Learning from the Bible’s ‘mistakes’ (pt 1)

And the king commanded all the people, “Keep the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.”  For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah.  But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah this Passover was kept to the LORD in Jerusalem. {2 Kings 23:21-23; ESV}

I was reading through the account of Josiah’s reforms recorded in 2Kings when I came across this passage. I was incredulous–no Passover since the days of the judges?! A quick glance tells me the span in question is somewhere in the neighborhood of 750 years (thank you ESV Study Bible). That means that Israel–“Judah” after Solomon–would have been Passoverless (prior to and) through the reigns of David(!) & Solomon, Asa & Jehoshaphat, Joash & Hezekiah. Granted, the aforementioned weren’t perfect but neither were they godless reprobates. So I decided  to do a little digging.

I started by skimming the details of Hezekiah’s reign & reformation in 2Kings 18-20 and 2Chronicles 29-32. It wasn’t long before I came across this statement:

 Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the LORD at Jerusalem to keep the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel. {2Chronicles 30:1; ESV}

What’s a serious Christian to do when Chronicles disagrees with Kings? I could think of three options: (1) charge the Bible with error and chuck the whole thing (2) concede historical inaccuracies in the Bible but cling to the (presumably) infallible spiritual truths (3) wrestle a harmonization out of the two accounts, confident that Scripture is the source and solution of its own conflict(s).

Needless to say I chose the latter approach & I wasn’t disappointed. As is so often the case, the joy in wrestling through the Bible’s “mistake(s)” isn’t just a better knowledge of Scripture but a better knowledge of God. See for yourself.

To be continued…

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Author: Jonathan P. Merritt

Happily married father of six. Associate pastor for education at Edgewood Baptist Church (Columbus, GA). Good-natured contrarian and theological Luddite. A student of one book.

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