In II Kings 23, King Josiah led a revival in Judah when God’s word was rediscovered in the Temple. The book of the Law was read aloud to him by Shaphan the scribe (22:10) and it had a profound effect on the king. Josiah wept and tore his clothes (:19), which were signs of mourning, and he sought God’s leadership through His prophet. Then Josiah turned around and did for Israel what had so impacted him:
Chapter 23 says that Josiah gathered all the people of Jerusalem and Judah to the house of God. And verse 2 says, “He read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant which was found in the house of the Lord.” And then he began what became known as the “Josianic Revival” in Israel, tearing down idols which had been worshipped, and helping the people to renew the covenant with God.
There is power in the reading of the word of God. When Shaphan read it aloud, it brought conviction to Josiah’s heart. Because it had such an impact on his own life, Josiah then read it to the people, and undoubtedly it played a significant role in the revival that followed.
Ephesians 6:17 calls scripture “the sword of the Spirit.” Hebrews 4:12 tells us “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.” Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
There is great power when the word of God is read aloud. That is why Paul commanded Timothy in I Timothy 4:13, “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation and teaching.”
Unfortunately, many of our churches neglect the very thing Paul admonished us to observe. Most churches spend much more time in sharing man’s thoughts about scripture, than they do in reading the scriptures themselves. While preaching and teaching are also commanded by God in I Timothy 4:13, perhaps a bit of a correction is in order. Josiah, Judah, and unnumbered hosts of people since, have been dramatically impacted by the mere reading of the word of God, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us recommit ourselves like Josiah did to “give attention to the public reading of scripture” that God might revive us and our churches as well.