Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
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!