A brief overview of Lifeway’s Explore the Bible lesson of II Kings 22:8-20 for Sun., Aug. 28, 2022 “God Moves.” A video version of the overview is available on YouTube at:
INTRO: Have you ever been cleaning up, or digging through something — and come across an unusual find?
When I was a boy I traded my fleet of model ships for another friend’s baseball card collection. Years later I was digging through the attic and found those baseball cards: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Tom Seaver — and Nolan Ryan’s rookie card! What a great find — and they have just been shoved away in the attic!
But today we are going to look at an even greater “find” — when the word of God was “found” in the Temple of God in II Kings 22!
We left off last time with King Hezekiah “spreading out his request” before the Lord, and how God answered. (you might want to ask if anyone had any answered prayers this week, as they “spread out their requests before the Lord” this week. If not, encourage them to keep it up, and persevere in those prayers.)
But now King Hezekiah has passed away, his son Manasseh became king, and he was evil: Chapter 21 says he rebuilt the high places, and made altars for Baal, and killed a lot of innocent people. His son Amon, the next king, was also evil. So Israel had been in a “bad stretch” for a while spiritually.
Chapter 22 then opens with Josiah becoming king at 8 years old. Unlike his forefathers, he served the Lord. If you read the story of Josiah in II Chronicles 34, he began removing the high places and the idols. :3-7 in our present passage tell how he ordered Hilkiah the priest to get the money from the temple to repair the house of the Lord. So he tore down the false idols, and repaired the temple of God — this was the beginning of what historians call “the Josianic Revival” — the brief revival that took place in Israel when Josiah was king. (So an alternate introduction could be: were you ever part of a great revival? Today we are going to look at one of the great revivals in Bible history …)
This brings us to our focus passage for today, :8-20:
FOCUS PASSAGE :8-20 You COULD use an outline like this:
I. LOSING the word of God :8
II. REDISCOVERING the word of God :8
III. SHARING the word of God :10 Shaphan read it to the king
IV. RESPONDING to the word of God. Josiah’s response.
I. LOSING THE WORD OF GOD
:8 is one of the saddest, most ironic verses in all the Bible.
They are evidently doing repairs to the temple when Hilkiah the high priest says to Shaphan the scribe: “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.” That is a SHOCKING admission, isn’t it? They “FOUND the Book of the Law”?!
— So God’s word had been LOST
— It had been lost — in all places, IN THE HOUSE OF GOD!
(I saw a good summary of this, that included:
— WHAT was lost? The word of God! Our bread, our meat, our honey, our light, our direction, God’s own word to us — was lost!
— WHERE was it lost? In the Temple of God! In the very place where it should have been the most prominent, it had been lost.
— and WHO lost it? The priests, the ones who should have been teaching and keeping it, were the ones who had LOST it!
There are a couple of possibilities as to why the word had been lost:
1) one of the previous kings had destroyed the Scriptures, so someone may have hidden it to keep it from being burned.
2) it could have been lost just by neglect. They’d stopped consulting it and it had just been lost.
We really don’t know which; either one of them is bad!
ONE EXAMPLE you might use: most churches I’ve pastored have had some kind of “junk room,” where things get put. One pastor said, “That room is where things go to die!” Maybe you’ve got a room in your church like that. At FBC Angleton we’re in a brand new building, so we don’t have an “old junk room,” but we DO have an unfinished section out back, that we plan to build later. And we have noticed a lot of “stuff” is getting put out there — it’s becoming one of those “junk rooms.”
OR you might use the example of the “junk drawer” that many people have …
But sadly, THAT is what evidently happened to the BIBLE in those days in Israel. It had gotten “put away” into the “junk room,” or something like it, and had been lost there. The word of God! We need to make sure that never happens in our churches, and in our personal lives (more on that in a minute.)
— But here’s the thing: WHAT HAD THEY BEEN DOING in the temple, if they didn’t have the word of God? If they weren’t letting the Scripture guide them, what did they do? Well, there are several possibilities:
— They could’ve just done what they’d always done
— They could’ve done whatever seemed right to them at the time.
