Text: 2 Chronicles Chapters 35-36
OBSERVE: Chapter 35 begins with King Josiah celebrating the Passover. When the Law was read to young King Josiah and he realized just how far the people of Israel had fallen away, he was determined to obey all the commands of God, which included the celebration of the Passover. We read that the Passover had not been celebrated with this much faithfulness for a long time and that this celebration was followed by the return of the Ark to the Temple. Josiah brought a lot of hope to the people through his faithful reign, however, he is killed when he goes to fight in a military battle that the Lord warned him not to engage in.
Chapter 36 takes us through the failure and fall of many kings. Jehoahaz is taken away captive to Egypt, Jehoiakim is taken off captive to Babylon along with the vessels of God while Jehoiachin is also taken off captive to Babylon. Eventually Zedekiah fails to listen to the prophet Jeremiah and watches as Jerusalem is defeated. Zedekiah eventually meets his end at the hands of the Babylonians. All of these kings were unfaithful to their God and were evil in the ways of the Lord. The book of Chronicles does however end on a positive note, as the Decree of Cyrus is mentioned which is meant to provide hope to the readers of the post-exilic period.
INTERPRET: The writer of Chronicles needed to explain the failure of Israel as a kingdom. So the chronicler started and ended the narrative by describing the unfaithfulness of Israel’s rulers as seen in the following verses:
So Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord. He failed to obey the Lord’s command, and he even consulted a medium. (1 Chronicles 10:13)
Likewise, all the leaders of the priests and people became more and more unfaithful. They followed the pagan practices of the surrounding nations, desecrating the Temple of the Lord that had been consecrated in Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 36: 14)
Over and over again, Israel’s prophets, priests, and kings were unfaithful. God’s people longed for someone to rule over them who would not chase after idols, who would persevere in loving God’s law, who would rule with righteousness that would last. But no human has the power to be that faithful. King Josiah was the closest to achieving this, but even his heart and passion for God was not enough to keep him faithful all the way to death. Nor did his kingship create any long lasting effect - as we clearly read in chapter 36.
APPLICATION: This is why the Israelites needed the Promised Faithful King; this is why we need Jesus. Jesus is the faithful leader that the people of God had always longed for. In fact, at the end of history, in the book of Revelation, Jesus is called by the name Faithful. “Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider was named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war” (Revelation 19:11).
As followers of Jesus, we can have great faith in the faithfulness of the faithful one. Not only is Jesus faithful but he also empowers us by his Spirit to be faithful like he is. It is his faithfulness at work in us that will allow us to enjoy hearing him one day say to us: “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25: 21). And when we doubt that his will ever happen, we remember, “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” (Thessalonians 5: 24). Great is thy faithfulness!
REFLECTION: Upon reflection, do you recognize any comparisons to the failures of the kingdom of Israel and your own personal kingdom? How much more than do you recognize your need for the one who is truly faithful? Do you still doubt in the faithfulness of The Faithful One?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus; you are faithful and true. I am holding on to your faithful promise that you will keep me strong to the end so that I will be blameless on that day when you bring everything to light. How I long to hear you say “well done” on that day. It’s your Spirit at work inside me that makes me confident that this day will surely come. AMEN.
SONG: Great Is Thy Faithfulness
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