Josiah has recommitted to following ALL of God’s Law. One part of that Law was the observances of His feasts. Passover is again celebrated in Judah.
This is not the first Passover celebration or the last but it is special. The writer of Chronicles, under the hand of the Holy Spirit, tells us so. “No Passover like it has 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” (verse 18).
I wonder what makes this one even more special that the one Hezekiah kept. Is it because it was kept EXACTLY as God had commanded? Was it the generosity of the king and the officials? Was it the people’s hearts? Was it because the whole land had been cleansed of idols? Was it because the remnant of Israel joined in? Was it because all who came were ‘clean’? In Josiah’s Passover celebration the king’s contribution was larger but the officials was smaller and it was also celebrated on the correct date. The people had also just recommitted to the full covenant with God.
Something else I noticed when looking back on the Passover Hezekiah celebrated was that there were several ‘accommodations’ made in this celebration for multiple reasons. A large number of these accommodations were done by vote of the people. The date change and the extension of it by another week are two specific incidences I noticed. The inclusion of those who were left in Israel who were ‘unclean’ may not have been done by a vote but there was no outcry against it. The king’s prayer for God’s mercy on them was gracious and beautiful, in my mind. NONE were excluded; all were welcome.
But that is not how the Book of the Law commands and not how it is going to be in the end. As hard as it may be to accept, there ARE standards God will not compromise on. We see His firm line in at least two of Jesus’ stories. The first is when He tells His disciples that in the end there will be those who claimed to have been ‘working’ for Him all along but they never “knew” Him. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
The second is His story about the marriage supper. In that story those who were invited refused to come. The king then sent out his servants to bring in anyone they found. When they arrived though they had to be cleaned up and properly dressed. One person didn’t follow this requirement. He came in and sat down just as he was. He was quickly noticed by the king and was thrown out.
Hezekiah’s allowances for the refugees was beautiful but not lawful. Josiah followed God’s law fully when celebrating this Passover. He didn’t do “what seemed right” but as the Lord had commanded. The people were required to go through the process of preparations required for this Holy Day.
Josiah did something else that is reflected in Jesus’ second story. He supplied the things needed for the celebration. The king in the story supplied the wedding garments. Josiah supplied the sacrifices. The people in both cases needed only come with a sincere heart and a willingness to accept the king’s offer.
Our King makes such an offer. He DOES welcome EVERYONE. But there are ‘entry requirements’ that He will not budge on. You can’t get in under your own righteousness. You have to lay your claims of being a ‘good person’ aside. You CANNOT be ‘good’ enough to earn your way into Heaven. Entry into Heaven isn’t like a buffet table or a lengthy menu. There is ONE ‘door’ and that is belief in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and His atoning work. And after ‘entry’ there are expectations BECAUSE of that choice. No, we do not follow all the requirements of the Law as Jesus fulfilled the Law but we also don’t live like the world. We ‘change our clothes’ as His guests are required to. As His children He is patient with us and guides us in meeting His expectations.
I have no idea how I got off on this track. It is not where I thought we would be going. The Spirit knows the path we should take and He directs my mind that way. One last observation. The Passover celebrated by Josiah lasted all day. The priests and Levites made sure EVERYONE was served and cared for. The Levites even took the time to prepare meals for the priests and those who were on duty somewhere in the Temple. Our celebration in Heaven will last FOREVER. And EVERYONE will be ‘served’ and included. NONE will go hungry or be forgotten. I’m looking forward to that day.
Father God, thank You for doing ‘all the heavy lifting’ for me. There is NO WAY I could get to You on my own. I fully recognize and accept this fact. Thank You for all the changes You have authored in me over our time together. I know I still have a LONG way to go. My judgment of another this morning is a prime example of that. And the Spirit’s voice checking me on it is proof positive that You are STILL working in me. Thank You for NEVER giving up on me. I wonder what changes You still have in store for me.