— They could’ve done what the nations around them were doing.
Basically that is: they could have followed:
— Tradition (doing what you’ve always done)
— Personal opinion: doing what I think best.
— Popular culture: imitating the culture around you.
That’s what happens when you abandon your commitment to the word of God. You follow tradition, personal opinion, or culture.
Does this happen in churches today? Absolutely! THE VERY SAME PROBLEMS they had in Josiah’s day, plague many churches today. The word of God, despite its wide availability, “gets lost” — even in the houses of God. Many pastors and churches have “set it aside in favor of those same things:
— for tradition
— for what seems right to them
— to copy what society around us does
??? What are some ways you’ve seen the word of God get lost in churches??? (How they follow this trio of tradition, culture, or their own feelings, rather than God’s word)
— pastors not preaching the word (preaching their own opinions, politics, culture, tradition, popular culture, instead of the word)
— churches not reading the word. I Timothy 4:13 “Give attention to the public reading of scripture” — how many churches don’t read the word any more?
— individual Christians not spending time every day reading the word.
— or if we DO read it, not letting it truly be our guide and authority. It’s not affecting our every day lives and decisions. We “know” it, but don’t OBEY it!
There are lots of ways “the word of God could be lost in the house of God” today! Let’s challenge our class NOT to let that happen — or if it HAS happened, to get back to it.
II. REDISCOVERING THE WORD
The SOLUTION: we need to “rediscover the word of God” in the house of God! The priests in Josiah’s days “found” the word of God somewhere in the Temple. Unlike Judah in those days, we KNOW where our Bibles ARE; but we need to make a commitment to “rediscover” it; to give it the place in our churches and in our own lives and families, that it should have. Then talk about how can we do that? You can think of many ways, but here’s a few suggestions:
— ONE GOOD WAY: keep doing what you are doing here: keep up a regular study of the word of God in your SS class. This systematic study through the Bible, without any “agenda” other than seeing what God has there, and applying it to our lives, is one of the best things we can do.
— We need to make sure the Bible is prominent in our churches. Encourage your pastor or church leaders to have a time of reading scripture in your regular services. I Timothy 4:12 “Give attention to the public reading of scripture.”
— One of the most important applications: make sure you are reading the Bible PERSONALLY every day. You can’t make everyone else in your church/our country do anything, but YOU can be faithful to God’s word. Be committed to read & study it daily. Join us in our Daily Bible reading plan. Or just start reading through books of the Bible, taking notes on what God shows you. Talk to your class about the importance of daily Bible readings. Maybe share an instance of how God has blessed YOU through it.
— A good way to apply this in your SS class is to begin each class time with a brief time of sharing from your personal Bible readings this week, before you begin the lesson. Tell them this Sunday: we are going to open next week with just 2-3 minutes and I’ll ask: “Who’s got something brief to share from your own Bible reading this week?” Come prepared to share something you’ve read. And as a teacher, you lead the way! Model for them the importance of being in God’s word every day. If you begin your class with a time like that, it will build accountability in your group of the importance of being in the word, AND it will grow your class spiritually, as they share from the word each week. I think it’s one of the best things you can do in your class.
III. SHARING THE WORD OF GOD
:10 “Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book,’ and Shaphan read it in the presence of the LORD.” We shouldn’t overlook that Hilkiah and Shaphan did not just FIND the word of God; they SHARED it. They took it to the King. Shaphan read it in the presence of the king.
— Then if you look ahead in 23:2, JOSIAH turns around and reads the Bible to the people! He’s SHARING God’s word!
This is a good example for us. When God shows you something in His word, SHARE it with someone. The truth is, if you’re reading God’s word regularly, you are going to want to bring it up in conversation – and God will show you opportunities to share it with people as you’re talking.
