, but he gave to all those who were present! Although this is a great feat, it really does serve as an illustration to what is happening with so many churches across this nation. In these cases, the leadership is contributing above and beyond so that the lay people can be fed. Although this is noble and really is the right thing to do, it is not how Jesus designed the church to function!
So, the question is simple. Are you armchair quarterbacking your pastors and their leaders? Are you a hindsight critic of the ministries that are being offered? Honestly, I used to be an armchair quarterback. Several years ago, while being employed in a para-church ministry, I refused to go to church. I hid behind a critical spirit and was able to find something wrong with every church I walked into. No one was doing church “the right way.” Looking back, I was an idiot (I told you I was going to keep it real). This decision severely affected my spiritual maturity and the growth of my family.
The truth for The Warehouse is that we are wrestling with questions about what to cut in 2018. This is because we simply can’t continue to do things like our annual Passover meal when the resources are not there. It’s extremely hard. And if I’m brutally transparent, I’m trying to be like Josiah right now.
I personally have felt led to give more in order to keep things going, but I’m wrestling with obligation versus joyful giving. Again, I’m keeping it real. Do I continue to give more (time, money, resources) at the risk of providing for my own family? Is that the best-case scenario for the church today? Is that my role as a pastor? I’m wrestling. What do you think?
In many ways, this blog post is my own “temple cleansing tirade.” I hope if you are reading this you understand my tension and struggle. But the truth is I feel as a leader I shouldn’t ask others to do something I’m not striving for in my own life. The reality is that the church is only as strong as the sum of its parts.
Jesus gave us all gifts and calls us to contribute and function together as His tangible body. When I read Scripture, I see that as the picture of a solid, thriving church. God help us not to be armchair quarterbacks but to prayerfully seek where we are holding back and preventing Your Kingdom from going forward.