Daily Readings and Thought for November 6th. FROM TRUMPH TO TRAGEDY
Our Chronicles reading today tells us of how a Passover celebration was organised by King Josiah (recall our thoughts yesterday) and that “No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet” [2 Chron. 35 v.18] Josiah was highly thought of, but 13 years later he got unwisely involved in a conflict between Assyria and Egypt and was fatally wounded. There was great sadness, “Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah.” [v.25]. Jeremiah must have been a young man then.
After his death it took less than 23 years and the reigns of 4 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 seemed to reach such spiritual heights with such a Passover and righteous King!
The probable answer 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.” [v.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 v.5,6] After Josiah’s death the people were led by kings all of whom “did evil in the sight of the Lord” [36 v.5,9,13] “and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful.” [v.14]
God provided his son Jesus as a sacrifice for us – do we fully appreciate this? Does it affect our conscience, our hearts? If our appreciation is only intellectual, a ritual in which our heart is not meaningfully involved, the final outcome will be as great a disaster as it was in those days.