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Passage: 2 Chronicles 35-36

On Thursday, May 29, 2014 (Last Updated on 5/29/2022), Yujin wrote,

Jehoiakim (Eliakim), Jehoiachin and Zedekiah ruled consecutively in Judah, and the common witness given for them was that they "did evil in the sight of the LORD" their God (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:5,9,12). God repeatedly sent prophets to them, including the great prophet Jeremiah, but they did not listen:

The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; but they continuallymocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, until there was no remedy (2 Chronicles 36:15-16; cf. 1 Chronicles 36:12 of Jeremiah).

At some point when the Judean king and people were too far gone to prevent the destruction of Jerusalem and exile, God still appealed to them, sending them Jeremiah with God's counsel for them to surrender to the Babylonian king, but again they did not listen (cf. Jeremiah 38).

Friends, as I reflect on how the last Judean kings responded to the prophets of God, I wonder how God sees our response to His Word, which we hear from week to week in the pulpit, and for some of us, from day to day in the Scriptures. Since I hardly see great changes in the lives of Christians from week to week, I presume one of two things must be going on, either (1) everyone is already spiritually mature, so that very little change is necessary or (2) everyone is blind to their own sin and deaf to the message of Scripture, so that they neither perceive nor understand what they need to change. Then again, the preachers may be flawed, presenting the Word of God in such a way that ears are tickled and truth is shrouded. 

Josiah was one of the greatest kings, insituting all kinds of spiritual reforms throughout his kingdom, but when he heard from the Book of the Law, he immediately tore his robes in distress and mourning, as he realized how far off he and the people were from the obedience that God required. 

I am a mixed bag of emotions from day to day as I meditate on God's Word. Sometimes I am elated when I read of the wonder of God's grace. Other times I am a basket case when I think of my own present depravity. I find it strange how some people think that I'm "spiritual" because I talk or write in this way. I wonder, if they think I am spiritual, then how bad must they be?!

It's like this... Let's say we all desire to be chess masters. I am daily learning the rules on how the chess pieces can be used most effectively, and I have won my first match. Does this make me a master?! Everyone would say, "Of course not!" So, why do some people think I am? I can only conclude that perhaps it's because most people don't even know how to play the game.

You see, I struggle every day to perfect my game, by which I mean that I am trying to remove the distractions, even idols, in my life that keep me from worshipping the Lord with my whole heart. But I have only taken baby steps. Replacing my iPhone with a basic phone was a baby step. Getting rid of Cable TV was a baby step. These may be like Josiah going around the country tearing down some altars to Baal and the Asherah poles. Implementing daily time in God's Word was a baby step. Initiating daily quiet time with my daughter was a baby step. This may be like Josiah finding the Book of the Law. Daily meditation on God's Word humbles me because it reminds me of my deep spiritual shortcomings. It also makes me angry because I can see how many preachers are twisting and distorting God's Word in the pulpit and leading their biblically-illiterate followers astray.

One thing is for sure. No one can say we spend too much time in God's Word. Why can I say this? It's because God's Word is no ordinary book, especially for believers. It is living and active. It judges and condemns. It is a fire that will stir to action, but not just any action -- the right action, that is, what is most pleasing to God. It is unlike any word from men because it is inerrant. It is unlike any claim to experience because it is infallible. Apart from it, no one can know God as He must be known. And Jesus is only known through God's Word. Do you want to be spiritual? Why spend hundreds of dollars on a retreat or a revival? The Word of God is free. It will make you spiritual. It guarantees it. Do you want to know the purpose for your life? Do you want to know how to deal with hardship, confusion and uncertainty? There is no better place to find the answers than God's Word. It is better than any self-help book or seminar. Why waste time and money on counterfeits and secondary sources when you can go to the primary resource for them all, the Word of God? We cannot be an expert on everything, and everything is not of equal value. But for the Christian, this one thing is not an option. Every Christian must be an expert on the Word of God. God has taken away every barrier save the stubbornness of our own wayward wills. We have no excuse. Afterall, our eternal fate hangs in the balance.

