Today: [2 Chronicles Thirty-Five] Josiah Celebrates Passover. In this passage king Josiah celebrates an unprecedented Passover. During times that the kings would sin and fall into idolatry the Passover would be neglected for years. Josiah goes to great lengths to carry out a memorable even exactly according to the dictates of Moses law. For us the effort is a testimony to us of the importance of remember who our Passover lamb is and the need to keep the memorial always before us and our families lest we forget the one that bought us with the sacrifice of Calvary.
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[2Ch 35:1-27 KJV] 1 Moreover Josiah kept a passover unto the LORD in Jerusalem: and they killed the passover on the fourteenth [day] of the first month. 2 And he set the priests in their charges, and encouraged them to the service of the house of the LORD, 3 And said unto the Levites that taught all Israel, which were holy unto the LORD, Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel did build; [it shall] not [be] a burden upon [your] shoulders: serve now the LORD your God, and his people Israel, 4 And prepare [yourselves] by the houses of your fathers, after your courses, according to the writing of David king of Israel, and according to the writing of Solomon his son. 5 And stand in the holy [place] according to the divisions of the families of the fathers of your brethren the people, and [after] the division of the families of the Levites. 6 So kill the passover, and sanctify yourselves, and prepare your brethren, that [they] may do according to the word of the LORD by the hand of Moses. 7 And Josiah gave to the people, of the flock, lambs and kids, all for the passover offerings, for all that were present, to the number of thirty thousand, and three thousand bullocks: these [were] of the king’s substance. 8 And his princes gave willingly unto the people, to the priests, and to the Levites: Hilkiah and Zechariah and Jehiel, rulers of the house of God, gave unto the priests for the passover offerings two thousand and six hundred [small cattle], and three hundred oxen. 9 Conaniah also, and Shemaiah and Nethaneel, his brethren, and Hashabiah and Jeiel and Jozabad, chief of the Levites, gave unto the Levites for passover offerings five thousand [small cattle], and five hundred oxen. 10 So the service was prepared, and the priests stood in their place, and the Levites in their courses, according to the king’s commandment.
In this chapter Josiah presides of a Passover celebration. This is the most notable Passover since the time of Hezekiah in 2 Chron. 30. Apparently it was common for the Passover to be neglected and kings like Josiah and Hezekiah made great efforts to keep the celebration and custom alive before the people. The date is mention as the 14th day of the first month because Hezekiah’s Passover was conducted in the 2nd month due to delays in the proceedings. So as great as Hezekiah’s Passover was this observance by Josiah was more accurate to Moses’ command because it was held on the proper date. The 14th day of the month is significant because it is the number 7 doubled which speaks of a double-covenant. The covenant of God to spare the Israelites when the death angel came and the covenant of the people to observe the Passover year by year in remembrance of God’s mercy toward them. For us it speaks of God’s mercy in sending His son and our willingly accepting Jesus as our Lord and savior.
Because Josiah planned this to be a nationwide observance he called the Levites together to instruct them and encourage them in the undertaking. He wanted them to know that he was going to underwrite the whole proceeding and give it his full support. Josiah also calls upon the Levites to return the ark to the Holy of Holies from whence it had been removed during the years of idolatry and pagan ritual. Apparently when Manasseh and his son Amon put idols in the outer court and holy place the ark had been removed to an undisclosed location. It is unclear whether the ark actually was in the possession of the Levites because it had not been mentioned since Solomon’s time when some suggest he sent it away to Ethiopia with the Queen of Sheba where many believe it remains to the day. Remember that the ark was kept shrouded in coverings and tapestries and it’s presence or absence could have easily been concealed. In Jesus’ day when He was crucified the veil was rent at the moment of his death to expose the truth (long hidden) that there was no ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies. What the Jews worshipped was only an ominous, empty chamber.
11 And they killed the passover, and the priests sprinkled [the blood] from their hands, and the Levites flayed [them]. 12 And they removed the burnt offerings, that they might give according to the divisions of the families of the people, to offer unto the LORD, as [it is] written in the book of Moses. And so [did they] with the oxen. 13 And they roasted the passover with fire according to the ordinance: but the [other] holy [offerings] sod they in pots, and in caldrons, and in pans, and divided [them] speedily among all the people. 14 And afterward they made ready for themselves, and for the priests: because the priests the sons of Aaron [were busied] in offering of burnt offerings and the fat until night; therefore the Levites prepared for themselves, and for the priests the sons of Aaron. 15 And the singers the sons of Asaph [were] in their place, according to the commandment of David, and Asaph, and Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s seer; and the porters [waited] at every gate; they might not depart from their service; for their brethren the Levites prepared for them. 16 So all the service of the LORD was prepared the same day, to keep the passover, and to offer burnt offerings upon the altar of the LORD, according to the commandment of king Josiah. 17 And the children of Israel that were present kept the passover at that time, and the feast of unleavened bread seven days. 18 And there was no passover like to that kept in Israel from the days of Samuel the prophet; neither did all the kings of Israel keep such a passover as Josiah kept, and the priests, and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel that were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 19 In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah was this passover kept.
Josiah not only gave the command for the observance of the Passover but he provided thousands of lambs and bullocks out of his own treasuries. This was an astounding and unprecedented act of generosity. The total number of offerings in Josiah’s observance is exactly double the number of offerings made in 2 Chron. 30 at Hezekiah’s Passover. Another difference between Hezekiah’s Passover and Josiah’s that in Hezekiah’s observance the heads of each family slaughtered the lamb but in this Passover held by Josiah the Levites prepared the lambs for the families apparently to ensure that all was done according to the dictates of Moses’ law.
There is mention not only of lambs being sacrificed but also of bullocks. The lambs were the Passover sacrifice and the bullocks were for peace offerings and whole burnt (or consecration) offerings. The people were served first and then the priesthood which was the proper order. We also see that there were singers and musicians employed as part of this Passover. There is no command of Moses for music therefore Josiah went beyond just the dry observance to enhance the communal experience with songs of worship. Lastly we see that this entire observance was planned to take place on one day. This was a monumental feat and the record states that not since the days of Samuel was a Passover held anything like this tremendous undertaking.
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. 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. 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. 23 And the archers shot at king Josiah; and the king said to his servants, Have me away; for I am sore wounded. 24 His servants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Jerusalem, and he died, and was buried in [one of] the sepulchres of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. 25 And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they [are] written in the lamentations. 26 Now the rest of the acts of Josiah, and his goodness, according to [that which was] written in the law of the LORD, 27 And his deeds, first and last, behold, they [are] written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.
After this time Neco king of Egypt came up against the declining Assyrian empire and for reasons unknown Josiah got involved in the conflict. The king of Egypt sends messengers to warn Josiah away but he will not be dissuaded. The king of Egypt tells Josiah through his emissaries that it was God himself that instructed him to enter into war with Assyria but Josiah is so intent that he disguises himself and joins in the battle regardless and dies in the attempt. This is a most unfortunate turn of events for a godly king who followed after the Lord “turning neither to the right hand nor to the left…” The lesson for us is even when we may distinguish ourselves in obedience to God there are still wrong decisions that can be made that can cut short our legacies. The decisions can often come on the heels of great victories such as this monument and historical Passover. In the aftermath of great victory there is often a time of great vulnerability and we need to be careful about decision making at this time lest our foot should slip and we would suffer unnecessarily.
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