I have told this story before but need to tell it again briefly. We started going to church when our eldest son was getting ready to go to school. I had a problem with the sermons so I purchased a modern English Bible and read from Genesis and by the time I reached Colossians I was soundly saved. Then I realized that the sermons were a mixture of politics and social entertainment. There was no gospel. The more I read the Word of God the more I loved the Word and am so grateful to God for convincing me through the Bible that the Gospel message is real, true and urgent. It led to me repenting and receiving Jesus as Lord. One of my colleagues, before conversion was a high powered fashion designer in South Africa. One night in a drunken stupor, intent on committing suicide in his hotel room, opened the bedside draw, found a Gideon’s Bible, read a passage from Isaiah and was saved. He was so transformed through the Word of God that he entered the Ministry after a few years at Bible School, planted a successful church and became a well-known evangelist in our country. There are many stories of how the Bible changed people … and there will be many more in the future. Yesterday we saw how the Book of the Law was found in the temple by those renovating it. They gave it to the High Priest who passed it onto the Secretary who in turn told the king about it and read it to the king.
2Ki 22:10 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.
1) The importance of having the Word of God read, explained or taught.
2Ki 22:11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.
How long the reading took I cannot say, but the effects are phenomenal. The first thing is that the king “heard” the Word of God. Many sit in Sunday School, Youth Groups, Bible Studies and Church listening to the “Word”, but don’t hear! It might be related to emotional, relational, health, financial, career and family challenges, but more often than not, the not “hearing” is related to personal spiritual darkness. Such people could be Christian or non-Christian. If you are a believer and listen without hearing, you need to repent, confess sin and return to Jesus as Lord. If you are not a believer, you also need to repent, believe and be saved. Until God’s light dwells richly in your heart you won’t hear the Word of God in your heart!
2) The importance of following through once hearing the Word of God. King Josiah heard the Word in his heart. He understood exactly that this was nothing other than God’s Divine Words. “He tore his robes.” Here’s the point … he was convicted of personal sin and that of his people. The tearing of cloths was a public and physical demonstration of anguish and fear in the presence of God’s Holy Word … but the outer was generated because the heart was stabbed by the Holy Word. You see, this is what led to my salvation and that of my colleague. God’s Word is powerful in the heart of a willing recipient. Its works! It must lead to conviction of sin and sorrow that ushers in repentance.
3) The importance of seeking godly counsel when you don’t understand the Word of God fully. The king was not selfish. He needed help understanding what the Word of God meant for him, his people and all Judah. He was a king who felt for his people and desired their salvation.
2Ki 22:12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor 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 our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”
I would suggest that God had so worked in Josiah’s heart and mind that he grasped how angry God was with the people because their forefathers … especially the previous two kings disobedience to God’s Word through neglect to the point that the Word was “lost” in the temple. Today the Word can be lost because the pastor is not evangelical! This happens often in churches where the clergy are liberal, politicized and dish out a social gospel. Although said already, congregations need to be extra cautious in their selection of a pastor and of the church council. Wrong choices could easily lead to losing the Word of God in the Church. When this happens the congregation will never understand the magnitude of God’s displeasure with sin and His passion for a holy people. This will result in never understanding the purpose of Messiah’s substitutional penal sacrifice and negligence where is comes to separating the world’s morality from that of the Scriptures. What the young king had said remains true for us today … “Great is the LORD’S anger that burns against us … have not obeyed the words of this book … have not acted in accordance with all that is written”. To know what God is saying you need men who have been trained and have the tools to open the Word and explain it to one’s understanding. Before we proceed with the text, let me ask you whether you have seen what is happening here? God wants a revival in religion and the people of Judah not forgetting the temple and priesthood. After Hezekiah’s death, the next two kings returned Judah and the temple to paganism of the most horrendous sort. God wanted His people back and the way He started the process of another spiritual revival was to place Josiah on the throne. Likely, through his mother, he grew up fearing God. As a young king God inspires him to clean up the temple to return true worship. In the process the Word of God is found and read to the king who is convicted of personal and corporate sin in the face of the holiness of God. He desperately needs to do something to change the spiritual decline to return to God. He needs help. What is the condition of your church like?
O God, mercifully restore You church by convicting us of Your glorious holiness in the light of our sinful rebellion. Heal us Lord Jesus. Amen.