The Book That Was Lost In The House Of The Lord

The Book That Was Lost In The House Of The Lord

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

The last righteous king to ever sit on the throne of the southern kingdom was Josiah, often called the “boy king”–as he was only eight years old when he acceded to the throne. We have the general evaluation of his reign in 2 Kings 22:2 as one who “did right in the sight of the Lord and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left.” What a divine endorsement! The verses that follow show us a few reasons how he demonstrated that righteousness.

The first act of his office noteworthy enough to be preserved by inspiration was his commissioning of repairs on the temple. He sent Shaphan the scribe to Hilkiah the High Priest to pay carpenters, builders, and masons from the temple treasury to repair the temple (3-7). While Shaphan and Hilkiah finalized these plans, the High Priest makes a remarkable statement: “I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord” (8). It is stated so matter-of-factly that we may lose the impact of this report. How could God’s Word be lost in God’s house? Was it not read in worship? Was it not consulted for direction? Was it not the heart and center of all that went on inside those walls? Incredibly, it had been buried, stored, or otherwise tucked away. Looking back to Manasseh and Amon’s reigns, they had had no need for the Book. They had abandoned God.

Shaphan takes the Book from Hilkiah, reads it, and then brings it to Josiah. He reads it to the king, who, when he hears “the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes” (11). This godly king recognizes what a sin has been committed against God through this gross negligence! 

He sends a contingent to inquire of God about His written will, knowing God’s wrath was kindled against his people for not listening to and obeying the words of the book (13). The message they will hear from Huldah the prophetess is grim and hopeless, indicating that Judah would reap what they sowed (14-17). But, the punishment would not come in Josiah’s lifetime because of his tenderhearted, humble, penitent, and tearful response to the Word (18-20). His faith in God’s Word (and his obedient response to it that we read about in the next chapter) extended God’s grace and mercy to Josiah and the children of Judah. Sadly, the people did not share Josiah’s reverence for The Book (cf. Jer. 25:1ff). 

Surely, the Book could not get lost in the house of the Lord today! In how many sermons and Bible classes can God not “get a word in edgewise”? Human wisdom, insight, and guidance, without biblical support, is a quick way to “lose” God’s Word in His house. It also happens when church leaders do not constantly, habitually drive themselves to ask, in the face of decisions, “What does it say in the Book?” Homes where spouses and parents are not building on the bedrock foundation of the Book, but rather the sand of society, are unprepared for the storms of life (cf. Mat. 7:24-27). The constant plea of a faithful people is, “Is there a word from the LORD?” (Jer. 37:17).  There is an endless fountain of spiritual blessings held in reserve for the people who find and follow The Book! What a tragedy that it could ever get lost, especially in the house of the Lord! 

Can These Dry Bones Live Again?

Can These Dry Bones Live Again?

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail 

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

Six hundred years before Christ would make His providential appearance, a righteous man finds himself in captivity. While exiled, Ezekiel was able to witness the spirit of God in a very intimate way (Ezekiel 1). Even so, he was still living under the thumb of the Babylonians like every other Israelite with him. While under these unideal circumstances though, he is privileged to see awe inspiring visions from God. Have you ever paid attention to the eerie sensations described throughout this book? In Ezekiel 1:4, the prophet feels a great and stormy wind on the bank of the river Chebar. The wind brings with it a massive cloud with fire flashing around it and a substance like glowing metal in the center of it. The wings of the creatures he saw (verse 24) made sounds like that of roaring waters. The voice of the Almighty was like the sound of a great army camp. What sights he was able to see! This great connection to God didn’t take away his pain or sorrow, though.

Chapter 19 is one long lament as Ezekiel cries over his hard-hearted Israelite brothers. Why won’t they listen to him? Even after Ezekiel performs some radical visual illustrations like eating his bread over dung and laying on his side for an entire year, they won’t respond to the “invitation.” How frustrating is that, preachers? God never abandons His faithful servant but His confused prophet is still left to wonder what God is going to do about the mess which makes up his reality. A familiar feeling for many faithful Christians today.  

