Josiah’s Passover

“No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (v. 18).

- 2 Chronicles 35:1–19

Reformation of faith and worship entails not only putting away what is false but also promoting what is true. The Protestant Reformers, for instance, did not merely do away with corrupted worship practices and doctrines; they also taught the people the true biblical faith and restructured worship to bring it into line with God’s Word. In this, they were following the model of kings such as Josiah, who led Judah in reformation near the end of the seventh century BC.

We have already seen how Josiah tore down the places of false worship in Judah and put to death the pagan priests in the territory he controlled (2 Kings 23:1–20). He also “put away the mediums and the necromancers and the household gods and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem” (v. 24). Today’s passage describes how Josiah not only took things away in reforming the covenant community but also “added” elements, restoring biblical practices that had fallen into neglect. A key part of Josiah’s reform involved a massive celebration of the Passover (2 Chron. 35:1–19; see 2 Kings 23:21–23).

Commentators note that, compared to the Passover celebrated during the reign of Hezekiah, about twice as many animals were sacrificed and consumed during the feast held by Josiah (2 Chron. 30:23–27; 35:7–9). Only at the dedication of the temple during Solomon’s reign were more animals offered up to the Lord (7:5). Thus, it is not merely hyperbole for the Chronicler—the author of 1–2 Chronicles—to state that no Passover like it had been held among the people of God since the days of Samuel (35:18). These facts were particularly noteworthy for the original audience of 2 Chronicles. That audience, consisting of the exiles who had returned from Babylon and were facing great hardship in rebuilding the promised land, needed encouragement to eagerly and lavishly celebrate the appointed feast of Passover, which marked the redemption of Israel from Egypt in the days of Moses. As they struggled to restore life in the promised land to normalcy, they needed to know that God wanted them to celebrate His work with great joy even when circumstances were not conducive to it.

There is a lesson here for us. Though we will walk through trials, we should eagerly and lavishly celebrate the great redemption we enjoy in Christ.

Coram Deo

We should not discount the real trials that we face or pretend that things on this side of glory are better than they really are. That does not mean, however, that we should practice an austere religion devoid of all joy. God wants us to celebrate His great acts of salvation and to do so with great measure. When we have opportunity to celebrate God’s salvation, let us do so joyfully.

Passages for Further Study

Deuteronomy 16:1–17
Esther 9:20–32
Philippians 4:4
Revelation 19:6–10

First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier. For permissions, view our Copyright Policy.