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Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Armageddon." To view all parts, click the link below.
King Josiah fought a significant battle in the plain of Megiddo which, on a secondary level, speaks into the prophecy found in Revelation 16:16 at the battle of Armageddon. It is a sad story, because Josiah was a godly king who failed to hear the word of the Lord. His mistake proved fatal.
Josiah was the last righteous king of Judah before the Babylonian captivity. He was a prophetic type of modern church leadership and serves as a warning to the church today. His problem was that he did not believe the word of the Lord that came from Pharaoh-Neco (or Necho), who had come to power in Egypt in 621 B.C., two years after Josiah’s Great Passover (2 Chronicles 35:19). Josiah’s Great Passover took place in 623 B.C., which was the 16th Jubilee from Israel’s Jordan crossing.
In 610 B.C., thirteen years after the Great Passover, Egypt made war on Assyria, and Josiah defended the Assyrians by attacking Egypt’s army as they marched across northern Israel in the plain of Megiddo. Pharaoh-Neco was surprised by Josiah’s actions and sent word to Josiah, saying, “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” (2 Chronicles 35:21).
But Josiah would not listen. Perhaps he was unable to hear the word of the Lord through an Egyptian Pharaoh. Josiah was fatally wounded at Megiddo and was taken back to Jerusalem, where he died of his wounds. 2 Chronicles 35:22-24 says,
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.” 24 So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in the second chariot which he had and brought him to Jerusalem where he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah.
The First Lesson from Megiddo
The first lesson we must learn is that the word of the Lord can come through any source, and they do not necessarily have to be prophets or even believers. So tune your ears! Always remember that Balaam, the classic false prophet of the Old Testament, prophesied, and some of his prophecies are part of Scripture (Numbers 23, 24). Remember, too, that Caiaphas, the high priest who crucified Jesus, also prophesied (John 11:49, 50, 51).
This was one of the first lessons that I learned when I first began to hear God’s voice in 1982. My goal was to tune my ears to the place where I was able to hear God’s voice through any source, whether that source was righteous or not. I knew then that I needed to learn to hear God’s voice even when it comes through my worse enemy—or even God’s enemy. In fact, if a dog barked at the right time and place, it was possible for God to speak through the dog. Jeremiah 32:17 says,
17 Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.
The sovereignty of God over all creation includes all of God’s enemies. He can speak through unbelievers as easily as through believers. He can call King Cyrus of Persia a messiah, even if Cyrus did not know God at all (Isaiah 45:1, 4). God does indeed care whether men believe His word or not, but their unbelief is not an impediment to His overall plan. God has authorized them to oppose His will (thelema), but God has never relinquished His sovereignty over His creation. Even their opposition will merely fulfill the plan (boulema) of God.
The broader lesson in prophecy is that church leaders will fall in this battle, because they failed to hear and understand the word of God coming through the voice and actions of their perceived enemy. Christians also discredit the prophecy coming through their doctrinal opponents. But I have learned to hear God’s voice even from those whose doctrines I consider to be wretched in many ways. Conversely, those who think my doctrines are wretched need to learn this lesson as well. We are all still in various stages of knowing the will of God.
We should remember the lesson of Saul, the Pentecostal King, who is a type of the Church. He prophesied and was “changed into another man” (1 Samuel 10:6). This was not a permanent change, of course, for in his 18th year, Samuel told Saul, “Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has also rejected you from being king” (1 Samuel 15:23).
Nonetheless, the proverb arose in Israel, saying, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” (1 Samuel 10:12). It came to be used when a man saw an apparent contradiction—such as when an oppressive king would prophesy. How could God use an unrighteous man to speak His word? It made no sense to the average person who did not understand the sovereignty of God.
Saul, the Pentecostal king, was legitimately anointed to rule, but his rejection of the word limited his rule to 40 years. Then he was replaced by David, who was crowned on the 59th Jubilee from Adam and was therefore a prophetic type of overcomer. This prophesies of the end of the Pentecostal Age and the beginning of the Tabernacles Age.
The story of Saul is as tragic and sad as that of Josiah. Both stories prophesy of current events and of things that must shortly come to pass.
Josiah’s Great Passover
Judah had been largely under the hegemony (power, influence) of Assyria since the days of King Manasseh, son of Hezekiah, and his son Amon. Josiah was Amon’s son and the grandson of Manasseh and the great-grandson of Hezekiah.
Josiah reigned 31 years in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 34:1). In his 18th year this godly king ordered the priests to clean out the temple that had been forsaken for many decades. One of the clean-up crew found the lost book of the law (probably Deuteronomy) in the debris of the temple and gave it to Hilkiah, the high priest (2 Chronicles 34:14, 15).
When Josiah read it (2 Chronicles 34:19, 21), he was alarmed—most likely when he read about the laws of tribulation and judgment in Deuteronomy 28. He then understood why the house of Israel had been judged by Assyria a century earlier, and he saw the danger to Judah as well. It is unclear if he was aware of Isaiah’s prophecy to Hezekiah in Isaiah 39:6, which said that Judah would eventually be taken to Babylon.
At any rate, the discovery of Deuteronomy sparked a reformation in the worship of God, and he read the law in public to everyone, commanding them “to perform the words of the covenant written in this book” (2 Chronicles 34:31). The result was that God delayed Judah’s tribulation/captivity until after Josiah’s death (2 Chronicles 34:27, 28).
