Today's devotion from 2 Chronicles 35.
It's one thing to experience tragedy. It's something completely different to experience a tragedy that could have been avoided. After the celebratory atmosphere centered on Josiah's observance of the Passover, we have high hopes for the present state of Israel. However, this is not to be the case.
Apparently, Neco of Egypt was moving north to come to the aid of his Assyrian allies in an altercation against the growing threat in Babylon. The quickest way for him to get there is via the sea route where Josiah assembled men to confront him. There are many various scholarly speculations ranging from assassination to Josiah's attempt to reintegrate Israel into his Judean kingdom. However, we really just can't understand why Josiah would pick this fight.
Not only was the fight unnecessary, but the chronicler even states that Neco was being led by the Lord and issued a warning to Josiah. (As an aside, just think of what could have happened had Neco been successful in helping Assyria overcome Babylon. There would have been no Babylonian captivity short years after Josiah's death.) Maybe Josiah was driven by arrogance? Maybe he was too proud? Whatever the case, he met his end as the result of the events that day on the battlefield. And with him, so goes Judah.
The tragic circumstances of his death led the people to mourn and Jeremiah to lament, but the true tragedy was not the death of Josiah. He was the last of the decent kings. As stated, Judah is on the brink of Babylonian captivity due to their inability and unwillingness to walk with God. Josiah's reforms were the last blinding rays of hope before darkness enveloped the Promised Land, but it was too little, too late.
That inevitable end comes just as the prophetess foretold in 2 Chronicles 34. However, God has not hastened to judgment. How many cycles have we seen recorded throughout the chronicles? Time and again He has been lenient in extending grace to the people. Time and again they have rejected His offer.
If we've seen anything in our time together in 2 Chronicles, its that God is not seated on a throne with lightning bolt in hand. He is not quick to punish. God wasn't out to get the Israelites, and He's not out to get you either. Don't reject His loving offer of grace and mercy today. Even if you've made mistakes and you're frustrated with yourself, don't believe the lie that God is down on you. He wants you to succeed, and gives every offer He can...just don't make the mistake of waiting until it's too late.