Today in Chronicles we read of the Passover celebration organised by King Josiah. “No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet” (2 Chronicles 35:18). Josiah was highly thought of, but thirteen years later unwisely he became involved in a conflict between Assyria and Egypt and was fatally wounded. There was great sadness, “Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah” (2 Chronicles 35:25). Jeremiah must have been a young man then. After Josiah’s death it took less than 23 years and the reigns of four weak and unspiritual kings before Jerusalem and the temple were utterly destroyed.
Is there an underlying reason for this collapse of spirituality? The nation and the people had reached great spiritual heights with such a Passover and righteous King! The answer probably lies in the detail of today’s chapter. In keeping that impressive Passover, it was the King, the priests and the Levites who provided the sacrificial offerings, which totalled 37,000 lambs and 3,800 bulls, Josiah himself providing most of them “from the king’s possessions” (2 Chronicles 35:7).
So this great Passover did not cost the ordinary people anything! Was it no more than a great free feast for most of them? Prophets, led by Isaiah had repeatedly warned the people that they must have the right attitude in approaching God, “You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold … all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment”, wrote Isaiah (64:5,6).
After Josiah’s death the people were led by kings all of whom “did evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 36:5,9,13) “and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful” (verse 14).
God provided His son Jesus as a sacrifice for us; do we appreciate this? Does it affect our conscience, our hearts? If our appreciation is only intellectual, a ritual in which our heart is not fully involved, the final outcome will be as great a disaster as it was in those days.