Today’s passage is 2 Kings 23:21-24:7. There are so many good lessons we can learn from this passage. Let’s go!
2 Kings 23:21-23 (NIV) 21 The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 Not since the days of the judges who led Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, had any such Passover been observed. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the LORD in Jerusalem.
On verses 21-23: In the Book of the Law, God had commanded His people to celebrate the Passover, an annual festival intended to commemorate how God had rescued His people. As part of ushering a revival (a spiritual awakening) in his land, Josiah leads the people of Judah in celebrating the Passover for the first time in approximately 500 years.
What can we learn from this? When revival takes place in a person, group, or community, there is a renewed passion in the people to observe the ceremonies that God has instituted, also known as “ordinances”. In the Christian church there are two ordinances that Jesus commanded us to observe: baptism and communion. Communion is our Passover meal where we remember how Jesus Christ the Lamb of God sacrificed His body and shed His blood so that we could be forgiven and God’s wrath could “pass over” us. Praise God every time we get to celebrate baptism and communion as a church together.
2 Kings 23:24-25 (NIV) 24 Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the LORD. 25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did–with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.
On verses 24-25: Prior to Josiah, three other kings tried to remove idolatry from the land of Judah: Asa, Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah. But no one went to the lengths that Josiah did to take action and honour God by cleansing the land of idols. It’s for this reason that the Bible honours Josiah, saying that “neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did – with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength” (v25).
What can we learn from this? To turn to God with all your heart, soul and strength is not just a matter of words or emotions, but a matter of action. It’s when you take real, practical steps to honour God with your life. Like Josiah, may we turn to the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength. Is there a specific action you can take to turn to God today? As 1 John 3:18 says, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 2 Kings 23:26-27 (NIV) 26 Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him to anger. 27 So the LORD said, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, ‘There shall my Name be.'”
On verses 26-27: Despite Josiah’s best efforts to honour God, this wasn’t enough to prevent God from eventually ousting Judah from His presence and removing them from their land just like He had promised in 2 Kings 22:16-20.
What can we learn from this? 1. God is sovereign. He will do what He wants to do and no one can stop Him. 2. God is faithful to His Word and does what He promises He will do. 3. Just as Josiah’s best efforts were not enough to keep God from ousting Judah from His presence, our best efforts are not enough to earn God’s favour or to deserve God’s presence. All of us deserve to be separated from God’s presence because of our sin. It is not because of our best effort but because of God’s mercy shown in Jesus Christ that we could be restored to God’s presence.
2 Kings 23:28-30 (NIV) 28 As for the other events of Josiah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 29 While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Neco faced him and killed him at Megiddo. 30 Josiah’s servants brought his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king in place of his father.
On verses 28-30: Josiah’s life and even his death are full of lessons worth learning. We’ll look more closely at lessons from Josiah’s death when we look at 1 and 2 Chronicles.
2 Kings 23:34 (NIV) 34 Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt, and there he died.
On 23:31-35 to 24:7: After Josiah’s death, Egypt takes control of the land of Judah. Josiah’s middle son Jehoahaz becomes king of Judah, but after only 3 months Egypt chooses to replace him with another son of Josiah’s called Eliakim. As a further way to show his power over Judah, King Neco of Egypt changes Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. While Jehoiakim reigns as Egypt’s puppet ruler over Judah, other foreign nations invade and attack Judah until one empire greater than Egypt arrives on the scene and takes over all of Judah: Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonians. The author of 2 Kings sees all of this as fulfillment of God’s promise to oust the people of Judah from their land as punishment for King Manasseh’s sins and how he led Judah into idolatry.
What can we learn from all this? Judah is overpowered by Egypt. Egypt is overpowered by Babylon. But in the end, the One who is truly sovereign over all is the Lord Himself. Any power or authority a person, group or nation has is only because God in His sovereignty has allowed them at least for now to have such power or authority. So if you are in a position of power or authority, whether in your home, workplace, church or city, always stay humble and remember thatit is because of the mercy of Almighty God that we have any power or authority at all.
Heavenly Father, thank You for every lesson we can learn from Your powerful Word. You are sovereign, faithful to Your promises, and full of justice and mercy. Like Josiah, may I turn to You with all my heart, soul, and strength today. May I love You not just with my words but with my actions too. May I always stay humble, realizing that any power, influence or authority I have is a gift from You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!