I love a good mystery, and though I read a lot, I have watched more mystery-themed programs than I’ve read. The best element I’ve found in a mystery program, be it a movie or a television show, is that clues are provided to the viewer to solve the mystery before the protagonist. Without such indications, it’s just a matter of guessing “Who done it?” without the joy of solving the mystery. While some programs are still enjoyable to watch that don’t allow the viewer the chance to solve the mystery, the best are those that do.

Reading the Bible can be like solving a mystery sometimes. We are presented with the facts, but we’re not always told the direct story. However, when we take what we’ve been told, we can put things together to get a better view of what we’ve read. For example, we read about King Josiah in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. Like many kings we read about, we’re told how long he reigned and whether or not he did evil in the eyes of the Lord. In Josiah’s case, we are also told about some of the changes he made in Judah, and we attribute those changes to his having read the Book of the Law. However, when we get to the book of Jeremiah, we are given further insight into Josiah’s life.

The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah.

Jeremiah 1:2 (NIV)

On the surface, this verse is telling us something simple. The Lord started speaking to Jeremiah after Josiah had been king for 13 years. The next verse gives us more insight into the ministry of Jeremiah.

And through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.

Jeremiah 1:3 (NIV)

We are told in 2 Kings 22:1 that Josiah reigned for 31 years. Therefore, Jeremiah was a prophet for most of Josiah’s reign (18 years). In this verse from Jeremiah, we know that Jeremiah was the last prophet before the Babylonian exile, and Josiah was the last “good” king before the exile.

In the book of Zephaniah, we are given this intelligence.

The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah.

Zephaniah 1:1 (NIV)

Between Zephaniah and Jeremiah, we know that during Josiah’s reign, there were at least two prophets who could have influenced Josiah. When we read Zephaniah and Jeremiah, we can envision the state of Judah through what we read in those books and through what we read in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles.

Another benefit to reading these books with the knowledge of how they interconnect is the humanity we find therein. It’s easy to read the historical accounts in the Bible and see them from a distance. After all, these events happened thousands of years ago. For the most part, we aren’t privy to individual thoughts and character development that we might see in a modern piece of work. Yet, reading something like this verse from 2 Chronicles brings further illumination to the portrait of humanity the Bible is painting.

Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments.

2 Chronicles 35:25 (NIV)

I can see Josiah and Jeremiah not only as compatriots but as friends sharing God’s vision for a better Israel. Later on, when we get to Lamentations, we can further identify with Jeremiah’s loss over watching his people go into captivity.

Thank you for stopping by! I’ve only touched on a few elements that bring the Bible together as a living and breathing work of art that tell the story of our spiritual ancestors today. However, I hope you are encouraged to read this book with newfound eyes of appreciation.