My wife Cheryl is the best at this. We’ll just be talking, and she’ll say, “This morning in I Samuel I read …” and she tell me what God spoke to her about. And I’ve seen her do that in numerous conversations with other people too — and of course, sometimes with lost people, which is a great witness. It doesn’t have to be a full gospel presentation. Just share with them in a natural way: “This morning I was reading a Proverb in my Bible that addresses that situation; it said …” and share God’s word with them. It will be a seed planted in their lives that God can use.
But the point is, when God shows us something in His word, we need to share it. (This is another good reason to have the Bible reading sharing time in your class each week. Get them used to sharing what they’ve read in His word. Hopefully it will help them do it more OUTSIDE of class too!)
IV. RESPONDING TO THE WORD OF GOD
In :11 it gives us Josiah’s response: “When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes.” Then :14-20 talk about how he sought the prophetess Huldah for her insight. Then as we saw, 23:2 he shares the word with the people.
Someone might wonder about this response of “tearing his clothes.” Tearing one’s clothes was a Biblical/Middle Eastern way of mourning in response to bad news. The first examples of it we see in the Bible are in Genesis, in the story of Joseph:
— 37:29 Reuben sees Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his garments. It was a sign of deep chagrin/mourning.
— Then 37:34 when his sons tell him Joseph is dead, his father Jacob “tore his clothes” and put on sackcloth and mourned.
— 44:12-13 the 10 brothers, when they saw the money was in their sack, and the cup in Benjamin’s, they tore their clothes.
And so on through the Bible. (There’s several more examples in the Teachers book on p. 136) When you are confronted with a deep, desperate, hurt, you would tear your clothes. Someone said it is “a voluntary and spontaneous self-humiliation” in light of a deep hurt. I might say it is an outward sign, of an inward hurt.
But evidently, over time it came to be more of an outward sign only for some people. When the prophet Joel prophesied of the judgment of God that was coming, he told the people in 2:13 that their response should be: “rend your hearts and not your garments.” In other words, it had become a kind of “traditional response” to tear your clothes when you hear bad news like that; but he said, “Don’t just make the ‘traditional response’ of tearing your garments; he said; “rend your HEART!” Let God’s word cut you to the HEART, and be sincerely repentant before God. THAT is the response He wants.
You could take some time to talk about all the different ways that we see Josiah respond to God’s word:
— with mourning and humility in :11, tearing his clothes
— by seeking God (gong to Huldah, :14-20)
— by sharing it with others 23:2
— by making specific repentant changes 23:4+, taking down idols, etc.
Josiah is a great model for us in how he responded to God with humility and mourning and seeking God. Whenever we hear God’s word, we have a response to it.
There was another king who had the word of God read to him:
Jeremiah 36 says Jeremiah sent Baruch the scribe to read the word to King Jehoiakim (Josiah’s son), and :23 says he cut it up with a knife and threw it into the fire. :24 specifically says they did NOT rend their garments!
WHICH KING WILL WE BE LIKE? Josiah or Jehoiakim? Of course, we want to respond like Josiah, in humility, repentance, obedience, and sharing.
THAT is what God wants from us as well.
You might ask your group at the end of this lesson: OK, we’ve heard this word from God; how are WE going to respond to it?
Maybe you can ask that as a rhetorical question to think and pray about — or maybe in your group some people might really share:
— I am going to start reading my Bible
— God’s been showing me something specific in His word, and He’s convicting me that I need to really DO it!
— We are going to begin sharing from our readings in our class next week
Whatever you/they have on your hearts. But the important thing is: make sure you RESPOND to the word.
Every week after I preach I ask our church: “What is your response to the word of God?” God’s word is not just something to HEAR, but to DO!
Remember in Matthew 7 Jesus told the story of the two men, one who build his foundation on the rock, and one who built his foundation on the sand. And what did He say was the difference between the two? One heard His words and DID them; and the other heard His words but did not DO them. Our response to the word of God is everything; it makes all the difference. Make sure you/your group know the importance of RESPONDING to the word!
God bless you as you share the importance of HIS WORD with your class this week!