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AN EXCEPTIONAL PASSOVER
So near to the end of the history of the kings of Israel it is beautiful to see a Passover being kept, of which we are told, "There had been no Passover kept in Israel like that since the days of Samuel the prophet, and none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept, with the priests and the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem" (v.18). Does this not tell US that it is possible, even in our own day of the ruin and failure of the Church publicly, to give some true honour to the name of the Lord Jesus such as will delight the heart of God? For the Passover speaks of the thankful worship of the Lord Jesus as the One who sacrificed Himself for us on the cross of Calvary. While the people may fail miserably, yet He remains faithful and true.
Hezekiah had kept a remarkable Passover (ch.30), but it was one month later than the prescribed time, though none like it had been kept since the days of Solomon (ch.30:36). However, there had been no Passover like Josiah's since before any king had ever reigned. Josiah made sure that all the details of order were observed in this Passover. Today this would remind us that for centuries the simple service of breaking of bread in remembrance of the Lord Jesus was ignored, and as we near His coming He would surely desire us to give Him honour in this simple way.
The Passover that Josiah kept was the most correct in all its details of any that were kept in the time of the Kings, because Josiah was careful to see that it corresponded to the Word of God. Josiah was the last of the kings in Israel or Judah who truly honoured God, and this should be an encouragement for believers today to get back to the truth of scripture at a time when God's rights have been cast aside by the professing church. The following outline will be helpful in our studying this passage:
1. The Time (v.1) ¾ that which scripture had prescribed.
2. The Centre (v.3) ¾ The Ark, typical of Christ, to whom the people were to gather.
3. The Preparation (v.4) ¾ Every house finding its place according to the instructions of David and Solomon.
4. The Order (v.5) ¾ Priests and Levites standing in their place to kill the Passover according to the Word of the Lord by Moses.
5. The Provision (vv.7-9) ¾ Josiah, the princes and chief of the Levites willingly giving to the people the necessary offerings for the Passover
6. The Death (v.11) ¾ The Passover killed, the blood sprinkled, with burnt offerings accompanying the sacrifice.
7. The Roasting (v.13) ¾ Speaking of the severe judgment of the Lord Jesus, exposed directly to the flame of God's wrath.
8. The Singing (v.15) ¾ Speaking of the unspeakable joy resulting from the value of Christ's sacrifice.
9. The Guarding (v.15) ¾ Porters (or gatekeepers) were necessary at every gate, allowing in what should be in and keeping out all that should be out.
Thus, the Passover was kept on the 14th day of the first month, with the, priests set in their proper places and encouraged to serve the Lord. The Levites were told to put the ark of the covenant in the temple Solomon had built, for this was the gathering centre of Israel (v.3), just as Christ is the gathering centre for the Church of God. "For where two or three are gathered together unto My name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20).
The Levites were told also to prepare themselves by the houses of their fathers (v.4). Their fathers were Kohath, Gershon and Merari, whose distinct services are recorded inNumbers 4:2; Numbers 4:2; Numbers 4:24; Numbers 4:42. Thus, having prepared themselves, they were to "stand in the holy place according to the divisions of their families" (v.5), maintaining an order according to God when they killed the Passover according to God's word by Moses (v.6).
Before the actual killing of the Passover, however, the provision for it is seen in verses 7-10. Josiah's gift for this far outnumbered the gifts of the princes and of the chief of the Levites. For the king, is typical of the Lord Jesus whose giving far exceeds the willing-heartedness of the most devoted servants. Josiah gave 30,000 lambs and kids and 3,000 bulls (v.7). The rulers gave 2,600 small animals (sheep, etc.) and 300 oxen (v.8). The chief of the Levites gave 5,000 small animals and 500 oxen. This was more than the rulers gave, but only one-sixth of Josiah's gift.
Verse 12 records the killing of the Passover, the priests sprinkling the blood and the Levites skinning the animals. The burnt offerings were however removed from the Passover sacrifice, which was a peace offering of which the offerers were to share. But the burnt offerings were evidently gifts given to the people to offer ¾ not to eat, but to offer all in fire to the Lord, signifying the glory that God receives from the value of the sacrifice of Christ.
After being killed, the Passover offering was roasted as prescribed inExodus 12:8; Exodus 12:8. Other offerings were made at the same time, some boiled in pots or cauldrons, some baked in pans, those too being peace offerings (seeLeviticus 7:11-16; Leviticus 7:11-16). These were divided among the people, which shows they were peace offerings.
The Levites afterward prepared portions for themselves and for the priests, all of whom had been unselfishly occupied with caring for the people (v.14). How lovely an example for the Church of God! Those prominent are to remember they are servants to the need of others, not masters who demand first consideration.
The singers are seen in their place, for the occasion was one of real joy in praising the Lord (v.15). The death of the animals is of course symbolic of the death of the Lord Jesus, and this surely affects believers with deep sorrow, yet the results of that matchless death are so great and marvellous that we should be filled with unspeakable joy in the very face of the greatest sorrow. Is this not true when we remember the Lord in the breaking of bread?
Thus, at this late date in the history of the Kings, the Lord moved His servant to keep the Passover in its prescribed order, and the seven days' Feast of Unleavened Bread. This took place in the 18th year of his reign (v.19), his age only 26 at the time. Who could despise his youth?
JOSIAH'S UNTIMELY DEATH
"After all this" ¾ after Josiah's faithful devotion to the Lord in banishing idolatry out of Judah, and after his keeping so outstanding a Passover to the Lord, ¾ this favoured king made a serious blunder in not consulting the Lord before going out to war. The king of Egypt came to the Euphrates River to engage Carchemish (a Hittite king) in battle, and Josiah intervened to fight against Egypt (v.20). Why he did this we are not told. Could it have been that since be had been preserved by God from harm in warfare that he thought he could settle the disputes of others by the force of arms? In this case the king of Egypt was wiser than Josiah, telling him that he was meddling with God whom the king of Egypt considered was on his side (v.21).
Surely Josiah ought to have considered this advice and to have at least sought God's guidance himself before proceeding any farther. But he had committed himself, and refused to change. In fact, he disguised himself (always a bad act for any believer), and like Ahab, who disguised himself to go to battle (2 Chronicles 18:29). he suffered similar consequences, though he was a believer, as Ahab was not.
Verse 22 tells us that Josiah "did not heed the words of Necho from the mouth of God." God may speak to believers through any agency, and we should be awake to discern whether it may be God speaking even through an unbeliever. At least, Necho's words ought to have made Josiah pause to consider that he ought to consider God's will in this matter.
Josiah received no benefit from his going into battle. We are not even told whether others were killed in the battle, but only that Josiah was wounded by an arrow and ordered his servants to take him away (v.23). He was taken by his second chariot to Jerusalem, and died, then was buried in one of the graves of the kings. How unspeakably sad was this unnecessary death of a king who been so faithful to the Lord for the years before!
Jeremiah and all the people were deeply affected by Josiah's death and lamented greatly. Well they might, for his reign had been like a shining light in the midst of Israel's darkness, which darkness descended again rapidly after his death. In fact, the lamentations of the singing men and women became a regular memorial of Josiah (v.25).
Verse 26 tells us that the rest of Josiah's acts and his goodness in observing the law of the Lord are matters recorded in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 35". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29