Bible Readings for December 30th
The accounts of Josiah’s reforms of Judah’s worship that we began to read about in 2 Chronicles 34 continue in today’s reading from 2 Chronicles 35, where we read about the Passover feast that Josiah holds during the eighteenth year of his reign (2 Chron. 35:19). Sadly, this chapter also includes the tragic story of Josiah’s death, which gives us a more comprehensive picture of the overall strengths and weaknesses of Josiah’s reign.
Just as we saw in the account of this Passover feast in 2 Kings 23, Josiah’s Passover is an extraordinary Passover: “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” (2 Chron. 35:18). So, Josiah’s Passover is held on the fourteenth day of the first month (2 Chron. 35:1), in accordance with the law of Moses (Ex. 12:1–6; Lev. 23:5; Num. 28:16), and Josiah is careful to make sure that the Levites are properly prepared and consecrated (2 Chron. 35:4–6). Even more, Josiah also incorporates the Levitical singers and the gatekeepers that David had established in 1 Chronicles into this Passover feast (2 Chron. 35:15).
But sadly, this feast is the final high point for Judah. Despite Josiah’s faithfulness, he nevertheless commits a foolish, fatal mistake by insisting upon fighting with Neco, king of Egypt (2 Chron. 35:20–27). The account of Josiah’s death in 2 Kings 23:28–30 gave virtually no details about how Josiah died, but here we find out that King Neco tries to warn Josiah off, 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” (2 Chron. 35:21). Josiah, however, refuses to listen “to the words of Neco from the mouth of God” (2 Chron. 35:22). So, when Josiah comes out to fight, he dies, shot by an archer in a chariot just like King Ahab (1 Kgs. 22:29–40)—hardly a fitting end to such a great, godly king.
And with that, the final hope for a greater Son of David in the Old Testament is extinguished. After David, the Chronicler has raised our hopes for the Messiah again and again through stories of elaborate reforms of the true worship of Yahweh, but with the death of this final possibility, Judah will go away into exile. All of these narratives are written to provide hope but also to leave us tragically unsatisfied and longing for the future.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.