THE IMPACT OF THE WORD
Lord, give us godly people in places of authority.
Read 2 KINGS 22
The Book of the Law Found
22 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
3 In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the Lord. He said: 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. 5 Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the Lord— 6 the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. 7 But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are honest in their dealings.”
8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.
11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. 12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”
14 Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Akbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter.
15 She said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made,[a] my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ 18 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse[b] and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the Lord. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’”
So they took her answer back to the king.
a 2 Kings 22:17 Or by everything they have done
b 2 Kings 22:19 That is, their names would be used in cursing (see Jer. 29:22); or, others would see that they are cursed.
New International Version (NIV)
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Praise God for his powerful Word, that it does not return to him empty but achieves his purpose (Isa. 55:11).
When my husband and I go on holiday and visit other churches in New Zealand, I am always saddened by the fact that many do not read out the Word of God in public. The younger students I teach often do not engage in the daily discipline of devotions. Likewise, many Christians have never read through the whole Bible and live on a diet of a few Gospel stories and a little of Paul. Worse still, they hear much of the Old Testament second-hand in sermons and are therefore ignorant of the overall revelation we know as the Bible.
Similarly, Josiah seems to have been lacking in knowledge of God’s Word, perhaps because he had no opportunity to learn it. His heart was in the right place, however, and his initiative to honor God and repair his temple (3–7) leads to the discovery of the Book of the Law (8). This may have been some form of Deuteronomy, which itself is repeatedly called “this Book of the Law” (Deut. 29:21; 30:10; 31:26) and details the consequences attaching to violating the covenant. Josiah’s story teaches us that those who seek God will find him. A woman I knew lived in Iran and would secretly watch Christian evangelists on TV—first out of boredom, but later because she came to faith. She desperately longed to have a Bible of her own and started praying for it. Miraculously, one was given to her, enabling her to grow in faith and understanding.
Josiah sets an example as he responds to God’s Word with deep remorse and repentance (11,19). God honors the king’s sincerity, so that the final catastrophe of Judah is delayed until after his time (20). Even King Josiah’s commitment to reform cannot turn the punitive hand of God.
Pray for those who risk their lives to bring the Bible into restrictive countries. Pray that God’s Word may transform hearts. May we hear it afresh and respond with faith.
Lord, having been born again by the power of Your Word, we remain in awe of its limitless capability to change the human heart.