When you find a book ...
Recently I had to look through all of my books and decide if there were any I could give away to save some space. This took a while for me for two reasons; number one, I have a lot of books; number two, whenever I find a book I haven’t seen in a while I usually read it. As I was packing up the books into boxes one then another caught my eye again and again until I was basically sitting in a pile of books … reading.
It took a long time, but eventually, piece by piece, the books ended up in the boxes.
There’s a story I love in the 22nd chapter of 2nd Kings. Josiah is the king at the time, but Israel has lost her way and are not in a good situation. The people of God have wandered away and started to serve other gods, or no gods at all. Unsurprisingly, things have not gone well for them. The nation has been invaded and subjugated constantly; the monarchy has been in flux as kings have died with uncomfortable regularity; famine has gripped the land and sin is rife.
As I said, not a good situation.
But, Josiah has decided that the temple requires some renovation and has given Hilkiah, the high priest, responsibility to pay the workers there. While Hilkiah is at the temple his eye falls on a book, a book that nobody has seen in a very long time; the Book of the Law. Hilkiah, remember he is the high priest, has found the Book of the Law, the book that he is supposed to know inside and out, the book that he should be the authority on in order to benefit the people of Israel… and he doesn’t even read it. In the eight verse of 2nd Kings 22 Hilkiah finds the Book of the Law and simply passes it on to Shaphan the scribe.
To Shaphan’s credit he actually reads the Book and even presents it to king Josiah. Now remember, Shaphan is a scribe, another man that God intended to know and pass His will onto His people. Shaphan should love this book, should treasure this book, should be filled with the knowledge of this book. Yet, in verse 10 of the chapter Shaphan presents the Law to the king with these words;
‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book,’
As advertisements go Shaphan’s is not the most exciting … he is presenting the Book of the Law, the very words of God handed down to the patriarchs and Moses; the history of their nation, the miracles and messages of God and Shaphan says ‘… a book’. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. And then Shaphan reads this book to his king.
So far it seems like nobody has quite known what they have found. After generations the high priest finds God’s Word and simply gives it away, without reading it. Next the king’s scribe, a man charged with great responsibility concerning God’s Word, receives the book without realising what it is and reads it, before passing it on again.
I fear that sometimes I get into this same situation with God’s Word. I have His Word with me, I find it on my shelf, beside my bed, on my coffee table, in my bag and yet, sometimes, I forget just how valuable His Word really is and, sometimes, I even forget to read it … to just sit and see what God has for me in His Word.
And then His Word has become just another book, not exactly a ringing endorsement myself sometimes.
But, we have not reached the end of the story; Josiah hears the Word. When Josiah hears the Word of God everything changes within him. The king is convicted, he tears his clothes, sends his advisors to inquire of God what should be done and he goes to work. Immediately. Finally, someone had realised what they had found, the will of almighty God. And Josiah wasted no time in fulfilling God’s will. He repented and began to walk with God.
But, that is still not the end of the story. In chapter 23 of 2nd Kings Josiah renews the covenant and reads the Law to all of the people and verse four tells us;
‘…all the people took a stand for the covenant.’
Because of one man taking the Word of God seriously a nation was changed. Because one man treated the Word of God as precious others believed.
Now, I know that you are not the king of anywhere (unless you are, in which case; thank you for reading your majesty) but, this account of Josiah’s life shows us what we can do when we take God’s Word seriously; we inspire others to do so as well. When we read our Bible and do not simply sit it on a shelf we teach our children, friends, workmates, neighbours etc. that we take God’s Word seriously, and perhaps they will think that they should take His Word seriously too. When we focus on taking God’s will into our hearts and carrying His will out in our day to day lives we demonstrate to others that it is possible to take a stand for God, and maybe they would like to as well.
When we live for God, we can show others that they can live for Him too … and if we take His Word and His commandments seriously and use them to bless others in our lives, whoever they may be, perhaps they will want to live for Him too.
So the next time you find your Bible, read your Bible and form a habit. See what God has for you to see, remind yourself of why it is precious … and maybe someone else will find His Word precious too.