SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR THIS SERMON:
2 Chronicles 34:1-36:23
34:1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned for thirty-one years in Jerusalem. 2 He did what the Lord approved and followed in his ancestor David’s footsteps; he did not deviate to the right or the left.
3 In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his ancestor David. In his twelfth year he began ridding Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, Asherah poles, idols, and images. 4 He ordered the altars of the Baals to be torn down and broke the incense altars that were above them. He smashed the Asherah poles, idols, and images, crushed them, and sprinkled the dust over the tombs of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He burned the bones of the pagan priests on their altars; he purified Judah and Jerusalem. 6 In the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as Naphtali, and in the ruins around them, 7 he tore down the altars and Asherah poles, demolished the idols, and smashed all the incense altars throughout the land of Israel. Then he returned to Jerusalem.
8 In the eighteenth year of his reign, he continued his policy of purifying the land and the temple. He sent Shaphan son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the city official, and Joah son of Joahaz the secretary to repair the temple of the Lord his God. 9 They went to Hilkiah the high priest and gave him the silver that had been brought to God’s temple. The Levites who guarded the door had collected it from the people of Manasseh and Ephraim and from all who were left in Israel, as well as from all the people of Judah and Benjamin and the residents of Jerusalem. 10 They handed it over to the construction foremen assigned to the Lord’s temple. They in turn paid the temple workers to restore and repair it. 11 They gave money to the craftsmen and builders to buy chiseled stone and wood for the braces and rafters of the buildings that the kings of Judah had allowed to fall into disrepair. 12 The men worked faithfully. Their supervisors were Jahath and Obadiah (Levites descended from Merari), as well as Zechariah and Meshullam (descendants of Kohath). The Levites, all of whom were skilled musicians, 13 supervised the laborers and all the foremen on their various jobs. Some of the Levites were scribes, officials, and guards.
14 When they took out the silver that had been brought to the Lord’s temple, Hilkiah the priest found the law scroll the Lord had given to Moses. 15 Hilkiah informed Shaphan the scribe, “I found the law scroll in the Lord’s temple.” Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan. 16 Shaphan brought the scroll to the king and reported, “Your servants are doing everything assigned to them. 17 They melted down the silver in the Lord’s temple and handed it over to the supervisors and the construction foremen.” 18 Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” Shaphan read it out loud before the king. 19 When the king heard the words of the law, he tore his clothes. 20 The king ordered Hilkiah, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Abdon son of Micah, Shaphan the scribe, and Asaiah the king’s servant, 21 “Go, ask the Lord for me and for those who remain in Israel and Judah about the words of this scroll that has been discovered. For the Lord’s great fury has been ignited against us because our ancestors did not obey the word of the Lord by living according to all that is written in this scroll.”
22 So Hilkiah and the others sent by the king went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, the supervisor of the wardrobe. (She lived in Jerusalem in the Mishneh district.) They stated their business, 23 and she said to them: “This is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘Say this to the man who sent you to me: 24 “This is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to bring disaster on this place and its residents, all the curses that are recorded in the scroll which they read before the king of Judah. 25 This will happen because they have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to other gods, angering me with all the idols they have made. My anger will ignite against this place and will not be extinguished!’” 26 Say this to the king of Judah, who sent you to seek an oracle from the Lord: “This is what the Lord God of Israel says concerning the words you have heard: 27 ‘You displayed a sensitive spirit and humbled yourself before God when you heard his words concerning this place and its residents. You humbled yourself before me, tore your clothes, and wept before me, and I have heard you,’ says the Lord. 28 ‘Therefore I will allow you to die and be buried in peace. You will not have to witness all the disaster I will bring on this place and its residents.’”’” Then they reported back to the king.
29 The king summoned all the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 The king went up to the Lord’s temple, accompanied by all the people of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, the priests, and the Levites. All the people were there, from the oldest to the youngest. He read aloud all the words of the scroll of the covenant that had been discovered in the Lord’s temple. 31 The king stood by his pillar and renewed the covenant before the Lord, agreeing to follow the Lord and to obey his commandments, laws, and rules with all his heart and being, by carrying out the terms of this covenant recorded on this scroll. 32 He made all who were in Jerusalem and Benjamin agree to it. The residents of Jerusalem acted in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors. 33 Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the areas belonging to the Israelites and encouraged all who were in Israel to worship the Lord their God. Throughout the rest of his reign they did not turn aside from following the Lord God of their ancestors.
35:1 Josiah observed a Passover festival for the Lord in Jerusalem. They slaughtered the Passover lambs on the fourteenth day of the first month. 2 He appointed the priests to fulfill their duties and encouraged them to carry out their service in the Lord’s temple. 3 He told the Levites, who instructed all Israel about things consecrated to the Lord, “Place the holy ark in the temple which King Solomon son of David of Israel built. Don’t carry it on your shoulders. Now serve the Lord your God and his people Israel! 4 Prepare yourselves by your families according to your divisions, as instructed in writing by King David of Israel and his son Solomon. 5 Stand in the sanctuary and, together with the Levites, represent the family divisions of your countrymen. 6 Slaughter the Passover lambs, consecrate yourselves, and make preparations for your countrymen to celebrate according to the Lord’s message which came through Moses.”
