After Josiah’s death, the Chronicler gives short shrift to the remaining kings of Judah and the kingdom’s last twenty-two years. Josiah is Judah’s last good king, though the circumstances of his death lead us to call him “good king Josiah” with a bit of pause.
As chapter twenty-five comes to an end, Josiah makes a tragic mistake. The kingdom of Babylon is on the rise and Assyria is in decline. Pharaoh Necho of Egypt decided to ally himself with Assyria in order to defeat Babylon. Josiah evidently thought such an alliance was not in his best interest and set out to foil it by fighting Necho at Megiddo.
Pharaoh was in no mood to play around. He had already marched his men over 300 miles. They still had over four hundred to go. He was not threatening Judah and wanted no conflict, but Josiah persisted. God sent word through Necho that Josiah was to stand down, but Josiah persisted, and lost his life.
The attentive reader will note some similarities between Josiah’s death and that of Ahab years before (2 Chronicles 18). Both went out in disobedience to the Lord’s command. Both disguised themselves. Both were wounded by archers. Both were settled in their chariots until the fighting was over.
A major difference is in their legacies. Ahab was just wicked. Josiah was a good king whose reputation lived past him. But both died in disobedience. Despite the fact that Josiah was a much beloved and respected king, his successors chose not to follow in his path and chose the way of disobedience to God. The book of Chronicles ends with the return of Judah from captivity.
It’s up to them.
God loves His people and will be true to His promises – if His people will be true to Him. This is the message of Chronicles.