By the age of 26, King Josiah had established himself as a reformer and a spiritual leader. He had led the campaign to cleanse Judah from idol worship and to cleanse the Temple for true worship. In this chapter we read that he turned his attention to the most significant of the Jewish feasts, the Passover.
This chapter seems to imply that the priests (none of whom had been performing their priestly duties until Josiah’s reforms took hold) stood around in their newly-renovated Temple, wearing their freshly-pressed priestly garments — and didn’t have a clue what to do next. So Josiah “encouraged them in their service” (v.2), instructing them to make preparations for the upcoming Passover celebration. When the day arrived, it was the greatest Passover in many years, with every person fulfilling their assignment and God getting all the glory. God had used the young leader to give Judah one last chance to be what He intended them to be.
Sadly, the next chapter records the spiritual decline of Judah that preceded their long captivity in Babylon. The beloved Temple, which Josiah had painstakingly restored, would soon be ransacked and burned by the enemy. Ironically the Passover described in chapter 35, which was a memorial of the time God had saved His people from captivity in Egypt, was prelude to another captivity, this time in Babylon. We are left to wonder what might have been if Josiah had not inserted himself into a fight that was not his own and been fatally wounded by the archers of Egypt.