20 After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco king of Egypt came up to make war at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to engage him.
21 But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, “What have we to do with each other, O King of Judah? I am not coming against you today but against the house with which I am at war, and God has ordered me to hurry. Stop for your own sake from interfering with God who is with me, so that He will not destroy you.”
22 However, Josiah would not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to make war with him; nor did he listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to make war on the plain of Megiddo.
23 The archers shot King Josiah, and the king said to his servants, “Take me away, for I am badly wounded.” 2 Chronicles 35:20-27
Do we fault Josiah for taking on Neco? Did he take matters into his own hands? Did he like a fool rush in? In his shoes would you do differently? The word came through messengers, not a prophet. A foreign army aligned with the Assyrians was heading for battle through your sovereign country. You had no way of knowing what would happen if those allies were victorious and turned their sights back on Judah. Was the king’s disguise foolhearty or perhaps a plan to protect him because he could not be be dissuaded from engaging in battle as leader? We know that the king was a man of incredible resolve. These circumstances were ripe for him to think that he had to do something, and to disbelieve the word of a heathen king. Was he interfering with God? Does a man interfere with God? In his past, did Josiah show a pattern of interfering with God? Hardly. Since God is sovereign, the circumstances were set in such a way as to bring Josiah’s reign to a close, and to move the previously rebellious country into exile, yet keeping the seed that would bring about the ultimate birth of the Messiah. Yes, the death was tragic and fateful, but it was God’s plan. Josiah’s death was lamented, his life remembered for another 200 years—and today–and surely, what he stood for is now an inspiration and encouragement to us.