Never underestimate the hand of the Almighty. This truthful statement can be pulled from Ezekiel 37, when the prophet is taken up and then placed in the middle of a dark valley. Ezekiel is surrounded on all sides by heaps of dry human bones and he’s probably wondering why in the world God has taken him to such a place. The text answers the question by asking a question. God speaks to Ezekiel and says, “Can these dry bones live again?” What an odd thing to ask. However, Ezekiel responds, “Only you know, oh Lord.”

It’s always when we’re deep in the valleys of life that we’re forced to answer the difficult questions about God’s abilities. When we’re surrounded by darkness, the question we have to ask is, “Does God have the power to see me through this?” If you remember, Ezekiel has become frustrated with the fact that Israel just won’t listen to him or Him. He’s lost hope in their ability to change— they’re just too far gone. However, God demonstrates to His prophet in a dramatic way that NOTHING is impossible for Him. 

He doesn’t bring the bones to life in the blink of an eye, but we know He could have. Instead, He allows Ezekiel to hear those bones rattle and to hear the sounds of fibers and flesh sticking together. He wanted to leave an impression on Ezekiel to demonstrate the might of the Almighty. Ezekiel had no idea how those bones came to life, but he knew one thing for certain. God did it. You may not understand why God has allowed you to enter your valley, but you can be certain that He has the power to see you through. You are standing on your two feet because God has given you the strength to do so. God has promised His faithful servants a heavenly light at the end of our tunnels and whatever God says— He will always accomplish (Ezekiel 37:14). 

Jahaziel’s Comforting Message

Jahaziel’s Comforting Message

Neal Pollard

Jahaziel would have been a man of interesting and diverse talents. As a Levite, he would have served with the priests in the temple. As one of the sons of Asaph, he would have either been a literal descendant “or more probably [one of] a class of poets and singers who recognized him as [his] master” (Easton, M. G. Easton’s Bible dictionary 1893 : n. pag. Print.). But on the occasion recorded in 2 Chronicles 20, Jahaziel would have been a “seer” or prophet. The Spirit of the Lord comes upon him during the reign of Jehoshaphat, a righteous king of Judah (2 Chron. 20:14). Judah has been invaded by the Moabites and the Ammonites (20:1). Jehoshaphat’s response is righteous, seeking the Lord, proclaiming a fast, and leading a prayer service (20:3-13). Entire families, men, infants, women, and children were all assembled, “standing before the Lord” (13). Then, it happens. Jahaziel is the man God chooses and uses to respond to the touching prayer of the king.  What can we learn from Jahaziel’s message?

  • It was predicated upon the Lord’s power to deliver (15). He says, “The battle is not yours but God’s.” They were helpless alone and the message was that God was able to deliver them. The power belongs to the Lord. How we need that reminder today! In our personal battles with sin and trials, we so often are guilty of going it alone. Isn’t it thrilling to know that we have help in our fiercest battles (cf. 1 Cor. 10:13)?
  • It was precise in its instructions (16). Jahazael told them a specific time (“tomorrow”), a specific action (“go down against them”) and a specific place (“at the end of the valley in front of the wilderness of Jeruel”).  God wanted His people to know exactly what to expect and exactly what He expected them to do.  What comfort it is to know that God has laid out His instructions precisely and plainly. He’s not trying to trick us. He has told us what we need to do and what is ultimately coming when all is said and done (cf. Heb. 9:27).
  • It pointed to the salvation of the Lord (17).  The height of comfort might be this phrase: “station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf.”  From the proper position, we can see the salvation of the Lord on our behalf. The hard-hearted, indifferent, bitter, and negative person is spiritually blind to it, but we should see it! When I am stationed at the pinnacle of prayer, the citadel of Scripture, the lookout of the Lord’s Supper, the gate of gratitude, or the fortress of forgiveness, I see the salvation of the Lord. Like gazing intently at a masterpiece, the longer I look the greater the nuances, details, and expertise emerge from the canvas of His work in my life. We can turn nowhere besides Calvary to see the clearest demonstration of the Lord’s salvation on our behalf!
  • It promised divine assistance (17). Jahaziel’s conclusion is profound. He ends, “the LORD is with you.” Sure enough, “The Lord set ambushes” (22), “the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies” (27), and “the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel” (29). The result was peace and rest (30). Are you confident of that? Whatever you are going through now and whatever lies ahead, do you believe that He is with you (cf. Mat. 28:20; Heb. 13:5-6)? He has never failed and by His perfect character He never will!
  • It provoked praise and thanksgiving (18-19). From the top down, reverent worship and loud praise followed the mighty message of Jahaziel. This was faith in action! They believed the Word and proceeded as if it had already happened. Shouldn’t we be so confident in God’s promises that we respond in the same way? What struggle will you face that’s bigger than the promise of God?

