Reading: 2 Chronicles 35:20-27
Reflection: We need to tread carefully as we read today’s story. We need to remember that God’s nature is progressively revealed through the Scriptures. So, when we read of things like God commanding kings to hurry into war, we must note that this speaks about how the writers of this story understood God, and not about how God actually is.
With the greater revelation we have in Jesus, we now know that God does not take sides in war. But, even with this in mind, this passage reflects a view of God that would have been startling in its time. Josiah, who was one of the good kings of Judah, heard that the Egyptian king, Neco, was seeking to travel through Judah on the way to fight the Assyrians. Neco claimed that God had spoken to him, and that Josiah must not oppose him. Whether Josiah had aligned himself with the Assyrians is not clear.
What is clear is that Josiah, as would have been expected from a faithful Israelite, did not believe Neco’s claim of divine guidance. But, the writer of this story tells us that Neco had indeed heard from God. For the first readers of this story, who lived after the return from exile, the idea that God could speak to Gentiles would likely have been shocking, perhaps even offensive. Like the people in the synagogue in Nazareth, they would have been deeply challenged by the inclusive implications of this story.
As Christians we can be tempted to adopt this same exclusive view of God – that God is “ours” and only speaks to us. Do you find seeds of this in your faith? How does this story challenge that idea for you?
Practice for Today: One thing Jesus made clear is that God loves “the world” including all its peoples. Throughout the New Testament, whenever people forgot this and became exclusive in their faith, they were called to confess, repent, and turn to a more inclusive love.
Prayer for Today: Forgive me, O God, when my love is exclusive, and teach me love inclusively, as you do.