“During the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, Josiah began to seek the God of his ancestor David. Then in the twelfth year he began to purify Judah and Jerusalem” (II Chronicles 34:3a, NLT). Having done away with the idols the people had been worshiping, Josiah was fervently seeking to restore the Temple and worship of the One True God at the time the priest Hilkiah found the Book of Instruction that had been forgotten in the long-neglected Temple.
Hilkiah had uncovered the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament, written by Moses and also called “the Book of the Law.” He showed it to Josiah, who immediately repented, saying, “The Lord’s great anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll. We have not been doing everything it says we must do” (II Kings 22:13b). Afterwards, Josiah read the Book to all the people and he and “all the people pledged themselves to the covenant” (II Kings 23:3b).
Then Josiah reinstituted the celebration of Passover. “None of the kings of Israel had ever kept a Passover as Josiah did, involving all the priests and Levites, all the people of Jerusalem, and people from all over Judah and Israel. This Passover celebration took place in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign” (II Chronicles 35:18b-19). Josiah and the people of Judah turned to the Lord and their country was blessed for their obedience.
Josiah ruled over Judah for another thirteen years. But then he messed up. Two huge empires were struggling for world power: the Assyrians and the Babylonians. When Josiah heard that “King Neco of Egypt led his army up from Egypt to do battle at Carchemish on the Euphrates River… Josiah and his army marched out to fight him” (II Chronicles 35:20b).
Why would Josiah take his army out to fight the Egyptians who were in no way bothering Judah? He was choosing sides. Egypt, having allied itself with the Assyrians, was headed into battle against the Babylonians. Josiah, deciding to align himself with the empire he expected to come out on top, decided to attack the Egyptian army.
See, the Assyrian capital of Nineveh had been conquered by the Babylonians, forcing the Assyrians to move their capital first to Harran, which was also taken over by the Babylonians, and then to Carchemish. The Egyptian army was on its way to help the Assyrians prevent the Babylonians from taking over Carchemish. But Josiah decided to stick his nose in the battle.
Judah was in no danger whatsoever. The only reason for choosing sides was in the hope of having the Babylonians look favorably on Judah. In other words, Josiah wanted the Babylonians as an ally. No matter how powerful the other forces, when you’ve got the God of the Universe on your side, you don’t need another ally – He is all-sufficient.
“King Neco sent messengers to Josiah with this message: ‘What do you want with me, king of Judah? I have no quarrel with you today! I am on my way to fight another nation, and God has told me to hurry! Do not interfere with God, who is with me, or He will destroy you.’ But Josiah refused to listen to Neco, to whom God had indeed spoken, and he would not turn back” (II Chronicles 35:21-22a).
Josiah had no reason to believe that God had truly spoken to the Egyptian leader. But neither did Josiah have any reason for a back-up plan like having the Babylonians on Judah’s side. Wasn’t God more than enough to watch over Judah?
If Jesus Christ is not sufficient, He’s not God. If He is your God, He’s more than enough to sustain you. Align yourself fully with the Savior and let Him deal with the enemies around you.
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates