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Kings Lesson 39 - The Lost Book

Kings Lesson 39 - The Lost Book

by Stephen Davey Ref: 2 Kings 22

Prior to the reign of young King Josiah, the scriptures had been misplaced. They were lost. Can you imagine what that would be like today? What if all the Bibles in the world suddenly disapeared? The truth is, while we have billions of copies of Scripture in different languages and translations, the Gospel is becoming as lost now as it was then. How do we rediscover God's Word in the 21st Century? The answer is found in II Kings chapter 22.

Transcript

“THE LOST BOOK”

(2 Kings 22:2 Chronicles 34)

One of the men I attended seminary with was an avid scuba diver.  It was fascinating to learn how he operated, with safety, under water.  Don told me that when you’re deep under water - there's no way you can tell which way is up because the water diffuses the light.  You're also totally weightless, so you have no sense of gravity.  Surrounded in an aura of light along with being weightless, it's very easy to lose all sense of direction and become disoriented.  You may sense that this way (point left) is up and that your air bubbles are going sideways!  You may be so convinced that your perception is true that you decide to ignore your bubbles and go the way you think is up, and swim to your death.  One of the first things he was told when he was learning to scuba-dive was to always trust the air bubbles, to always follow the bubbles.  No matter how you feel, no matter what you think, the bubbles were always right. 

Today, our society is a group of scuba divers . . . disoriented . . . . confused.  They don't know which way is up.  They're following their own opinions of what’s up and down; what’s right and wrong - or following the directions of other disoriented swimmers who say, "Live like this," "Believe this," "Think this way, not that way.”

According to the Book, “The Day America Told the Truth” 1991; 74% of Americans will steal from those who won’t miss it;  64% will lie for convenience as long as no one is hurt.  93% say they alone decide moral issues, basing their decisions on their own experience or opinion.

Michael Loftis, who was with us last week, told me an interesting story about the time he and his family were in the British Museum.   There were hundreds of people filling the crowded aisles and bunched together in front of displays.  He and his family had the unique privilige of standing in front of a glass display that held the original Alexandrinus - an ancient Greek copy of the Bible - given as a gift to King James of England.  The same King James who authorized the translation of the King James Bible.  Can you imagine seeing first hand, nothing less than the miraculous preservation of scripture - a manuscript 15 centuries old.   Michael said, “Stephen, the sad thing was, we were the only people looking at the ancient copy of scripture - he said, the crowd was in a frenzy to get past them to a display of music autographed and composed by the Beatles.

This Book, ladies and Gentlemen has en effect, become a lost Book.

What’s the problem?  Like divers who do not follow their own bubbles;  we no longer follow our Bibles.  Even though there are millions of copies of this Book - it has become lost in the murky dark waters of unbelief or disregard.

Unfortunately, the Word it is treated in similar fashion by the “believing world”.

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association estimates that the average religious home in America contains at least 4 Bibles.  Yet the same symptoms of a lost world emerge from religious homes and churches.

The problem is, while the Bible sits on lamp stands and in living rooms, it is not allowed to sift into our lives!

There is a difference between having a Bible inside your home, and having a Bible inside your heart.

I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that we need to re-discover the Word that is alive and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword.  Like some relic from an archeological dig, we need to re-discover the truth that God doesn’t just want us to possess your Bible, He wants your Bible to possess you.  

How do we re-discover the Word?  Well, the answer is found in the Book of 2 Kings, chapter 22.

While your turning, let me set the stage for one of the most dramatic discoveries of God’s word in the Old Testament.

In our last discussion as we’ve nearly completed our studies through Kings and Chronicles, we began the biography of a young boy who became the King of Judah.  And we carefully noted his age - he became the king when other children his age were entering the third grade.

And to our amazement, although his grandfather and father were ungodly, he was godly.

You may remember that Ezra informed us in the Chronicles account that Josiah was 16 years of age when he began a lifelong passion for knowing the God of his father David. 

He yearned to know God in and through the events of his life - he learned to look for God like we looked for the color blue throughout the auditorium.

Then when he was 20 years old he began to purge the land of idolatry and evil.

Finally, and this is where we stopped, when he turned 26th years old, or as Jeremiah records in 2 Kings, when he was in his 18th year of reign, Josiah made an announcement.  Notice 2 Kings 22:3.  Now it came about in the 18th year of King Josiah that the king sent Shaphan, the son of Azxaliah the son of Mehullam the scribe, to the house of the Lord saying, 4.  “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest that he may count the money brought in to the house of the Lord which the doorkeeper have gathered from the people.  5.  And let them deliver it 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 in the house of the Lord to repair the damages of the house.  6.  To the carpenters and the builders and the masons and for buying timber and hewn stone to repair the house. 7.  Only no accounting shall be made with them for the money delivered into their hands, for they deal faithfully. 

