Lost and Found from the Top Down

Nothing gets my hackles up like losing something. My forehead wrinkles up, my face turns beet red, and veins start popping up on my neck when I can’t find the thing I’m looking for. It doesn’t have to be a big item or an important item to set me off. Whether it’s misplaced car keys or my glasses…I turn into the Hulk when I’ve had to play Sherlock Holmes more than a few minutes. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that many of you are just like me when it comes to losing things. In a matter of mere minutes, we go from humming “Jesus Loves the Little Children” while we are looking for the misplaced item to morphing into little Tazmanian Devils, spewing out adjectives and adverbs with impressive speed and creativity as the situation turns more hopeless. It’s a sick feeling…maddening.

Along that same line, it’s also a sweet and precious moment when you finally find what you’re looking for. The heart cries out “Eureka!” Suddenly, the world is good again. The moment demands a song. So you start singing, “I Believe I Can Fly.” You begin gliding around the room looking very much like Fred Astaire and/or Ginger Rogers. Life can now resume…NOW you can get back to calling the shots. Your kingdom is now reestablished. Oh the bliss!

But there is another scenario that can unfold in this lost and found business…and that’s when you stumble across something you weren’t even looking for…or something you had forgotten was lost in the first place. I’ve had this happen more than a few times in my half-century on this rock. Just recently a cat toy went under the couch. While mining for the toy, I discovered my favorite ink pen that I was convinced aliens or Casper the friendly ghost had swiped not more than a month ago. As crazy as it sounds, the Bible has a very powerful story about this very situation. Of course it wasn’t a set of car keys, a pair of glasses, or an ink pen that was found. No, it was something much more important. 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34 tell the story of how the “Book of the Law” was found during the reign of Josiah, the king of Judah. Josiah was only 8 years old when he became king. His grandfather, Mannasseh, had been one of the most wicked kings in Judah’s history (though he seems to repent and seek God’s forgiveness in 2 Chron 33). Josiah’s father, Amon, was king for only two years…but the Bible clearly lays out his sinfulness during his reign. Josiah fell far from the tree. He was a godly king. Unlike his father, Josiah truly wanted to bring Judah back in line with what God expected from His people. Scholars often refer to Josiah’s efforts as “reforms” during his 31 year reign.

The Bible tells us during the 18th year of his reign, something unexpected and quite extraordinary happened. As work was being done on the Temple and pertinent matters were being addressed, Hilkiah the priest, finds the Book of the Law that had been given by Moses. Though Josiah was a godly young leader and was making strides in his effort to reform the nation, more was needed. Hilkiah wasn’t looking for the book…and neither was Josiah…but it was found nonetheless. Hilkiah tells Shaphan, the secretary, what he had found. Shaphan takes the book immediately to Josiah and begins to read it to the king. It doesn’t take Josiah long to hear how sinful the nation had become in light of God’s revelation by Moses. He tears his robe…broken over the sinfulness of the people under his charge. The Book makes it plain that Judah had forsaken God, pursued and worshipped other gods, and had provoked God to anger more than a few times in her less-than-stellar history.

Josiah’s reaction sets the stage for a nation-wide revival of sorts after hearing how they had drifted from God. Most of the time, finding something…even if by accident, brings a sense of relief. This was not the case with Josiah. Quite literally, the revival began with the king as he acknowledged his guilt and that of Judah’s. This acknowledgement was followed by genuine repentance. Our Bibles tell us that a Passover celebration was planned and executed…along with the parting phrase that a Passover had not been celebrated like this since the days of Samuel…a very LONG time ago.

We should note this revival and celebration began with the finding of “the Bible” for that time period. It’s interesting to consider the book Hilkiah found was literally the first five books of the Bible…or at least portions or excerpts from those books. Books like Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy don’t often thrill us. We tend to look for books, chapters, and verses that seem to address our specific needs or wants. We like the good, happy, victorious passages that tend to read like a Hallmark movie script. Josiah, however, was mature beyond his years. He knew and believed the very words of that book were from God…and that alone made them deeply personal, helpful, and critically important.

I also think it’s important to note how Josiah trying to be “good” was not enough. He needed to hear from God…and he did…from the discovered book. It’s a fairly safe assumption we would have most likely given Josiah a free pass…especially when compared to dad and grandpa. The nation was a mess and they definitely needed to hear from God…but so did Josiah. And while he was already a good king and doing a nice job of trying to move the nation’s spiritual rudder, he still needed “God’s Word.” He had to move from merely human effort to a real response to God and His Word. What a message this is for us. We must remember a closed Bible is very much like the Book of the Law getting lost in the Temple. Our own effort can only take us so far. Josiah went as far as he could go. Hilkiah’s great discovery of the Book of the Law had the familiar feel of Providence at work. In short, God was involved in the discovery. The young king paid attention, listened, and responded. The revival started from the top…and spread to many in the land.

Today, much of what we see is human effort…and it doesn’t appear to be going well. We are quickly learning the world has changed. Our unprecedented arrogance has oozed down into decision-making and we’ve ended up with some real duds and doozies laid to our charge. With a plethora of opinions and a general unconcern for the greater good, America seems desperate for solutions and willing to listen to anyone…everyone…but not the One whose voice carries the most weight. Instead of asking God to swoop in and save the day…perhaps we should pray for His Providential hand to help us discover His book again. Maybe what is needed the most is not a new direction…but rather a much older one. God speaks…we listen…and then we do or go. This approach is a dandy and comes with blessings. It always has.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read! Means more than I can say. Blessings to you and your family!

Bro Mark

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