In 2 Chr 35.1-27 we learn that Josiah directs the priests and the Levites to celebrate Passover, slaughtering the lambs on Nisan 14. He set the priests in their offices and “Mishmarot”( or “courses”) according to 1 Chr 24.1-19. Only certain priests served at certain times and he encouraged them in the “service” or “avodah” of the Temple that was given by Yehovah in 1 Chr 28.11-19 and Rom 9.4. This involved the ceremonies, prayers, songs to be sung, readings and how everything was to be done. Many people think that the offerings and what was done in the Temple was devised by the Jewish people, but it wasn’t. It was given by Yehovah himself to David, then to Solomon, and then to the Jewish people to perform. That is why you could not just do whatever you wanted in the Temple services, either adding to or detracting from what God has prescribed (1 Chr 28.19)
Now we are going to learn something very interesting in 2 Chr 35.3. We learn that Josiah tells the Levites to “Put the holy (had a kedusha) ark in the house which Solomon the son of David king of Israel built; it will be a burden on your shoulders now longer. Now serve Yehovah your God and the people of Israel.” The Levites will no longer have the duties of carrying the ark like they did in the wilderness because it was going to stay on the Temple Mount.
Is this prophetic? Judgement was coming, according to Jeremiah and the prophets. On p. 309 of the book “Divrei Ha Yamim II” by Mesorah Publications, it says, “A bitter exile stretched before them and they needed to be prepared for fundamental changes. The removal of the Ark became a highly significant part of their education. They would have to learn to survive spiritually without it. Our phrase may mean as follows: There was a time when Israel wandered through a desert and you, the Levites, accompanied them, proudly bearing the Ark-symbol of God’s presence among them-on your shoulders. Israel is about to embark once more upon a trek through the desert-one infinitely more terrible and frightening than the other-the wilderness of the nations (Ezekiel 20.35; and see Artscroll edition there). But in this wilderness you will not accompany them with the Ark on your shoulders. It will remain, hidden in its vault, until the ultimate redemption.”
The Ark is still on the Temple Mount today, waiting for the Messianic Redemption with Yeshua the Messiah. This tells us that the Ark was never taken to Ethiopia by Menelek, the son of Solomon, or anyone else. It also tells us that Pharaoh Shishak didn’t take it 300 years earlier, as some believe (1 Kings 14.25-28). There are many so-called prophecy teachers out there that have written books and they say the Ark is in Ethiopia, or in some cave near the Dead Sea, but all that is nonsense. We can refute those theories with one word, “Kedusha.”
This concept is at the heart of what went on the Temple. The Temple was called the “Beit Ha Mikdash” which means “House of Kedusha.” Kedusha means “to designate or set apart for the service of God by formal and legal restrictions or limitations. The kedusha of periods of time are marked by limits on man’s activities of work and construction.” In other words, the Ark was to remain on the Temple Mount. It could never be taken away to some other locality that did not have the same level of kedusha as the Holy of Holies.
Here is an example of this concept. In the time of the Maccabean war, the Temple had been defiled by the Antiochus and the Greeks, but eventually the Jews gained control of the Temple again. But the altar of burnt offering had been defiled and they had to build a new one, but they did not know what to do with the old stones because they just couldn’t throw them away because of kedusha. The Maccabean leaders were priests and were familiar with the concept. So they decided to keep them on the Temple Mount and they were eventually stored in the Beit Ha Moked on the northwest corner of the Temple area, until a prophet came along and told them what to do with them (1 Maccabees 4.42-46). So, in the same way, we believe that the Ark is on the Temple Mount because of kedusha.
In the Mishnah, Shekalim 6.1-2 it says, “There were thirteen shofar chests, thirteen tables, and thirteen prostrations in the Temple (Middot 2.3..in thanksgiving for the deliverance of the Temple by the Maccabees). They of the House of Gamaliel and of the House of R. Hanina the Prefect (the Sagan or deputy High Priest) used to make fourteen prostrations. And where was the added one? Opposite the wood-store, for thus was the tradition among them from their forefathers, that there the Ark lay hidden. Once a priest was occupied therein and he saw a block of pavement that was different than the rest. He went and told it to his fellow, but before he could make an end of the matter his life departed. So they knew assuredly that there the Ark lay hidden.”
The Ark is hidden under the Deir Ha Etz, or the Wood Chamber, of the Temple, on the south side of the Temple complex. The concept of kedusha prevents it from leaving the Temple Mount. Solomon built a place on the Temple Mount to hide the Ark if the Temple turned from God, and this was according to the plan of God (1 Chr 28.11-19). In 2 Chr 35.3, Josiah moved the Ark during the repairs to the Temple, which would have included the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim (Holy of Holies). It is possible he took it to the place Solomon had prepared under the Deir Ha Etz chamber where it is today. It has the same level of kedusha as the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim. Anything with a certain level of kedusha cannot go to a lower level of kedusha.
