TODAY’S READING: 2 CHRONICLES 35-36
These two chapters form the end of the Hebrew Old Testament. And, it provides an interesting ending to the story, which is finally fulfilled in Jesus – king of the Jews and king of the world.
Josiah is the last good king of Israel. Chapter 35 recounts his keeping of the passover. In 2 Chronicles 35:3, Josiah said, “Put the holy ark in the house that Solomon the son of David, king of ISrael, built. You need not carry it on your shoulders.”
Jesus says that he was greater than Solomon. Solomon built a temple, but Jesus came to build the real temple of God, which is not made by hands. Rather, the temple that Jesus is building is made from living stones – all people filled with the Holy Spirit.
Josiah’s words to the priests and Levites reveal just that. His instruction to put the holy ark, the presence of God, in the house pictures Jesus’ words that the Holy Spirit, the presence of God, would be put in our hearts. Notice that Josiah says that the ark, the presence of God, will no longer be a burden to carry on the shoulders. Instead, as the ark would rest, or dwell, in the house, so the presence of God would rest, or dwell, in our hearts.
The story of Josiah and Jesus come together in the passover. Josiah was the only king of Israel to keep the passover. 2 Chronicles 35:18 says, “No passover like it had 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.”
Of course, Jesus truly kept the passover, slaughtered on the cross as the lamb of God, like no one else had ever done. Jesus truly was the king of the Jews.
But, chapter 36, the last paragraph of the Hebrew Bible, ends with an interesting twist. The Lord stirred the heart of Cyrus, king of Persia, a gentile king.
In, the very last verse, 2 Chronicles 36:23, Cyrus said, “The Lord, the God of heaven and earth, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.”
What went through the minds of the Jews with this as the last statement of their scriptures until Jesus came?
Cyrus, the king of Persia, was at one time the king of the largest kingdom in the world. He says God gave him all the kingdoms of the earth. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” And, in Revelation 11:15, when the seventh angel blew his trumpet, “There were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.'” Like Cyrus, every kingdom was given to Jesus.
Cyrus said he was charged to build God a house. We know that Jesus said if the temple was destroyed he would rebuild it in three days. Of course, Jesus was not talking about the literal, physical temple that Solomon built and was rebuilt by Cyrus and then Herod. The real temple of God started with Jesus, the cornerstone, and continues to be built with each one of the us. We are the true house of God.
Cyrus said, “Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him.” In the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, Jesus said, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Whoever believes has eternal life, has the Lord his God with him.
So, in some sense, Cyrus provides an interesting picture of Jesus as king of kings, or king of the world. What an unexpected ending.