2 Kings 22:8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it.
It seems incredible to us that the Law of Moses would have gotten misplaced in the temple of the Lord, but that shows how far the nation had fallen spiritually. One factor was that books in general were rare and valuable, because each one had to be hand-copied, but that should have ensured that the scroll be kept in a safe place of honor. Actually, it’s possible that it was, but people had just forgotten that it was there. That’s actually the case in many American households today. They have a Bible or two on the shelf, or even on the coffee table, but it becomes part of the décor and is never opened and consulted. That brings to mind a question my seminary professor grandfather regularly asked his students: how big is your Bible? They would naturally protest, “Why Dr. Carver, it’s at least as big as yours, or maybe a little bigger.” He would respond, “I’m not talking about what’s in your hand, but what’s in your heart.” With electronic versions available for smart phones, today it’s possible to have a Bible with you constantly, but if you aren’t taking it into your heart to do it, it does you no good. I have read a statistic that a majority of pastors, even, never read the Bible except to prepare sermons. In such cases, it’s highly probable the sermons aren’t much good! From the time of Moses onward, people of God stressed that God’s Word is to be in our hearts and mouths. (Deuteronomy 30:14) If we aren’t taking it in and digesting it to do it, to make it part of ourselves, then we are only deceiving ourselves. (James 1:22) In today’s passage, the people and even the priests had been going through the motions of temple worship and the like, but with no grasp of the meaning of what they were doing or what lay behind it. Today there are many people who go to church strictly as an obligation, with no personal relationship to the Lord they say they worship. That’s the very definition of meaningless religion.
As a pastor, this is a matter of great importance, even urgency, for me. I have considerable knowledge of the Bible, but if I’m not living it out I’m deceiving myself. I desire that the believers be faithful, but if they’re faithful to the church without being faithful to God the other six days of the week, it’s meaningless. I prefer the term, believers, to calling them members, but if their faith is in an organization rather than in a Savior, it again is meaningless. My challenge is to lead each one to discover how much God loves them individually, and then to respond to that in loving obedience. I strive to get as much of the Word into them as possible, but chewing, swallowing, and digesting are their responsibility. I certainly can’t force them to do any of that, so I am to pray for them that their hearts may be open to the Holy Spirit who will do those things in them. After all, He’s the Author of the Bible, so who better to interpret it to us in ways we can understand and apply?
Father, thank You for this Word, and for clarifying what I am to speak on this Sunday. It’s interesting that preaching less often makes it harder to prepare messages. Help me indeed transmit what You speak to me so that nothing will stop the flow, but many be blessed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!