Josiah and his princes supplied the people with animals for the Passover festival. Everything was prepared and done as the Lord required in the Torah, and they slaughtered the Passover. The priests immediately sprinkled the blood, and the Levites skinned them (v 11). They roasted the the Passover in what is called a “meal consecrated to God” or a Lord’s Supper, and they boiled the holy things in pots, kettles and pans (what you could not do with the lambs (Exo 12.9) and carried them to the lay people and eaten within the city. This is not a New Testament concept, but is seen throughout the Tanak. What Christianity has reduced it to is a thimble full of grape juice and a cracker, and it is a shame. It has little resemblance to the First Century concept of a Lord’s Supper. Now, we said earlier that the Levites skinned the animals but this is very unusual because the priests usually did it.
So all the service of the Lord was prepared on that day to celebrate the Passover, and to offer burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord as commanded by King Josiah. The sons of Israel who were present (they had to be in Jerusalem and the Temple) celebrated the Passover at that time, and the Festival of Hag Ha Matzah (Unleavened Bread). There had been no Passover kept in Israel like this one since the days of Samuel the prophet (v 18).
After Josiah had set the Temple in order, Pharaoh Neco of Egypt came to make war at Charchemish and Josiah went out to engage him as he moved north through Israel (v 20-27). There was a geopolitical struggle going on between the declining Assyrian Empire and the rising Babylonian Empire. The Assyrians had made an alliance with the Egyptians to try and stop Babylon from advancing towards Egypt. Israel is stuck in the middle, and Josiah attacked Egypt even after Neco warned him not get involved. Josiah is trying to throw off the Assyrian yoke, so he is coming to the aid of the Babylonians.
He enters into a battle at Megiddo, trying to intercept Egypt before they could help Assyria. Josiah disguises himself (like Ahab tried to do) but is killed by an arrow as he was riding in his chariot. They put him another chariot and brought him to Jerusalem where he died. We can’t help but wonder at the similarities between the death of Ahab and the death of Josiah. Each king disguised himself; each were shot by arrows; each said they were wounded; both were propped up in their chariots and later died.
Eschatologically, Pharaoh Neco is a picture of the False Messiah. Egypt is a picture of Europe, who will be allied with Russia (Assyria) after Russia is destroyed after they invade Israel at the end of the third, beginning of the fourth, year of the Birth-pains. The Kings of the East (army of Babylon) are advancing against the False Messiah who tries to stop them (Rev 16.12). Josiah is a picture of the believers in the Birth-pains who rise up against the False Messiah and are defeated at Megiddo.
After Josiah dies, Jeremiah gives a “kinah” or “lamentation” (v 25). Jeremiah has been saying all along that Babylon should not be resisted because God was going to use them to judge Judah. Whenever a “dirge” or lamentation is done for some sorrowful event, the singers will remember the loss of Josiah and they are written in the Lamentations (35.25). However, this is not the Book of Lamentations in the Tanak, but it is a book that is lost. The Book of Lamentations is about Zedekiah and Jerusalem. The reign of Josiah is a picture of the sixth year of the Birth-pains eschatologically.
2 Chr 36.1-23 tells us about the last four kings of Judah. Josiah was the last hope for the rebirth of Israel in righteousness, but to no avail. Now the decline will be sharp, swift and decisive with no hope of recovery. Two of these last four kings reigned three months, and the other two will reign for eleven years each. This is not a coincidence, this is a pattern that Yehovah has set forth for us to notice. It means something.
The names of these last four kings are Yehoahaz (Yah has grasped), Yehoiakim (Yah has raised up), Yehoichin (Yah has established) and Zedekiah (Yehovah is righteous). These kings did evil in the sight of God and Zedekiah also rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar. The people were very unfaithful to God and worshiped idols and defiling the Temple.
Yehovah has had enough and has been warning the people through his prophets and messengers that judgment was coming and he wanted the people to repent. But they continually mocked these messengers and prophets, despising God’s words to them. As a result, God brought up the Chaldeans who had no compassion on the people. The Temple and the city of Jerusalem were destroyed and all the articles and treasures of the Temple were brought to Babylon (except the Ark). Then the Babylonians burned the Temple and broke down the walls of Jerusalem. Those who escaped from the sword he took captive and were carried away to Babylon. Zedekiah was the last king, and he watched as his sons were killed before him, and then his eyes were put out. It was the last thing he ever saw.
This fulfilled the word of the Lord through Jeremiah until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths (Jer 29.10; Lev 26.33, 25.4). In the first year of the reign of King Cyrus seventy years later, in order to fulfill these words of Jeremiah and the seventy year captivity, Yehovah stirred up the heart (desire) of Cyrus to proclaim throughout his kingdom that the Jewish people could return back to the land. This teaches us that kings, emperors and presidents do not do whatever they want, but their heart and spirit is a channel for the will and plan of God to be accomplished in the earth.
The last four kings of Judah will be a picture of the seventh year of the Birth-pains because things will be moving very fast. The last two verses of this chapter and book (v 22-23) are the same as Ezra 1.1-3, and there is a good reason for that. It seems that Ezra wrote Chronicles, and the Book of Ezra picks up right where he left off. For a deeper eschatological view of the last ten kings of Judah, we refer you to our teaching on these kings in 2 Kings 15 through 25 on this site.