Passage: 2 Chronicles 35-36

On Tuesday, May 29, 2012 (Last Updated on 5/29/2013), Yujin wrote,

Never since the time of the prophet Samuel had there been such a Passover. None of the kings of Israel had ever kept a Passover as Josiah did, involving all the priests and Levites, all the people of Jerusalem, and people from all over Judah and Israel. (2 Chronicles 35:18 NLT)

King Josiah then issued this order to all the people: “You must celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God, as required in this Book of the Covenant.” There had not been a Passover celebration like that since the time when the judges ruled in Israel, nor throughout all the years of the kings of Israel and Judah. (2 Kings 23:21, 22 NLT)

None of the kings of Israel, not even David and Solomon, had celebrated the Passover as Josiah did. It was not that they did not celebrate the Passover, for they did, for even his great grandfather Hezekiah celebrated it. But they did not do it in the same manner Josiah did. What was different? I surmise that Josiah did it more properly, with every priest and Levite fulfilling their respective roles and with the participation of all the people in Jerusalem and throughout Judah and Israel. And perhaps among all the celebrants of this religious festival none were ever as generous as Josiah in contributing from his own flocks and herds (2 Chronicles 35:7). We are told that Josiah celebrated in exact accord with what was required by the Law of Moses (i.e. "Book of the Covenant") (2 Chronicles 35:6). This goes back to the discovery of the Book of the Law by Hilkiah the priest. When Josiah heard the Law of Moses, he learned it, and then carefully obeyed it wiith all his heart. 

What is more. Consider this final reflection on the reign of King Josiah in the annals of the Kings:

Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since. (2 Kings 23:25 NLT)

Wow! Never before had there been a king like Josiah and never after him to the date of the writing of Kings, which was post-Exile, when there were no more kings. What was so unique about Josiah? He "turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses." This is exactly what God desired of His people and His king. King Hezekiah receives similar accolades, and, of course, King David as well; however, even theirs are not as singular as Josiah's in elevating depth of devotion.

If there is only one blemish in Josiah's record, it is only the very last event of his life, when he disguised himself and went out to battle against King Neco of Egypt, who was going out in obedience to God's command. King Neco was likely not a God-fearing king; nevertheless, God was using him. Josiah had no business getting in the way. Presumably Josiah did not inquire of the LORD and so could not have known that God was using Neco. Perhaps this incident is what kept this greatest of kings from achieving a greater name among the kings and saints of old. 

But I would like to highlight Josiah's faithfulness rather than his failure today. I mentioned yesterday that his faithfulness began at a young age, for he began to personally seek the Lord when he was just sixteen years old. He may have had some godly influence before then by his very repentant grandfather, Manasseh. He probably learned the consequences of disobedience to the LORD from his dad Amon, who had both a short reign (just two years) and life.

Josiah from age sixteen to twenty devoted himself to knowing the LORD. After this, he instituted spiritual reforms in keeping with what he learned. Then, when he discovered the Book of the Law, he fully embraced God's revealed Word, taught it to the people, and commanded absolute allegiance to it from everyone. One of the first things he reinstituted was the proper celebration of the Passover to the LORD, which is what we read about in our text today.

Friends, some of you have fallen off in your devotion to reading and meditating on God's Word. I don't want to rebuke you for this, for I think you already feel your own internal rebuke by the Holy Spirit. But I do want to encourage you. I have been more consistent than many in daily reading and meditating on God's Word not because of any special gift or power of my own. But these are some of the things that God has brought into my life to help me remain consistent and growing:

1. Make reading and meditating on God's Word the priority. Notice I did not say "a" priority but "the" priority. When things are "a" priority, it just becomes one of many priorities, and our sinful minds often makes things that are not priorities as priorities, so that designating something a priority makes no difference in our lives. Now, when you make something "the" priority, then you will not "try to find time for it." It will command not only a regular daily time but also command all or most of your discretionary time as well. You will not put it aside for "special occasions" but plan every event around it. And just as you would not skip work on threat of losing your job, only sickness and death should keep you from doing it. 

2. Do what it takes to increase your motivation for God's Word. In other words, don't make excuses for not doing it, but be proactive and creative in addressig every excuse. Is God's Word too hard to understand? You can purchase any one of thousands of books that give you all kinds of background information on the Scriptures to help you better understand it (e.g. Benware's Introductions to the OT and NT). You can also read the coments on this site. You can also Google your questions to find answers. Do you need more inspiration? Join a discipleship group. Or find a class to take in one of the seminaries. Do whatevever you have to do to encourage your reading of God's Word. 

