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Bible Commentaries
2 Chronicles 35

Kingcomments on the Whole BibleKingcomments

Verses 1-6


The last two chapters show a high point and a low point and a ray of hope at the end. The climax is the celebration of the Passover by King Josiah. The low point is what Jehoiakin and Zedekiah, the sons of Josiah, do. A pious father and wicked sons. Yet 2 Chronicles ends with a beginning of an ascending line. In the last verses new hope rises through the faithfulness of God.

Preparation for Celebrating the Passover

2 Chronicles 35:1 is a summary of what is described in 2 Chronicles 35:2-Psalms :. The celebrating of the Passover follows from what Josiah read in the found book of the law and the covenant he made with the LORD to act according to all the words of the book of the law. Josiah celebrates the Passover on the day appointed by the LORD (Leviticus 23:5). Our obedience works in the same way. Paul has also been told by the Lord how the Lord’s Supper is to be celebrated (1 Corinthians 11:23). We celebrate it according to His directions on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).

Just as with Hezekiah, we also find the weakness of the priests. They must be resurrected to do their service (2 Chronicles 35:2). We also see this in Christianity, where many believers are not aware of their priesthood and therefore do not do priestly service. We would do well to encourage those believers to take up their priestly duties in the house of God. The Father seeks for them (John 4:23).

The house has been cleansed. Now the objects that belong there can be given their own place again. Josiah tells the Levites to put the ark back in its place (2 Chronicles 35:3). It seems that the ark is no longer in its place because of former unfaithfulness. The Levites are said to teach “all Israel”. What the Levites do corresponds to the teaching of teachers in the church. The goal of their teaching must be to give the Lord Jesus the place that belongs to Him. A divine service in the church is only possible if the Lord Jesus can take His rightful place, a place of rest and authority in the midst of His own.

Josiah also says to the Levites that they must serve the LORD their God and His people Israel. God must occupy the first place in their - and also in our - service. It is not man and his needs that are central, but the Lord and His interests. God’s people must be served in line with this and directly related to it.

After pointing out to the Levites their connection to the ark and their service, Josiah tells them to prepare themselves (2 Chronicles 35:4). This preparation means that they must prepare themselves for their service. In doing so, they should not rely on their own insights or initiatives. Their responsibilities are described by David and Solomon. If they act accordingly, they will be occupied to the honor of God and will be protected against acting arbitrarily, which would cause new disorder.

Everything must be carried out exactly according to Scripture. Every time the chronicler points this out. In 2 Chronicles 35:3-Numbers : he refers to Solomon, in 2 Chronicles 35:4; 2 Chronicles 35:15 to the writing of David, in 2 Chronicles 35:18 to Samuel, and in 2 Chronicles 35:6; 2 Chronicles 35:12 to the word of the LORD by the mouth of Moses. The latter is a fine example of inspiration. At the same time, the word of Moses is perfectly the word of God. That word is the standard for Josiah.

When the Levites have prepared themselves, they must stand in the holy place to perform their task for the benefit of the lay people, literally “the sons of the people” (2 Chronicles 35:5). It is true that to the Levites is spoken about the sons of the people as “your brethren”. The Levites, together with the common people, are members of God’s people.

For us it means that we take our place in the church in submission to the Word, so that we can meet the Lord Jesus there. We are all there together as brothers and sisters. For us there is no distinction as instituted by God in Israel, a distinction between priests and Levites and the common people. The New Testament believer is a priest, a Levite and an ordinary member of the people at the same time. However, we can apply these distinctions to different aspects of our being a Christian, such as worshipping God, serving the believers, and being a Christian in daily life.

The Levites are commissioned to slaughter the Passover animals and sanctify themselves (2 Chronicles 35:6). When we are occupied with the Passover, which for us is the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 5:7), we must realize that we are occupied with holy things. Josiah instructs the Levites to prepare Passover animals also for their brethren and to do so as it is written down in God’s Word by Moses. For us it means teaching our fellow believers by means of the Word of God what it means to engage with Christ as our Passover.

Verses 7-9

The Passover Offerings

Here the Passover becomes a sacrificial feast. Josiah and the leaders contribute offerings. In 2 Chronicles 35:7 we read that the great gift of Josiah comes from his own possessions. The making available of sacrifices shows in picture that Christians not only bring their own appreciation of Christ as a sacrifice, but that through their teaching teachers and leaders also provide other believers with ‘sacrificial material’.

Sacrifices are constantly added to the sacrifices, new sacrifices are constantly being provided (2 Chronicles 35:8-1 Samuel :). This indicates that our spiritual sacrifices are constantly being renewed. If that does not happen, our spiritual sacrificial service becomes formalism, it becomes a routine. That is why it is important to read about the Lord Jesus in God’s Word, so that there is more and more thanks and worship for Him in our hearts.