Can you imagine - raise all the money - give it to the workers and then don’t bog them down with financial reports.  Let them build!

What a wonderful scene - it’s an incredible picture of partnership - just as we together have the privilege - in verse 4 the people make it possible as they contribute to the work on God’s house.

The finances are raised.  That’s the first point.

The second principle follows - the workers are released.

You ought to circle all the different occupations or groups of people referenced in this paragraph.   Circle in verse 4 - the high priest, the doorkeepers, the people.  v. 5.  The workmen.  v. 6.  the carpenters, the builders, the masons.

Ezra adds in 2 Chronicles, musicians and burden bearers.

An exciting work of God is never accomplished by a select few - it is accomplished by a unified people to the cause.

Take a hard look inside your Communique - its a plea for people to participate instead of spectate.

In the book of Acts, the exploding church at Jerusalem chapter 2 verse 46 tells us that they were continuing together with one mind - one passion - one purpose - to glorify God and reach their world for the risen Christ.

Now, suddenly, the construction project is halted because of an archaeological discovery.

v. 8.  Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.”

The Hebrew is more dramatic.  It literally says, “The Book of the Law I have found!”

It was probably a scroll written on animal skin - popularized over papyrus during this time.

The deninte article, “The book of the Law” most often refers to the entire pentateuch - the first five books of the Old Testament.  However, Ezra, in Chronicles adds the words, “Given by Moses”.   Since the 4th century, this phrase has been understood as a specific reference to Deuteronomy - most likely a discovery of Deuteronomy, the last book of Moses was discovered.

The question I asked was, “How’d it get lost??”

The Jewish nation was incredibly tenacious with it’s preservations and transmission of scripture.  This passage indicates that all they had of the law was this book that had only then been discovered.

Josephus wrote in the first century that faithful priests actually hid the scroll in the bottom of one of the temple chests.

So, was it really lost?  It was lost in the same way your Bible sometimes gets lost.  Sir, the reason you had your kids looking all over the house for your Bible this morning is because you hadn’t looked at it since last Sunday!  You with me? All the women say, “Amen!”  All the men say, “Stick to the text!”

It gets lost when several days go by without looking at it. 

For 75 years, under the reign of Manasseh and then under the reign of Amon, including the 18 years between Josiah’s coronation as King as an 8 year old to this point as a 26 year old - the scripture was lost from becuase, frankly,  no one wanted to see it.

It was lost because it was no longer loved!

When the Bible is not longer consulted and studied and applied, even though in our generation, there are millions of copies in print - it is, in effect a lost Book!

Now, the Bible tells us that Shaphan the scibe came and read the Book of Deuteronomy to the King.  Notice verse 10.  Moreover, Shaphan the scirbe told the king sayins, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.”  And Shaphan read it in the presence of the king.  11.  And it came about when the king heard the words of the book of the law, that he tore his clothes.

That’s the symbol for repentance and humility.

The reading of this book provoked deep repentance.  Frankly, I find it amazing that reading from Deuteronomy would provoke anything.

When’s the last time you read Deuteronomy and tore your clothes. 

Here’s a thought, we have 65 additional books of the Bible - we have the completed word from God, our canon of scripture is complete - can you imagine what impact God wants that to have on our lives.

Especially when we observe Josiah who had only a few passages from a Book we rarely open.

The impact of hearing from God, the ultimate standard of holiness changed his life.

You may have heard this story somewhere - it’s quoted and copied a lot these days;  this true story first appeared in the magazine produced by the Naval Institute, “Proceedings”. 

While on maneuvers, a battleship lookout noted a light in the dark, foggy night.  After noting the light's coordinates, the captain recognized his ship was on a collision course with the other vessel.  "Signal the ship:  We are on a collision course, advise you change course 20 degrees."  The return signal came, "Advisable for you to change course 20 degrees."  The captain said, "Send, I'm a captain, change course 20 degrees."  "I'm a seaman second class," came the reply.  "You had better change course 20 degrees."  By this time the captain was furious.  He yelled, "Send, I am a battleship.  Change course 20 degrees."  The reply came flashing back - "I am a lighthouse."

Oops.

Josiah simply discovered the presence of God’s authority through the word - and he immediately altered his course of action. 