3. Share God's Word with others. Perhaps the single most motivating thing for me with respect to reading and meditating on God's Word is sharing with others, whether through face-to-face meetings or through this website. Giving to others, that is, sharing and teaching others, helps me to see my own need and makes me want to read and study the Bible more. When others are blessed, I assure you that I am blessed even more. Most people are too squeamish about sharing because they feel inadequate, but as anyone who teaches foreign languages will tell you, the best way to learn a new language is to make a fool of yourself. And when you share, you will likely make a fool of yourself at first and think that you have nothing meaningful to share. But if you remain humble and persevere, you will not remain this way. If it encourages you, so-called "experienced" pastors, theologians and teachers make fools of themselves every day, but their lack of humility in recognizing that they too need to remain learners make them worse off than you. At least you know that you don't know anything, but they think they do (1 Corinthians 8:2). 

4. Do it when you feel like it and when you don't. Emotions govern so much of what we do, but in regard to reading and meditating on God's Word, decide from the first that you will do it when you feel like it and also when you don't feel like it. In other words, determine in your hearts that your emotions will not impact your daily devotion. Sometimes we fail against the negative sway of feelings, but those who decide early and practice diligently to resist the sway of emotion will find greater success than those who do not. 

5. Don't give up. Don't postpone. Don't take a break. It is in committing to a regular and unceasing discipline that you will find success. I recommend a daily discipline. I recommend having a clear reading plan. I recommend at least a one-year plan, for anything beyond this (e.g. reading the Bible in two years or three, etc.) seems too little for you to have a good context for what you are reading from day to day. I recommend you don't jump around the Bible (e.g. some plans have you read Psalms, Proverbs, NT, and OT each day), for this also confuses contexts and makes you susceptible to the pitfall of "proof-texting" (i.e. reading into the Bible your own meaning). And if you find yourself getting behind in your readings, I recommend you stay on your plan and take extra time (as you can find it) to read what you missed from past days. The negative psychological impact of always "catching up" can be very discouraging, so by staying on schedule, at least you can know that you are current, even if there are misses in the past. If you go on vacation, take your Bible with you. If you want to do a Book study (e.g. on Romans), do it in addition to your reading, not instead of your reading. And if you are reading books about the Bible, these too should supplement your daily readings and not displace them. 

6. Increase your disciplines over time. When you discover that your daily discipline of reading and meditating on God's Word has become both a daily habit and part of your lifestyle, then consider increasing your discipline with other disciplines. Once again, only do this when you have the first discipline firmly in hand. Here are some suggestions: (1) Add to your daily discpline a daily memorization of God's Word. I recommend you memorize whole books of the Bible (or at least no less than a chapter) rather than verses, because then you will understand the context of what you memorize and not fall into the trap of proof-texting (i.e. reading into the verse your own meaning). (2) Add to your daily discipline a daily ministry of sharing God's Word. Find some venue, like this or a blog or through Facebook, where you can share what God is teaching you in His Word, so that you can minister to others as He has ministered to you. I hope you would include me in your ministry, as I would love to hear and learn from you. 

7. Encourage others to do this. What I've shared here is my testimony of seeking the Lord in His Word. If you are blessed by it, I hope you will pass it on to others. 

Passage: 2 Chronicles 35-36

On Monday, May 30, 2011, Yujin wrote,

Friends, in 2 Chronicles 35:21-22, we read that Josiah did not heed the word of the Lord that came through Necho, the Egyptian Pharoah. Although I love to read about Josiah, and he is a hero in my eyes, this event always pains me. Is there no good king immune to moral failure in their latter years? Solomon, Ahaz, Hezekiah and now Josiah - all good kings for the most part - took their eyes off of the LORD, presumably in their pride, and it cost them their kingdoms. In every case it appears that these men knew what was right and wrong but chose to stubbornly persist in their sin.

What is my stubborness such that I am unwilling to fully listen to and obey God? I wonder if any of you, who receive these emails from me, have considered the steadfastness of your faith? If you are like me, you know the joy of the LORD in your salvation, that is, what God has wholly and independently accomplished for you, but you feel the pain of not being fully devoted to Him.