Verses 10-16

Preparing the Offerings

Now that the priests, the Levites, and the service are prepared, the Passover can be celebrated. All take their places according to the commandment of the king (2 Chronicles 35:10). So they stand there at the right time, in the right place, with the right sacrifices and the right mind of heart. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, it must also be done as the Lord Jesus said, in the place where He is, in the way He wills and in the right mind. We have to understand that the Lord’s meal is not an ordinary human meal. If we consider that, it will save us from the misconduct that Paul must admonish the Corinthians about (1 Corinthians 11:20-Ecclesiastes :).

The slaughter of the Passover lamb is a serious matter (2 Chronicles 35:11). The death of an innocent, spotless animal and the sprinkling of blood are reminders of what was necessary for the redemption of the people out of Egypt. It is a picture of the great sacrifice of Christ through Whose blood we are redeemed from the power of sin (1 Peter 1:18-Psalms :). The skinning is done to sacrifice certain parts of the sacrifices to the LORD and to give other parts to the people to be eaten (2 Chronicles 35:12).

The parts of the sacrifice are treated in different ways (2 Chronicles 35:13). The Passover lamb is roasted, and the holy things that are for the people are boiled in various objects (Exodus 12:8-1 Samuel :; Deuteronomy 16:7). After their preparation, the meat is speedily carried to the celebrating people, after which the meal can begin.

What is roasted is exposed to the fire. This is seen in Christ Who has been in the fire of God’s judgment. The cooking of the parts of the sacrifice given to the common people is an expression of the people’s appreciation of the work of Christ. That appreciation means that God’s people feed on Christ.

The priests have been so busy sacrificing the burnt offerings that the Levites must prepare the Passover lamb for them (2 Chronicles 35:14). Here we see a beautiful cooperation in the service for the LORD. As said before, today we know no distinction between priests and Levites. All believers are priests before God and all serve Him also as Levites with the different task each one has. As Levites we are busy to do our priestly task all the better, to become better worshippers.

In 2 Chronicles 35:15 the celebration of the Passover is extended with singing. At the first celebration of the Passover, at the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 12:1-2 Kings :), there is no singing. Singing is part of the Supper. We remember the Lord and proclaim His death. At the same time, we are glad that He has done it and that the work has been accomplished through which God has been glorified and we have been saved and have received so many blessings. We cannot help but praise and honor Him for that. The cup of the Supper is therefore referred to as “the cup of blessing which we bless” or “the cup of praise for which we praise” (1 Corinthians 10:16).

The gatekeepers remain at their post. As they faithfully perform their service, they receive their share of the Passover lamb “because the Levites their brethren prepared for them”. Here we see that while we are busy before the Lord, we can feed on Him. There is a danger that through our zeal we may forget to feed on the Lord. He is the true strength for our service.

2 Chronicles 35:16 is the conclusion of the previous part. To speak of “all the service of the LORD “ means that it is not a service of men. It is a service by men. However, they must do their service in the prescribed manner. It happens “on that day”, the day determined by the LORD when the Passover is to be celebrated. It also happens “on the altar of the LORD” and not on an altar of men. Finally everything happens “according to the command of King Josiah”. Josiah is the God-fearing leader who gives his people the right instructions. It is also necessary today that the leaders among God’s people give the people the right directions from God’s Word.

Verses 17-19

A Special Passover

There are also Israelites present at the celebration of the Passover, i.e. members of God’s people from the Ten Tribes (2 Chronicles 35:17). They should be all men of Israel, for according to the command they should go to Jerusalem three times a year, among other things to celebrate the Passover (Exodus 23:14-Esther :; Deuteronomy 16:7-Esther :). Unfortunately this is not the case. Even today, many do not come to the place where the Lord Jesus is in the midst of the church to honor Him there.

The Passover is followed by the celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, a feast that lasts for seven days. The connection between the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Breast is very close and occurs more often (Luke 22:1; 1 Corinthians 5:7-Ruth :). The meaning is that our life must be in accordance with our eating of the slain Lamb. Our whole life - seven is the number that indicates a complete period - must be ‘unleavened’, i.e. free from sin, of which the leaven is a picture.

The Passover that Josiah celebrates is of a higher spiritual level than that of Hezekiah. The Passover celebrated by Hezekiah has not been so celebrated since the days of Solomon (2 Chronicles 30:26). The Passover celebrated by Josiah even surpasses that Passover. To find a comparison for celebrating such a Passover, the chronicler must go back much further, to the days of Samuel (2 Chronicles 35:18). This means that throughout the time of the kings, the Passover has not been celebrated in the way Josiah does now.

God in His grace can give such glorious things that have not been there for a long time. Josiah celebrates an unprecedented Passover, also because he by far is not as rich as his predecessors and yet makes such sacrifices and provides for the whole people. We must not restrict God and deny Him revivals. Across all the unfaithfulness of the people, He can give in His grace a restoration that reminds us of the beginning.