The king then kept the Passover—apparently for the first time in many years (2 Chronicles 35:18, 19). It was the year 623 B.C., which was Judah’s 16th Jubilee since the Jordan crossing under Joshua. This Jubilee Passover was a joyous occasion, but it could not stop the divine judgment which had already been decreed a century earlier (Isaiah 39:6).
Thirteen years later (610 B.C.), Josiah was killed at Megiddo, having ruled Judah for 31 years (2 Chronicles 34:1). The final countdown toward the Babylonian captivity then continued, and Jerusalem capitulated to Nebuchadnezzar six years later in 604 B.C.
As an aside, Ezekiel dates his prophecies according to the year of the 17th Jubilee cycle since 623 B.C., when Josiah had held his Great Passover. Hence, Ezekiel 1:1 says, “Now it came about in the thirtieth year.” This was 594-593 B.C., and it was “the fifth year of Jehoiachin’s exile” (Ezekiel 1:2). King Jehoiachin was sent into a Babylonian dungeon in the year 599-598 B.C., which was also the 25th year of the 17th Jubilee cycle since the Jordan crossing.
Pharaoh-Necho’s War Campaign
Pharaoh-Necho had transported his troops by ship to the northern part of Israel to begin the march toward “Carchemish on the Euphrates” (2 Chronicles 35:20). Carchemish (“the fortress of Chemosh,”) was a strategic Assyrian stronghold, and Pharaoh decided to take this fortress in order to prevent the Assyrians from using it as a staging point to conquer Judah and Egypt.
The Assyrian power was already waning, and others knew this as well. The province of Babylon, governed by Assyria’s vassal King Nabopolassar (626-605 B.C.), had already revolted in 612 B.C. So Pharaoh-Necho sought to take advantage of the situation by taking the key western stronghold of “Carchemish on the Euphrates.”
Palestine had always been a buffer zone and a frontier barrier between Assyria and Egypt for many years. Pharaoh did not want to make war on Judah, for that would have slowed his advance toward Carchemish. So instead of marching through Judah, he sent his troops by sea to the north of Judah and began to march east through the plain of Megiddo. Megiddo had been part of the territory of Israel prior to the Assyrian conquest and deportation of Israel. It was not part of Judah, so Pharaoh did not think that King Josiah would attack him.
At this time Judah was technically an Assyrian ally, being dominated by the larger empire even though Jerusalem had escaped captivity a century earlier. It appears that Josiah, as a faithful vassal king thought that he should support his Assyrian overlord. So when the Egyptian troops marched across the northern lands that had once been inhabited by Naphtali and Zebulun, “Josiah went out to engage him” (2 Chronicles 35:20). This apparently took Pharaoh by surprise, as he would have thought that the king of Judah would be happy that Egypt would fight Assyria.
This was Josiah’s fatal mistake, for he died as a result.
The Second Lesson from Megiddo
Josiah’s inability to hear the word of the Lord through Pharaoh caused him to support the king of Assyria, the oppressor of his day. Church leaders today—without realizing it—have also supported the oppressor of our own time, Mystery Babylon. This really goes back to the early 1900’s, when God poured out His Spirit in the new Pentecostal movement. God’s underlying purpose (as always) was to cause the church to repent for allowing their government to break their treaties with the Indian tribes during the previous century.
But the underlying problem of Pentecost could not be resolved through the Pentecostal anointing. It was the problem of denominationalism, where the people at the first sent Moses up the Mount to hear God’s voice and to tell them what God had said (Exodus 20:19). They wanted an indirect relationship with God. This same problem was manifested again in the story of King Saul, because, again, the people wanted a man to rule them instead of God Himself (1 Samuel 8:7).
So the Pentecostal movements of the early 1900’s again formed new denominations without understanding and overcoming this root problem of Pentecost. To be ruled by a man was to set up a system of bondage to men. Men then claimed that to do the will of God they must submit to the rule of men. As long as those rulers did the will of God, this was not a problem.
However, most followed the example of Saul, and this reached somewhat of a climax in the early 1970’s in the so-called “Shepherding Movement.” Yet the problem itself was universal. It comes to the surface anytime we tell someone that we are believers, for they immediately want to know what church or denomination we belong to. When we say we follow Jesus, they ask, “and who?” If we are not part of a “legitimate” denomination, they often consider us to be in rebellion against God Himself. That is the mindset of Saul.
This is the root problem of Pentecost that can be resolved only through the greater anointing of the feast of Tabernacles, manifested through the house of David, the overcomer. That is where we stand today. That is why, when “Saul” died in 1993, we saw the rise of the house of David.
In Josiah’s day, Judah was moving toward a Babylonian captivity. We today are coming out of the captivity to Mystery Babylon. We live in a different time. In Josiah’s day there was no real solution; in our day God has brought us the solution by the power of His own will.
This is another reason why we can have confidence that we will win this battle of Armageddon. Many of the Church leaders today, though godly overall, will fail to hear the word of the Lord and will continue to support the oppressors unknowingly. Yet I have no doubt that many will hear the word as the mystery of iniquity is exposed by the light of actual events. We have fought and won too many spiritual battles in the past for this not to happen.
The agreement between David and Joseph is unstoppable; the work of Elisha will succeed, for it is built upon that foundation.
Note: This blog post is part of a series titled "Armageddon." To view all parts, click the link below.