2 Kings 22 & Hebrews 4

2 Kings 22

    Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jedidah the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.

    In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, son of Meshullam, the secretary, to the house of the LORD, saying, “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the money that has been brought into the house of the LORD, which the keepers of the threshold have collected from the people. And let it be given into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD, and let them give it to the workmen who are at the house of the LORD, repairing the house (that is, to the carpenters, and to the builders, and to the masons), and let them use it for buying timber and quarried stone to repair the house. But no accounting shall be asked from them for the money that is delivered into their hand, for they deal honestly.”

    And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD.” Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.

    When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king's servant, saying, “Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

    So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter), and they talked with her. And she said to them, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: ‘Tell the man who sent you to me, Thus says the LORD, Behold, I will bring disaster upon this place and upon its inhabitants, all the words of the book that the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and have made offerings to other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the work of their hands, therefore my wrath will be kindled against this place, and it will not be quenched. But to the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, thus shall you say to him, 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. Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.’” And they brought back word to the king.

(2 Kings 22 ESV)

Hebrews 4

    Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

    “As I swore in my wrath,
    ‘They shall not enter my rest,’”
    
        although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said,

    “They shall not enter my rest.”
    
        Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

    “Today, if you hear his voice,
    do not harden your hearts.”
    
        For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

    Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

    Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

(Hebrews 4 ESV)

Something to Consider

2 Kings 22: In the eighteenth year of King Josiah’s reign in Judah, he initiates a project to renovate and repair the temple of the Lord. In the midst of this project, we are given a glimpse into the reality of how far the nation had fallen as we read that the high priest "found the Book of the Law" during renovations to the temple. What does it say about a nation when the high priest stumbles upon the very Book that he is supposed to be obeying and teaching? 

Were there no other copies of God's Law on hand? And if this was the only copy, how had it been treated so carelessly as to have been misplaced? It is fairly clear from the narrative that the content and instruction in God's Law were new to the high priest and King Josiah (v. 22:11). Again, this is a strong testament to how far from God's Word God’s people had fallen. 

Now, King Josiah was the great-grandson of King Hezekiah who had led the nation in a great reformation just a few generations before. Therefore, many might find it difficult to understand how a nation could fall into such a depth of biblical ignorance in such a short amount of time. How could a nation go from the fruits of reformation to the utter forgetfulness of God’s Word in just a few generations? However, the history of our own nation testifies to how quickly a people can become ignorant of the truth of God’s Word. We live in an era of unprecedented biblical illiteracy and ignorance among the church in this nation. The truth of the matter is that God’s people have proven over and over again that they are never more than a generation or two away from careless abandonment of God’s Word and casual apathy towards Christian doctrine. 

As horrible as it may seem to hear how the nation of Judah had carelessly neglected the Word of God, how much greater is our neglect in an age where the full revelation of God’s Word is readily available and always just one-click away?       

As we read Josiah's response to the rediscovery of God's Word, we see that despite already receiving the prophetic news from the Lord that He was going to bring certain disaster upon the nation for their idolatry and wickedness, Josiah still continues in his duty as a servant of God to spur reformation and revival throughout the land over which he still has an influence. We can draw three big observations and some applications for our own time from this account of Josiah - the reforming King of Judah.

  • Josiah walked and talked obedience to God despite the inevitable outcome. Josiah was told that God’s judgment against the nation for its idolatry and wickedness could not be prevented, but Josiah didn’t use that as an excuse to remain complacent concerning his role and responsibilities in reforming the nation. The ship may have been sinking, but Josiah was determined to uphold his duties on board as long as the ship was still above water. It is not of any profit whatsoever to worry about what the future holds; it is simply our duty and responsibility to daily trust God and obey His Word. No matter what the future holds for our nation, we need to be asking ourselves, “What is my specific responsibility in working for reformation and revival among my own sphere of influence?” 
  • Josiah purified the land of its contamination with idols. In order to seek restoration for the people’s relationship with God, Josiah swept the nation clean of the various things that had led them astray. What are the idols that we have erected in our own lives that are contaminating our relationship with our God? What gets in the way of our wholehearted worship of God alone? Is it our career? Is it our favorite sports team or hobby? Is it our favorite television show? Is it our spouse? Is it our children? Is it the opinions of others? Is it our own image, status and popularity? Many of us need to undertake a massive purification in our own lives in order to get back to wholehearted worship of the only One we should be worshipping. 
  • Josiah re-instituted the Passover celebration which had been neglected and forgotten. When we fail to acknowledge what God has so graciously accomplished for us in the past, we set ourselves up for forgetting Him in the future. Josiah’s commitment and faithfulness to God led him to do something that even David and Hezekiah didn’t institute during their lifetime and reigns over the nation. Remembering, recalling and retelling the grace and greatness of our God fans the flame of revival and lays the only foundation on which reformation can firmly stand. What routines and disciplines have we instituted in our own life to help us remain focused on the faithfulness and promises of God? 

As we read about the rediscovery of “the Book of the Law”, may we ask ourselves the obvious question, “Where are our Bibles?” Do we have them front and center teaching, correcting, training and shaping our lives on a daily basis? Or do we continually find them forgotten, neglected and in need of rediscovery? Josiah and the people of Judah provide us with a valuable lesson from history - the condition of a man's Bible is a testament to the condition of a man's heart.

 

Hebrews 4: An eternal “rest” is the promised land for the people of God. As Christians wandering in the wilderness of this world, we must march on in faithfulness until we enter that promised land of rest. 

The truth contained in the Bible is a sword in our hand for this journey. It convicts, convinces, converts and comforts the Christian heart. Not only that, we have an active Advocate who continues to work on our behalf fully aware and fully understanding of our insecurities and weaknesses. Therefore, the Christian can rest in God's grace now as he continues on in confidence pursuing the promised rest of glory that awaits him in the future.