Josiah celebrates the Passover in the eighteenth year of his reign (2 Chronicles 35:19). He has then cleansed the land and the house and ordered the restoration of the house of the LORD (2 Chronicles 34:8). At the end of the description of his celebration of the Passover, the connection between a sanctified life and the house of God, on the one hand, and salvation from the death of the Lamb, on the other, is emphasized.

Verses 20-27

The Death of Josiah

After Josiah has finished restoring God’s house (2 Chronicles 35:20), another act of him is described by the chronicler. This act will be his last, because Josiah will be killed in it. It is an act of war. The connection between the mention that his work concerning the house is finished and his acting against Neco is perhaps that he no longer sees any challenges internally and shifts the field of his interest to events outside his land.

Be that as it may, it is always a dangerous moment when we have come to the completion of a particular work for the Lord. We should then remain dependent on Him and not look for challenges in areas where He has not called us. It is important that we remain in the field of work that the Lord has entrusted to us (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:13). Josiah should not have interfered in the politics of the world. The disputes between these empires are none of his business (Proverbs 26:17 Proverbs 20:3). It is also a mystery why he did this.

In 609 BC Neco, the king of Egypt, sets out to fight. It is not clear whether he is engaged in battle with Assyria or whether he is on his way to help Assyria in its struggle against the rising Babylonian empire (2 Kings 23:29). As a matter of fact, it is not so important. It is about Josiah’s attitude to what is happening outside his land and how he responds to warnings not to interfere in matters that do not concern him.

When Josiah meets Neco to fight against him, Neco lets warn him not to do so (2 Chronicles 35:21). He clearly says this time he isn’t out for war with Judah but that he is going against a house that is waging war against him. Neco appeals for this fight to a command of God Who also said to him that he has to hurry. He emphasizes once more to Josiah that his actions mean obstruction of God. Neco knows God at his side. If Josiah stands in his way to prevent him from carrying out his task, it will be to his ruin. God will then ruin him.

The words Neco speaks are very remarkable. Did God really command him to take up the sword against an enemy empire? Or is it the case that Neco speaks about his own god he consulted and that he says what he told him? We do not have to exclude speaking of the true God to the heathen Neco. It may be that God has spoken to him in some way hidden from us (cf. Genesis 31:24). We can see a confirmation of this in the following verse, where his words to Josiah are referred to as “the words of Neco from the mouth of God” (2 Chronicles 35:22).

The fact is that God warns Josiah through Neco not to interfere in this battle. We see here that a believer reprimands an unbeliever for his actions as a believer. Being a Christian has consequences and sometimes we are reminded of this by people of the world. It will be wisdom to listen to them. God may want to make things clear to us through an unbeliever. He can make use of an unbeliever (John 11:51) and even a donkey (Numbers 22:28-Obadiah :).

However, Josiah does not let himself be warned and goes into battle. In doing so, he disguises himself, which reminds us of Ahab who did the same (2 Chronicles 18:29). This shows that Josiah is not in the way of faith. Just as the disguise did not protect Ahab, the disguise of Josiah does not protect him from death. The archers shoot him (2 Chronicles 35:23). God knows how to hit him. Josiah realizes that he is badly wounded and orders his servants to take him away. Because his own chariot may have been disabled, the servants transport Josiah on the second chariot, the spare chariot (2 Chronicles 35:24). They take him to Jerusalem, where he dies and is buried.

The sadness about Josiah’s death is great. All of Judah and Jerusalem mourn over him. Jeremiah makes a lament about him (2 Chronicles 35:25). This doesn’t mean the lamentation after which his Bible book is mentioned. The book of Lamentations is written on the occasion of the fall of Jerusalem, which takes place twenty-two years after the death of Josiah. Zechariah also speaks of a lamentation and that refers back to this lamentation about Josiah (Zechariah 12:11).

The singing about Josiah in lamentations continues for a long time. There is even an ordinance made in Israel to do so. For that purpose the lamentations are written down. They can always be consulted when the grief for the loss of this king needs to be expressed. The people may feel that he has been their last hope for prosperity and that with his death all hope for blessing has disappeared. What remains is the expectation of the judgment on Judah and Jerusalem.

The chronicler does not conclude his description of the life of Josiah with his failure, but with a remark about “his deeds of devotion” (2 Chronicles 35:26). He points out his pious deeds, his deeds “as written in the law of the LORD”. Only if deeds are in accordance with the Word of God can they be seen as ‘deeds of devotion’. It is not about human goodness, but about goodness as God also demonstrates it.

All the deeds of devotion of Josiah which the chronicler did not include in his account can be found “in the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah” (2 Chronicles 35:27). What is written in those books concerns his whole life, from “first to last”. Thus there is a complete description of the life of one of the most God-fearing kings of Judah. For us, only what is of use to us is included in Scripture.

Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Chronicles 35". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/2-chronicles-35.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.
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