Renewed by the Word! -- 2 Kings 22:8, 11-13a; 23:1-6

Renewed by the Word! -- 2 Kings 22:8, 11-13a; 23:1-6
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 25, 2018

The English preacher G. Campbell Morgan was known as the “prince of expositors” in his day. When he was a young man, he went through a period of doubting the truthfulness of God’s Word. To find some answers for himself, he locked away all of his books and bought a new Bible. He committed himself to studying it until he knew if it was God’s Word or not. The result was clear. He said, “That Bible found me.” Morgan devoted the rest of his life to studying and preaching God’s Word.

Hilkiah found the book of the law while making repairs to the temple. When the book was read to King Josiah, it “found him” and became the blueprint for his reign. His grandfather Manasseh worshipped Baal, Asherah, practiced the worship of stars, participated in sorcery, consulted mediums and spiritists, and sacrificed one of his own sons in the fire! Though he turned to the Lord at the end of his reign, Scripture blamed him for Jerusalem’s and Judah’s destruction. His successor Amon followed in his father’s evil footsteps. After a short reign, Amon’s officials assassinated him (2 Kings 21:1-26)! Amon’s son Josiah became king afterwards. Josiah was renewed by the Word! Let’s discover how…

READ: 2 Kings 22:8, 11-13a; 23:1-6

Amon’s son Josiah became king after Amon’s death. Josiah walked in the ways of his forefather David, instituting some far-reaching religious reforms in Judah. He based his reforms on the book of the law that Hilkiah the high priest found in the temple. We discover that…

I. Renewal comes when we evaluate God’s Word for ourselves! (2 Kings 22:8, 10-13a NIV)

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… When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found.”

  1. The renovation of Solomon’s temple was taking place after many years of neglect and pagan worship being set up inside it walls. Remember that Hezekiah’s chief influence seems to have been the prophet Isaiah but his grandson Josiah’s chief influence was the law book discovered in the temple. Second Chronicles 34:3 records that in the eighth year of his reign (at age 16), he began to seek the Lord. That search led Josiah in the 12th year as king (at age 20) to begin purging Jerusalem and Judah of all practices and places that had to do with the worship of Baal. In the 18th year of Josiah’s reign (at age 26), Hilkiah the high priest found the book of the law while repairing the temple. The book of the law was Scripture, most likely part of Deuteronomy or possibly the entire Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. “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 is amazing that the Word of God can have such an impact but it does! Shaphan cannot keep the words to his self and he reads them to his king. “When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.” It was an act of contrition and repentance. The Words of God have that effect. Some believe it might have been the temple copy mentioned in Deuteronomy 31:25-26. The word translated book refers to a written document that was in the form of a scroll, and it probably was written in columns. The king then “gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: ‘Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found.’” The king is jubilant because renewal comes when we evaluate God’s Word for ourselves!

  EXAMPLE: When we are confronted with God’s Word in our lives we have to decide whether we will follow it or not. A halfway commitment is like a lukewarm cup of coffee—worth only to spit out! Jesus spoke to the church of Laodicea in Revelation concerning this: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16 NIV)” He rebukes them: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:19-20 NIV)” Renewal comes when we evaluate God’s Word for ourselves!

To be renewed by Scripture, God’s people must encounter the Bible by reading and hearing it taught and preached. Through this God’s people can learn what the Lord thinks about their actions and lifestyles. Scripture warns them of the tragic consequences of sinful actions and the positive consequences of obedience to God’s Word. We discover that…

II. God’s Word brings us to make a commitment! (2 Kings 23:1-3 NIV)

Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the LORD with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets--all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD--to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