Just like that, Jahaziel fades back into the woodwork of obscurity! His minute of sacred fame came and went, but how masterfully the Master used Him. However anonymous or average you may believe yourself to be, God has a greater message for you to share than He did for Jahaziel! As you faithfully share it, you can help produce an even greater outcome in the life of somebody you know. Perhaps He will use you to save someone from spiritual rather than physical death!  Be on the lookout for that opportunity today and share God’s comforting message.

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The wilderness of Jeruel

An Oasis In The Desert

An Oasis In The Desert

Neal Pollard

I’ve been to Palm Springs, west Texas and east Africa, and these places are the closest I’ve been to the desert (though I have looked out from an airplane over the Sahara Desert and seen the endless miles of brown sand). These provide me with the best visual picture of the desolation and cruelty one would have to endure in its midst.

Psalm 63 is a psalm of David, and the uninspired inscription over it indicates he wrote it while in “the wilderness of Judah.” David ran there more than once, pursued by Saul. Near the time of Christ, the Essenes and revolters against Rome hid there, and after the corruption of the New Testament church monasteries were established there (Negev 206). Negev describes, from archaeological discovery, this wilderness.  “The eastern slopes of the Judean Hills, which fall steeply toward the Dead Sea, are almost devoid of vegetation. The meager rainfall and porous rock of which the hills are composed produce a rugged landscape, and the descent of some 3000 feet over a distance of less than 15 miles form deep gorges with precipitous waterfalls, dry for all but a few days in the year. The steep banks of the gorges contain numerous caves that are difficult to reach and therefore ideal hiding places. Springs are few and small and the only oasis in the whole region is at En-Gedi, where a copious spring fosters lush vegetation” (ibid.).

With that setting in your mind, imagine David, moved by the Holy Spirit, writing the 63rd Psalm. The odds were against his writing on a rainy day, though we do not know. In the dry and thirsty land of persecution, opposition, fear and doubt, David had God. Because he did, David’s love and gratitude overflowed in a fountain of praise and worship to his God.

  • He expresses relationship–“You are my God” (1)
  • He expects relief–“My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You…My soul shall be satisfied” (1,5)
  • He experiences refreshment–“Your lovingkindness is better than life” (3)
  • He excitedly rejoices–“My mouth shall praise you with joyful lips…I will rejoice” (5,7).
  • He exerts responsively–“I will bless You, lift up my hands, praise You, remember You, meditate on You, My soul follows close behind you” (3-8).

God was David’s ever-present oasis, no matter how dreary the setting of life around him was (9-10). He was confident in God’s love and care and strengthened by that to fight life’s battles.

God’s oasis is still flowing in our dry and thirsty land. His power and glory continue the same today. Look for Him where He is found, among God’s people as well as in the Book that bears His authorship and the sanctuary of prayer where He always awaits you. He is more than able to quench your spiritual thirst and shelter you in His care.

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