Imagine if the US Constitution was lost. I don’t think that would ever be possible, but just imagine that somehow it did happen. Or, for my fellow Canadians, imagine if the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was lost. In both cases it would be a great tragedy because most everyone recognizes the value and importance of these documents. In ancient Israel, however, something similar happened about 600 years before the time of Christ. The Book of the Law was literally lost for a time. Now, if you have read 1 -2 Kings, this will not surprise you because the kings and the people tended to go their own way without any question of – what does the Lord require? By and large, God’s chosen people did their own thing and his put them on a certain path to judgment. The northern Kingdom of Israel fell in 722BC and the southern Kingdom of Judah would eventually fall in 586. But around 622 something of great significance happened – the Book of the Law was found and read before King Josiah. His response is worth reading. “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes” (2 Kings 22:11). Josiah knew that his people had fallen far short of God’s standard (see also Romans 3:23). FYI, the Book of the Law was essentially a copy of what we call Deuteronomy. It was a summary statement of the Torah and had a similar governing function akin to the Constitution or Charter.
So what ended up happening? Judgment could not be averted but the prophetess Huldah did offer these words of hope: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Regarding the words that you have heard, because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the Lord, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you, declares the Lord” (2 Kings 22:18-19). In 2 Kings 23, we go on to read that Josiah initiated several reforms that essentially banished idol worship. He heard the word of the Lord, and he responded appropriately and judgment would not come until a couple decades after Josiah’s death.
Sometimes I think we forget what an amazing gift God has given us. We have in our possession the very word of God in written form. What a wonderful thing – God’s revealed truth has been given to us! But we Christian’s have a tendency to be like Israel. In our busyness, the Scriptures get pushed aside and they don’t govern and guide our lives as they should. And ultimately, we don’t humble ourselves before God like Josiah. In all this, we are the one’s who end up losing. As David writes in Psalm 119, “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. Give me understanding that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the paths of your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared. Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good. Behold I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!” (Psalm 119:33-40).
Obviously, David delighted in the law of the Lord. He wasn’t content with a few crumbs here and there. No, David feasted on God’s Word, meditating on it day and night (Joshua 1:8). He knew that the Scriptures direct us in the way of life because they point us to the Messiah, Jesus Christ. But what about you? Do you treasure God’s Word? Is it your guide and compass? Or, is it simply and afterthought in your busy life? Truly, God has given us an amazing gift in His revealed truth – may our lives reflect that reality.