2 Chronicles 34
It’s Josiah again! Why is his story told twice? A week or so ago, we looked at 2 Kings 22, and we’ve got essentially the same story again today, in 2 Chronicles 34. Why? The books of Chronicles repeat much of what is in 1 & 2 Kings, but often include additional detail, and link Israel’s history back to Adam (1 Chron. 1:1) and forward to Cyrus (2 Chron. 36:22 & 23), marking the end of the exile. These books, possibly compiled by Ezra, were written chiefly to encourage the returned exiles in their rebuilding of the temple, and emphasize the importance of obedience to the law of the Lord under the Lord’s anointed king.
v3-7 of our chapter give details, not mentioned in Kings, of how, at the age of 16, Josiah ‘began to seek the God of his father David, and how, 4 years later, ‘he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles and idols’. Even as a young man, he is hungry for God, and later demonstrates his devotion with a concern to stamp out idolatry and the worship of false gods (see also v33).
v8-18 are an expanded version of 2 Kings 22: 3-10, v19-28 are almost identical to 2 Kings 22:11-20, and v29-33 are similar to 2 Ki 23:1-7. Josiah himself reads ‘all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord’ (v30), and renews the covenant, the binding promise or contract by which the Lord had bound Israel to himself, and himself to Israel. This covenant is wonderfully summarised in, for example, Ex. 6:7 ‘I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God,’ and Lev. 26:12 ‘I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.’ This same 2-way commitment (him to us, and us to him) continues in the New Covenant: ‘our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good’ (Titus 2:14). Paul reminds us that we are ‘God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved’ (Col. 3:12), and Peter tells us we are ‘a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession’ (1 Pet. 2:9). We need to respond to Josiah’s call to the people (v31) for heart-and-soul obedience to the word of the Lord, following him without fail, wherever he leads us, serving him willingly and gratefully, delighting in his faithful presence.