SUSAN TYNER | CONTRIBUTOR
When it comes to having a moment of private worship with God, lots of things tend to get in the way. A snooze button, a stack of work deadlines, a pile of laundry. Imagine if you were a king with a whole country to run. The pressures of managing a national economy, foreign affairs, and court intrigues would wake me up and carry me past my Bible and towards the shower to meet all the demands. For King Josiah in 2 Kings 22, God decided even a king needs to read his Bible.
Lost and Found
Josiah was a young king who loved God, made evident by his wreaking havoc on all false worship centers in Judah and Israel. But one day, when his scribe came by to report progress at the temple, he casually added that the priest had found a book. This paper scroll, probably Moses’s Book of Deuteronomy, hit the light of day after being missing for years.
What’s crazy is that the book was lost in the first place. After all, it was the covenant agreement of God with His people. These were the founding principles of their nation; the vows of the relationship between God and Israel. Imagine us misplacing the U.S. Constitution or a wedding ring. No wonder so much evil had happened in God’s land when His people didn’t value this book enough to keep up with it. Had someone misplaced it as they made room for more important things, like Baal hymnals or Asherah collection plates? Did they discover it dusty, smushed under other scrolls and cobwebs in some janitor’s closet?
Not an Easy Read
This was no bedtime story brought to Josiah. God had made a relationship with His people and this book included the blessings and the curses of this relationship. If they obeyed God, they would enjoy His presence in their lives and the blessings that brought. But Josiah also heard what would happen to God’s people if they did not love Him, did not obey Him, did not worship Him exclusively. And, Josiah had first-hand knowledge of how badly the people had fallen into false worship. According to the same story in 2 Chronicles 34, he had been spending a lot of energy desecrating, destroying, and pulverizing centuries worth of covenant unfaithfulness. But even though Josiah had been trying to clean up the place, he saw in black and white that the covenantal math added up to well-deserved destruction. Josiah freaked out.
Tearing his clothes in mourning, Josiah sent a group to ask God what to do. The prophetess Huldah answered that yes, things were so bad that destruction was coming, but because of Josiah’s tender heart, it would not happen in his lifetime. God would delay judgment.
Tender Heart; Fast Feet
How did Josiah respond to Huldah’s words? Did he kick back, order a drink, and enjoy the reprieve? No, his tender heart sent his feet to do the next good thing. While Josiah had the passion for God before, now he had the event planning document for celebrating this covenant relationship! This new found book was also meant to be shared with God’s people. Josiah read it aloud then vowed his covenant commitment to God in front of them and asked them to decide if they would too. A resounding YES! followed. The people renewed their vows to God and celebrated with the most over the top Passover feast ever hosted by a king of Israel.
I Need a Quiet Time Too
So, when my alarm jolts me awake, what keeps my fingers from hitting the snooze button instead of grabbing coffee for my quiet time with God? What did Josiah find in God’s Word that I need today? I may not have a nation to run, but I need God’s word as much as Josiah did. As God’s Word gave Josiah an idea of what relationship with God means, it was given for me to know that as well. I may not be responsible for tearing down the high places in Israel, but I do need to tear down the high places of my heart.
Have we lost The Book?
Josiah’s story reminds us that the Bible can get lost. Sure, you may have a leather Bible on the shelf, complete with your name stamped in gold letters, but are the pages worn and wrinkled from use? Do we recognize that the neglect of our own private study of God’s Word will subtly and slowly make the Bible disappear from our families and communities? If so, it is not enough to find it and dust it off. We must also bring tender hearts that engage with His Word so that our feet will run to action.
From Me to We
And, like Josiah, we should not be content to just read God’s Word alone. We must engage with God’s Word with the greater covenant community. Corporate worship, Bible studies, and Sunday schools all provide a way for God’s people to learn about, commit to, and celebrate an incredible relationship with their God.
I’m no Josiah, but I am in regular need of God’s Word
My soul needs it to breathe. When I am sad, I can find the words to pray. When I am hurt or angry, I see how to walk the path of forgiveness. When I wonder what the point of this life is, I see God’s perspective as better than my own. Even when I feel like I’m getting nothing out of reading my Bible, it is still a tether to a covenant relationship that weathers all emotions.
Not bad for a little quiet time.
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash