Shelby G. Floyd
We have a wonderful crowd today and we are glad that all of you came out to worship God. I hope that all of you have brought your Bible or have one from the seat in front of you. About 680 BC, Hezekiah became mortally sick. Isaiah the prophet said to him, “Thus says the Lord, set your house in order, you shall die and not live” (2 Kings 20:1). How would you like to get a message like that from Almighty God? Most people want to live as long as they possibly can to carry out their activities and their goals that they have in life. Hezekiah was no different from any of us. He wanted to live and not die. Therefore Hezekiah then prayed to the Lord and reminded him how he had served him with all his heart. At that point God sent Isaiah the prophet back to tell him that he would heal him and add 15 years to his life. He had a boil and he was given a cake of figs to recover from the boil (2 Kings 20:2-11). When I was a young boy I had a boil and my mom tried everything to clear it up, but nothing worked. Then she told me that I must go to the doctor and have it lanced. That scared me to death. It was not pleasant having that done, but once it was done it healed rather quickly. I have never had one sense and I do not want one in the future. I am sure Hezekiah felt the same way that I did.
God told Hezekiah that he would add 15 years to his life. And that meant that he would set the sundial back 10 places. Scientists have set their computers to go back and see if there was a long day at the time that Hezekiah lived. I do not think that they have been successful. But we believe the Bible that God did what he said he was going to do and Hezekiah lived 15 more years. But eventually like all of us, Hezekiah slept with his fathers and his son Manasseh became king (2 Kings 20:21). Manasseh and his son Amon, “did evil in the sight of the word and they died.” Manasseh repented at the last minute and did what he could to restore the true worship of God. But it was too little too late and did not make a lasting impact the people. His son Amon went right back into idolatry and was such a bad king that his own officials conspired against him and assassinated him in the palace and he only reigned as king for two years (2 Kings 21:24).
JOSIAH, THE BOY KING
Let us look at the character of Josiah. Josiah, the son of Amon, was only eight years old when he became king and he reigned 31 years in Jerusalem (2 Kings 22:1-2). Josiah was the last good godly king in the history of Judah (2 Kings 22:1-20). Josiah did not follow his father Amon or his grandfather Manasseh, but he followed his father David, the second king of Israel. His kingship is described in this manner,
“And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, and walked in all the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2).
Over the many years the house of the Lord had fallen into disrepair and it needed a lot of work to be done. While he was very young, Josiah went to work to repair the house of the Lord. Josiah sent Shaphan the scribe, to the house of the Lord to collect the money contributed by the people to give to the builders and masons to repair the house of the Lord:
Now it came to pass, in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, the king sent Shaphan the scribe, the son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the house of the Lord, saying: 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest, that he may count the money which has been brought into the house of the Lord, which the doorkeepers have gathered from the people. 5 And let them deliver it into the hand of those doing the work, who are the overseers in the house of the Lord; let them give it to those who are in the house of the Lord doing the work, to repair the damages of the house— 6 to carpenters and builders and masons—and to buy timber and hewn stone to repair the house. 7 However there need be no accounting made with them of the money delivered into their hand, because they deal faithfully” (2 Kings 22:3-7 NKJV).
All material buildings deteriorate over time and they constantly need to be repaired and updated. Those of you that own your house know that they do not stay new very long. That is part of the joy of being a homeowner—you will need to make some repairs quite often. And so it was with the house of the Lord. It seems there was a lot of work that needed to be done and it was going to cost quite a bit of money in order to carry out the repairs. Thankfully, the people had donated the money to carry out this repair. The workers were honest and faithful and Josiah said there was no need for any accounting of the funds.
THE WORD OF THE LORD IS FOUND IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD
But Shaphan the scribe was in for a really good surprise when he had carried out his work. Because Hilkiah the high priest came up to him and gave him a book that he had found in the house of the Lord. This is exactly what Hilkiah the high priest said to Shapan the scribe:
“I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord” (2 Kings 22:8).
And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. It is amazing to me that Hilkiah the high priest, who was in charge of the house of the Lord had somehow not been able to find the book of the law. Evidently, there was so much false religion being practiced by idolatry and immorality, that nobody was paying any attention to the teaching of the word of God any longer. It had been laid aside and nobody was consulting it any longer. Most scholars believe that the book of the law that they found in the house of the Lord was the book of Deuteronomy. The book of Deuteronomy is the second giving of the law by Moses before he died and was not able to go into the land of Canaan—the land that flowed with milk and honey. Moses had given the book of the law in the book of Exodus chapter 20, but he also gave a second presentation of the law before the children of Israel entered the Promised Land. The book of the law outlined the blessings that God would give his people when they obeyed him and the curses and punishment he would give them if they disobeyed his law. So the book of Deuteronomy is probably the book that Hezekiah the high priest found in the house of the Lord. And the record does not tell us how long it had been lost—probably for quite a while! And when Shaphan the scribe read it, he knew they were in big trouble and that the king needed to hear what this book said.
Then Shaphan showed King Josiah the book which Hilkiah the high priest had given him and he read it before the king (2 Kings 2:10). “Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, that he tore his clothes” (2 Kings 22:11). When King Josiah heard the words of the book of the law he knew that Judah and Jerusalem were in big trouble. He heard the blessings and curses that would come upon them depending on how they reacted to the word of God. And since the word of God had been lost in the house of the Lord, no one including the king were aware of what was going to happen to them, but now they have no excuse. King Josiah sent Shaphan and several of the leaders to go and inquire of the Lord what they should do!
“Go, inquire of the Lord for me, for the people and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found; for great is the wrath of the Lord that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us” (2 Kings 22:13).
Why did they need to inquire of the Lord? Because the king knew that the people had not been living by the law. He also knew that the people had not read the law, including Hilkiah the high priest and king Josiah himself. As a result of not hearing the law the people had fallen into apostasy because of ignorance. And above all the king realized that the wrath of God was going to fall upon them because of their sin and rebellion. So the king sent certain people to inquire of the Lord what they should do.
THE MESSAGE OF HULDAH THE PROPHETESS
Therefore, the king sent Hilkiah the high priest and other leaders to go and seek out the message of the Lord from Huldah the prophetess. And they spoke with her and related the story of finding the book of the law in the house of the Lord. After listening to their request, Huldah had a message to Judah and Jerusalem that was simple and very direct:
Then she said to them, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Tell the man who sent you to Me, 16 “Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants—all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read— 17 because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath shall be aroused against this place and shall not be quenched’ ” (2 Kings 22:15-17).
So basically her message was simply because the people had practiced idolatry and burned incense to false gods, they had provoked the Almighty God to anger and his wrath against them would not be quenched. It is not a good thing when people arouse the God of heaven and earth to anger and wrath. Because of this very thing God had brought the flood upon the whole earth in the days of Noah and he will bring fire upon those who rebel and disobey in the last days.
And then finally, Huldah had a special message to King Josiah:
But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, in this manner you shall speak to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel: “Concerning the words which you have heard— 19 because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they would become a desolation and a curse, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you,” says the Lord. 20 “Surely, therefore, I will [a]gather you to your fathers, and you shall [b]be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place” ’ ” So they brought back word to the king (2 Kings 22:18-20).
Basically, God’s message to Josiah the king was that since he was very humble and even as a very young boy he was interested in doing the right thing in serving God, and because he was concerned when he heard the reading of the book of the law, he would be gathered to his grave in peace and would not see all the calamity that God would bring upon Judah and the city of Jerusalem. This demonstrates that even in the worst of times it pays to love the Lord and to serve Him with all of our hearts. Now let us transition back 300 years to see how all this rebellion got started!
THE DIVISION SOWN BY JEROBOAM I AND THE APOSTASY THAT FOLLOWED!