  1. Josiah commanded Hilkiah and some of his officials to form a commission and investigate further into Judah’s guilt and what ought to be done. “Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem.” They were to seek answers from God, not from some idol or through divination. God’s Word had disturbed Josiah and caused him to encounter God in a way that made him reevaluate his actions and lifestyles as well as those of his people. This is why as king, “He went up to the temple of the LORD with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets--all the people from the least to the greatest.” All of Judah was called to a public assembly. The circle widened from the king to extend throughout his kingdom. “He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD.” When everyone was assembled, Josiah read from the book of the covenant that Hilkiah had found in the temple. The public reading of Scripture was a vital part of the spiritual renewal. The people heard what God required and prohibited, and Josiah had those commands implemented. “The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD--to follow the LORD and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book.” Josiah stood by the pillar before his people and made a covenant in the presence of the Lord and the people. The pillar was probably one of the two bronze 35-foot tall bronze pillars that stood on either side of the temple’s entrance and were named Jachin, meaning “he shall establish,” and Boaz, meaning “in the strength of.” The King in his wisdom knew he had to lead the way and he was more than willing to do so. And after the people saw he was willing to be true to the Word of God, “Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant” as well! We discover that God’s Word brings us to make a commitment!

  EXAMPLE: In the past many Baptist churches had a “Church Covenant” that listed responsibilities a person assumed on becoming a church member. Some churches would display a large copy of that covenant on the front wall of the sanctuary facing the congregation. It reminded the people of their decision to follow the Lord and what it meant to be a member. The covenant was often the basis of church discipline against one who was accused of not carrying out these responsibilities. We discover that God’s Word brings us to make a commitment!

Encountering God’s Word led Josiah and his people to recommit themselves to the Lord and to the purposes of his kingdom. A fresh encounter by God’s people today with his Word will lead them to recommit themselves as well. Sometimes we can be reminded by the Word that we have things that hinder our relationship with the Lord. We discover here that…

III. Encountering the Word of God causes us to remove anything that interferes! (2 Kings 23:4-6 NIV)

The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel. He did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem--those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the LORD to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people.

  1. The Word of God has a tendency to bring about change and often the very first thing that has to occur for that change to take place is for the recipient to get rid of anything in their life that hinders the work of God. This is why “The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts.” We discover that the change began with the Temple itself. All of the article that referred to pagan worship were to be removed, but Hilkiah goes a step further, “He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel.” The fields of the Kidron probably referred to the place where dead bodies were cast as well as ashes of various kinds (Jeremiah 33:5). Sweepings of the temple and refuse of the city also were carried there. The place known as Tophet in the Valley of Hinnom was nearby. The whole area was considered to be defiled. Josiah took the objects of idolatrous worship that had defiled the temple to where they belonged—in the place of defilement, where he burned them. In Jesus’ day it was known as Gehenna. Then the king carried their ashes to Bethel where Jeroboam I had first officially sanctioned idolatry in Israel. Taking the ashes to Bethel was a way to desecrate one of the sites of idol worship. After removing the various objects associated with idolatry, the king did away with the idolatrous priests the former kings of Judah had appointed to lead in idol worship, “those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. He took the Asherah Pole from the temple of the LORD to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there.” Josiah removed the pole once again and threw out its ashes where it belonged—with the dead. But he went further and “He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people.” Grinding the ashes to a powder was a symbol of absolute destruction. Scattering the ashes over the graves of the common or regular people was an act of desecration of the idol and also of all the people who were guilty of idol worship. Encountering God anew in his Word led Josiah to remove everything that competed with giving first and absolute loyalty to the Lord.

  EXAMPLE: If you want to restore a piece of furniture to its old glory you have to be willing to put in a lot of “elbow grease”, meaning time and effort. Stripping, sanding, and gluing joints. Then comes the process of refinishing with several coats of finish, in between sanding, and polishing. In order to restore something back to its original condition it takes removing anything that interferes with the finial finish! Encountering the Word of God causes us to remove anything that interferes!

Conclusion:

Renewal comes when we evaluate God’s Word for ourselves! God’s Word brings us to make a commitment! Encountering the Word of God causes us to remove anything that interferes!
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This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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