7 From his own royal flocks and herds, Josiah supplied the people with 30,000 lambs and goats for the Passover sacrifice, as well as 3,000 cattle. 8 His officials also willingly contributed to the people, priests, and Levites. Hilkiah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, the leaders of God’s temple, gave the priests 2,600 Passover sacrifices and 300 cattle. 9 Konaniah and his brothers Shemaiah and Nethanel, along with Hashabiah, Jeiel, and Jozabad, the officials of the Levites, supplied the Levites with 5,000 Passover sacrifices and 500 cattle. 10 Preparations were made, and the priests stood at their posts and the Levites in their divisions as prescribed by the king. 11 They slaughtered the Passover lambs and the priests splashed the blood, while the Levites skinned the animals. 12 They reserved the burnt offerings and the cattle for the family divisions of the people to present to the Lord, as prescribed in the scroll of Moses. 13 They cooked the Passover sacrifices over the open fire as prescribed and cooked the consecrated offerings in pots, kettles, and pans. They quickly served them to all the people. 14 Afterward they made preparations for themselves and for the priests, because the priests, the descendants of Aaron, were offering burnt sacrifices and fat portions until evening. The Levites made preparations for themselves and for the priests, the descendants of Aaron. 15 The musicians, the descendants of Asaph, manned their posts, as prescribed by David, Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun the king’s prophet. The guards at the various gates did not need to leave their posts, for their fellow Levites made preparations for them. 16 So all the preparations for the Lord’s service were made that day, as the Passover was observed and the burnt sacrifices were offered on the altar of the Lord, as prescribed by King Josiah. 17 So the Israelites who were present observed the Passover at that time, as well as the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days. 18 A Passover like this had not been observed in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had observed a Passover like the one celebrated by Josiah, the priests, the Levites, all the people of Judah and Israel who were there, and the residents of Jerusalem. 19 This Passover was observed in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign.
20 After Josiah had done all this for the temple, King Necho of Egypt marched up to do battle at Carchemish on the Euphrates River. Josiah marched out to oppose him. 21 Necho sent messengers to him, saying, “Why are you opposing me, O king of Judah? I am not attacking you today, but the kingdom with which I am at war. God told me to hurry. Stop opposing God, who is with me, or else he will destroy you.” 22 But Josiah did not turn back from him; he disguised himself for battle. He did not take seriously the words of Necho that he had received from God; he went to fight him in the Plain of Megiddo. 23 Archers shot King Josiah; the king ordered his servants, “Take me out of this chariot, for I am seriously wounded.” 24 So his servants took him out of the chariot, put him in another chariot that he owned, and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his ancestors; all the people of Judah and Jerusalem mourned Josiah. 25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah which all the male and female singers use to mourn Josiah to this very day. It has become customary in Israel to sing these; they are recorded in the Book of Laments.
26 The rest of the events of Josiah’s reign, including the faithful acts he did in obedience to what is written in the law of the Lord 27 and his accomplishments, from start to finish, are recorded in the Scroll of the Kings of Israel and Judah.
36:1 The people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and made him king in his father’s place in Jerusalem. 2 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. 3 The king of Egypt prevented him from ruling in Jerusalem and imposed on the land a special tax of 100 talents of silver and a talent of gold. 4 The king of Egypt made Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. Necho seized his brother Jehoahaz and took him to Egypt.
5 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God. 6 King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked him, bound him with bronze chains, and carried him away to Babylon. 7 Nebuchadnezzar took some of the items in the Lord’s temple to Babylon and put them in his palace there.
8 The rest of the events of Jehoiakim’s reign, including the horrible sins he committed and his shortcomings, are recorded in the Scroll of the Kings of Israel and Judah. His son Jehoiachin replaced him as king.
9 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the Lord. 10 At the beginning of the year King Nebuchadnezzar ordered him to be brought to Babylon, along with the valuable items in the Lord’s temple. In his place Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiachin’s relative Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.
11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he ruled for eleven years in Jerusalem. 12 He did evil in the sight of the Lord his God. He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, the Lord’s spokesman. 13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him vow allegiance in the name of God. He was stubborn and obstinate and refused to return to the Lord God of Israel. 14 All the leaders of the priests and people became more unfaithful and committed the same horrible sins practiced by the nations. They defiled the Lord’s temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.
15 The Lord God of their ancestors continually warned them through his messengers, for he felt compassion for his people and his dwelling place. 16 But they mocked God’s messengers, despised his warnings, and ridiculed his prophets. Finally the Lord got very angry at his people and there was no one who could prevent his judgment. 17 He brought against them the king of the Babylonians, who slaughtered their young men in their temple. He did not spare young men or women, or even the old and aging. God handed everyone over to him. 18 He carried away to Babylon all the items in God’s temple, whether large or small, as well as what was in the treasuries of the Lord’s temple and in the treasuries of the king and his officials. 19 They burned down God’s temple and tore down the wall of Jerusalem. They burned all its fortified buildings and destroyed all its valuable items. 20 He deported to Babylon all who escaped the sword. They served him and his sons until the Persian kingdom rose to power. 21 This took place to fulfill the Lord’s message spoken through Jeremiah and lasted until the land experienced its sabbatical years. All the time of its desolation the land rested in order to fulfill the seventy years.
22 In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in fulfillment of the Lord’s message spoken through Jeremiah, the Lord motivated King Cyrus of Persia to issue a proclamation throughout his kingdom and also to put it in writing. It read:
23 “This is what King Cyrus of Persia says:
‘The Lord God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. He has appointed me to build a temple for him in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Anyone of his people among you may go up there, and may the Lord his God be with him.’”