Today I led my church family on our journey to get closer to our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. I preached about a 35 to 40 minute sermon on the fall of the “Southern Kingdom” of Judah following the untimely death of the good King Josiah on the battlefield at Megiddo. Titled “Neco & Nebuchadnezzar” (the two Kings mostly responsible for the final fall of Judah) – it was the follow-up (or sequel) to my previous sermon of 4 weeks ago titled “Josiah & Judah” which was all about the 31-year reign of King Josiah.
Here’s an excerpt of my sermon:
King Josiah didn’t see the end of his life coming, and as the Bible says:
While Josiah was King – Pharaoh Neco – King of Egypt – went to the Euphrates River to help the King of Assyria. King Josiah and his army marched out to fight him, but King Neco killed him when they met at Megiddo. (2 Kings 23:29)
… So the year is 609 B.C. Josiah was the King of Judah – the smaller “Southern Kingdom” of the Jewish homeland. Jerusalem and Bethlehem were both in Judah – the far-northern part of Judah. To its north was the Kingdom of Assyria – or the Assyrian Empire. That northern part was once the Kingdom of Israel. That’s when there were two divided Kingdoms – Israel and Judah. And of course before that they were one United Kingdom – of Israel and Judah. After the split the two Kingdoms started as bitter enemies, but then they ended-up as somewhat friendly allies. Bethel and Samaria were both in the “Northern Kingdom”.
So King Josiah heard (through the grapevine) that Pharaoh Neco – the King of Egypt – and his loyal army – were to march northward – out of Egypt (along the coastline of the Mediterranean Sea) – and then inland – across the mountains – towards the Euphrates River – to help the King of Assyria in fighting the Babylonians – who were becoming increasingly powerful and expanding westward into the region …
… King Josiah didn’t like that idea. He had major problems with that maneuver. He didn’t want the Assyrian Empire (to the north) to get any stronger. He didn’t want the King of Assyria to receive any outside help. The Assyrian Empire was fading fast. It was crumbling from within due to a series of brutal civil wars and attacks from outsiders. King Josiah really wanted the Babylonians to finish the job. King Josiah was on the side of the Babylonians – for reasons unknown. It’s not really clear in the Bible as to why Josiah favored the Babylonians over the Assyrians. Maybe he thought that they would be friendlier / more accommodating neighbors to the north – and to the east.
So King Josiah was not going to let the Egyptians help out the Assyrians against the Babylonians. Deep within the Kingdom of Assyria – King Josiah and his loyal army intercepted Pharaoh Neco and his loyal army at a place called Megiddo. Modern-day Megiddo is located in far-northern Israel – north of the West Bank – very near Nazareth …
… So at Megiddo – the two Kings talked. King Josiah urged Pharaoh Neco to stop and turn around. Neco refused, and in fact he told King Josiah that the LORD wanted him to fight the Babylonians. Neco told Josiah that if he really listened to the LORD who he believes, follows, and trusts – then he would know that the enemy was not the Assyrians or the Egyptians. The enemy was the Babylonians. Josiah didn’t believe Neco. Josiah was enraged at Neco. Josiah led an attack on Neco and his army. That didn’t end well. It ended in disaster. King Josiah was killed in the battle.
In 2ND Chronicles an account of this deadly battle is described in greater detail than in 2ND Kings, so as the Bible says:
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.” (2 Chronicles 35:21)
And the very next verse of 2ND Chronicles reveals that God had indeed spoken to Neco, and Neco was truly following the will of God.
So the one time that Josiah failed to listen to God’s voice – it cost him his life. Maybe after 39 years of life, and 31 years of reign, and 23 years of listening to the LORD – he had gotten just a little bit complacent – maybe a bit too comfortable.
You can’t get complacent or comfortable on this journey. That type of thinking won’t move you closer to God. The enemy loves that type of thinking.
All rights reserved (c) 2019 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries