He did not take seriously the words of Necho which he had received from God. (2 Chronicles 35:22)
I was really struck by this passage of scripture this morning. Josiah was a remarkable king. He was a man who followed hard after God and desired righteousness. When he heard the Law of God, he was cut to the heart and followed God's law to the very letter.
No king before or after repented before the LORD as he did, with his whole heart, soul, and being in accordance with the whole law of Moses. (2 Kings 23:25)
And yet in the end, he died ingloriously in a battle that he should not have fought. While he obeyed the Law of God, he did not heed God's voice.
In both of the accounts of Josiah in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, Josiah is praised for following God in ways that no other king had done.
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. (2 Chronicles 35:18)
This is a remarkable statement when you consider the great men of God who had gone before him:
- David, the man after God's own heart.
- Jehoshaphat, the great educator of things of God and reformer.
- Hezekiah, a man of conviction and deep faith.
And yet none of these men followed the law of God like Josiah. Following the most wicked kings to come out of Judah and Israel, Josiah shines forth in brilliant light, relentlessly and accurately following God's ways. But God did use all of these men mightily and blessed their obedience and trust in Him, even when they were not following the absolute letter of the law.
The true tragedy of Josiah is seen in his death.
But Josiah did not turn back from him; he disguised himself for battle. He did not take seriously the words of Necho which he had received from God; he went to fight him in the Plain of Megiddo. Archers shot King Josiah; the king ordered his servants, "Take me out of this chariot, for I am seriously wounded." 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. (2 Chronicles 35:22-24)
The Bible, the written Word of God, is absolutely vital to the Christian's life. The Gospel has been once-for-all delivered to us as well as they way in which we are to walk. It is the standard against which all doctrine and lifestyle is measured and weighed. We can rest in its truths because God does not change; His character is a constant, His faithfulness absolutely trustworthy. This is why His words and the words of His prophets and apostles were recorded in the scriptures, the testimony of who God is and what He has done and will do.
But we dare not dismiss the Voice of God when He speaks. Josiah "did not take seriously" the words that God had spoken to the Egyptian king. He did not believe that Necho could have received instruction from God or that his actions against Necho would be judged because he was opposing God.
Do not treat prophesies with contempt. But examine all things; hold fast to what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21)
We must not automatically disregard a fellow believer -- especially one whose walk is pure and blameless and who fears God -- when they say that God has spoken to them. We need to test those words and consider them. Take it before God in prayer for confirmation. In essence, test that word for accuracy according to the scriptures and the revealed character of God.
Let Josiah's example be a reminder of the importance of heeding the living Word of God.