Josiah responded with immediate personal application - notice verse 13.  Josiah says, “Go, inquire of the Lord for me and the people and all Judah concerning the words of this Book that has been found, for great is the wrath of the Lord that burns against us, because our fathers have not listened to the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”

The key words are at the beginning of the verse and the end of the verse - “Go inquire of the Lord for ME!  last part. . .to do according to all that is written concerning US!”

The hardest person in the world to apply the word to is yourself.

He applied the word to his own life first!

Notice verse 18.  (The prophetess Huldah sends word back to King Josiah...”But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord thus shall you say to him, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, “Regarding the words which you have heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolations and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you, declares the Lord.

            Re-discovering the Ministry of the Word:

-the word is to have a ministry of liberation         

John 8 records the words of Jesus Christ to his audience - “If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples; and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” 

There is the initial moment of freedom when God judicially pronounces you forgiven; the account of Jesus Christ pays for your individual guilt and sin;

But there is a continuing experience of freedom - a lifestyle of freedom that occurs when you, as His disciple, apply the truth to your life.

The ministry of liberation occurs when this Book moves out of your living rooms and into your life!

Notice chapter 23 verse 3.  And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, TO WALK after the Lord, and TO KEEP His commandments and His tesimonies and His statues with all his heart and all his soul, and TO CARRY OUT the words of this covenant that were written in this book.

He’s making a public dedication to put the word to work in his walk.

Study sometime the word walk -

walk in newness of life,

            walk by faith,

                        walk by the Spirit,

                                    walk in love,

                                                walk as children of the light

The Bible makes an interesting distinction between those who walk and those who wander.

Secondly, the word is to have a ministry of transformation

Romans 12 - don’t be conformed to this world system, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.

The verb, “to be transformed” in the Greek N.T. is passive.  That means you don’t transform yourself - in fact, you can’t do it to yourself.  It has to happen by some agency other than you!

We discover in the Book of Colossians that the agency is God himself through his word which dwells within us.  Takes up residency and moves in and through us.

Howard Hendricks told my class one day the story of the man who came up to him and bragged,  “I’ve been through the Bible 19 times.”  Hendricks responded, “And how many times has the Bible been through you?

You discover the ministry of liberation - you’re set free - then to discover the word is going to radically change you.

That introduces the third ministry of the word.  It is a ministry of evaluation

James 1 refers to the word as a mirror - into which we look for the specific purpose of changing by way of evaluation.

Now when you got out of bed, you all looked into a mirror - 100% of us had the same conclusion - emergency repair is needed.   Damage occurred throughout the night.

Nobody ever argues with mirrors.  The mirror doesn’t change - you do.

When Josiah saw his life and his nation in the reflection of the word, chapter 23 simply reveals the changes he began to institute - his kingdom was in need of repair.

Will pick our study back up at this point - but first, two truths that come from this portion of Josiah’s biography.

1) Being confronted and exposed to the truth does not guarantee being changed by the truth.  

It’s possible to be exposed to the word without experiencing the word - that is, putting the word into practice.

Chapter 23 will reveal that certain priests who were exposed to the same passages of scripture refused to worship God correctly.

Imagine, you are driving down the highway when you encounter a sign that reads, "Dangerous Curve Ahead."  Immediately you are confronted with making a choice.  One, you can observe the warning and slow down. Two, you can ignore the warning and maintain your rate of speed.  Or, three, you can defy the warning and speed up. Whatever response you exercise, you will not change the truth of the sign.  The curve remains dangerous, regardless of whether you acknowledge the fact or not.

The prevalent attitude of our generation has this approach: let’s cover up the danger signs and then build a hospital at the bottom of the cliff!

2) Being teachable and submissive to the word does guarantee a life of change and transformation.

The question every believer is challenged to ask after studying this portion of Josiah’s biography is this - “Is the word at work in my life?!

Have you allowed it to liberate you from the penalty of sin through salvation.

Are you allowing it to transform your life - are you allowing it to correct and change, and carve and cut away all that about you which is unlike the image of Jesus Christ.

Mens’ breakfast!

In March of 1986, in Bel Air, Maryland, a 25 year old man (his name was not released) was given a traffic ticket for not having his toddler secured in a car seat.  The young man grumbled about the ticket and fastened his son into the appropriate restraint.  The ticket was stuffed in the glove compartment.  Nineteen minutes later this man and his young son were involved in an accident.  The little toddler sustained a few minor injuries but was protected by the restraints of his car seat.  Unfortunately, the father was killed.  You see, although he heeded the warning to fasten his son's seat belt, he never buckled his own.

 

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