I am reminded today the need for daily humility, even self-humiliation, before the Lord. No matter how well we have lived so far, we are always only one decision away from failure. As long as our wills remain free in this life, there will always be the probability of sin. Paul needed a thorn in his flesh to daily remind him of his need for and the sufficiency of God's grace. And so, dear friends, as we are daily reading God's Word and praying, may we also be reminded of our need for and the sufficiency of God's grace to us.

Passage: 2 Chronicles 35-36

On Monday, May 30, 2011, Unmi wrote,
Josiah not only reinstitutes the observance of the Passover, he provides the animals for the sacrifice. Josiah provided for all the lay people who were there a total of thirty thousand lambs and goats for the Passover offerings, and also three thousand cattle—all from the king’s own possessions. (2 Chronicles 35:7) Following his example,  His officials also contributed voluntarily to the people and the priests and Levites. (2 Chronicles 35:8)  

This is in stark contrast to what was happening when Jesus arrives in Jerusalem to observe the Passover.  When Jesus entered the temple court, he finds money changers and those selling sacrificial animals for a profit. Because they were taking advantage of the poor instead helping the poor observe the Passover celebration, Jesus overturned their tables and says “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. (Mark 11:17-18) The teachers of the law would have known that Jesus was referencing what Jeremiah said about the Temple.  “‘Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known,  and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe”—safe to do all these detestable things?  Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 7:9-11) It was shortly after this, during the lifetime of Jeremiah, that Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and the temple was destroyed. Knowing this history, after seeing what Jesus did and hearing what he said, the chief priests and teachers of the law would have been (1) angry because Jesus was telling them that their practices were just as evil as during the times of Jeremiah and (2) fearful that Jesus would bring about some sort of revolution just as what occurred with the Babylonians. 

The Passover had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel; and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah, with the priests, the Levites and all Judah and Israel who were there with the people of Jerusalem.  This Passover was celebrated in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign. (2 Chronicles 35:18-19)  However after Josiah's death, the reforms of Josiah did not have any lasting affect as the people and the 4 remaining kings fall back into their evil ways.  When I think about Josiah's passover, it was a tremendous personal sacrifice for Josiah to provide the animals needed for the observation of the ordinance and the heart with which he did this is credited to him by God, however was there any personal sacrifice made by the people? Even in the Levitical regulations, God made provisions for the poor. Those who couldn't afford a lamb were to offer doves or pigeons. Those who couldn't afford the birds were to offer flour. That which costs someone nothing, means nothing to them. When David bought the threshing floor from Araunah to build an Altar to the LORD, what did David say when Araunah offered the land as well as the animals for the sacrifice at no charge?  But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” (2 Samuel 24:24)

 What kind of offering are we giving to the LORD? Is it costing us nothing or is there some personal sacrifice?   Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:1-2)

Passage: 2 Chronicles 35-36

On Sunday, May 30, 2010 (Last Updated on 5/29/2013), Yujin wrote,


How are you doing in your daily Bible reading. I imagine some of you will say, "Great! Praise God!" while others of you may say, "Not so good. Please pray for me." Therefore, I want to encourage you with the a psalm of David, Psalm 19:7-10,

    7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
       refreshing the soul.
       The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
       making wise the simple.

    8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
       giving joy to the heart.
       The commands of the LORD are radiant,
       giving light to the eyes.

    9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
       enduring forever.
       The ordinances of the LORD are sure,
       and all of them are righteous.

    10 They are more precious than gold,
       than much pure gold;
       they are sweeter than honey,
       than honey from the honeycomb.

Persevere dear friends. In this dark world what a privilege it is for us to have the written, inspired, inerrant Word of God to guide us. Let us eat of God's Word in large measures because we may yet again return to a time of judgment, when God sends a famine, but worse than a famine of food, a famine of hearing the Word of God:

    11 "The days are coming," declares the Sovereign LORD,
       "when I will send a famine through the land—
       not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
       but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.

    12 People will stagger from sea to sea
       and wander from north to east,
       searching for the word of the LORD,
       but they will not find it. (Amos 8:11-12)