Let me rehearse the history of the kingdom of Israel. From the time that God brought Israel out of Egypt and led them toward the Promised Land, God himself had been their king. He blessed them and provided everything they needed, even though they were complaining against him all the time. But after they entered the land of Canaan they decided that they wanted an earthly king like all the other nations around them. God even told them ahead of time what would happen when they had an earthly king. But they paid no attention to Him and demanded that he give them a king. And so God relented and gave them King Saul as their first king over Israel. He reigned for 40 years and then God raised up David a man after his own heart. David was a good king and he reigned for 40 years also. When David died his son Solomon became the third king of Israel. Since he did not ask for riches or a long life, God gave him great wisdom and riches as well! When other kings and queens would visit Solomon they were amazed and the Queen of Sheba said “the half has not been told” of the glory of the kingdom of Solomon. Solomon also reigned for 40 years! This is the period of the United Kingdom that lasted for 120 years.
But upon the death of Solomon, his son Rehoboam was a foolish young man who became the next king of Israel. It is amazing that the wisest man who ever lived had a son which was one of the most foolish of sons that ever lived. Solomon had heavily taxed the people so he could build a magnificent House of the Lord in Jerusalem! He also built his own house in great splendor and magnificence. The people were ready to rebel against the heavy taxation of Solomon. They told his son Rehoboam if he would lighten the load they would love and serve him forever more. But he listened to the foolish advisors that he had grown up with and they encouraged him to lay even heavier taxation on the people. When they heard this they rebelled and we have the kingdom of Israel being divided into the northern kingdom reigning in Samaria and the southern kingdom reigning in Jerusalem.
This division came about when a young prince by the name of Jeroboam I changed the worship from what God had commanded in the book of the law. Jeroboam changed the worship of Almighty God. He changed the place of worship from Jerusalem to Bethel and Dan, places way up in the north of the land of Canaan. He also changed the object of worship from God to the two golden calves that he set up at Bethel and Dan. This became a sin to Israel: “Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan” (1 Kings 12:30). In the third place he changed the priesthood of worship from the tribe of Levi to every class of people who were not of Levi (1 Kings 12:31). And in the fourth place he changed the day of the feast of worship at Jerusalem to one month later—the 15th day of the 8th month. And the Bible says, “a month he had devised in his own heart” (1 Kings 12:32-33).
A PROPHECY PREDICTED 300 YEARS BEFORE IT WAS FULFILLED
A very interesting thing happened to Jeroboam 1 when he was offering up a sacrifice on an altar up at Bethel:
And behold, a man of God went from Judah to Bethel by the word of the Lord, and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. 2 Then he cried out against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, “O altar, altar! Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and men’s bones shall be burned on you.’ ” 3 And he gave a sign the same day, saying, “This is the sign which the Lord has spoken: Surely the altar shall split apart, and the ashes on it shall be poured out” (1 Kings 13:1-3 NKJV).
And this is what is so amazing about the Bible. This prophecy was fulfilled 300 years later by King Josiah. But how do we know that? We know that because we have a parallel account of the activities of Josiah, the boy king, in 2 Chronicles:
For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. 4 They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down; and the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images he broke in pieces, and made dust of them and scattered it on the graves of those who had sacrificed to them. 5 He also burned the bones of the priests on their altars, and cleansed Judah and Jerusalem. 6 And so he did in the cities of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon, as far as Naphtali and all around, with axes. 7 When he had broken down the altars and the wooden images, had beaten the carved images into powder, and cut down all the incense altars throughout all the land of Israel, he returned to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 34:3-7).
When Josiah the king heard the words read from the book of the law that was found in the house of the Lord, he very quickly determined in his heart that he was going to do something about it. But the amazing thing is he fulfilled the prophecy that even mentioned his name 300 years previously, when it said that he would burn the bones of the priests on their altars and cleanse Judah and Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 34:5). God Almighty knew Josiah’s name 300 years before he was born and he knew the work that he would do to restore the true worship to the kingdom of Judah if he possibly could.
Is your Bible lost? Is your Bible lost because you are not opening it up and reading it and studying it to find out what your responsibility is before the Almighty? We all need to read the Bible every day and trust and obey because we will be judged by it. May God bless you and may we continue to learn everything we can about God’s will for us today as Christian people! *
*Copyright © 2021 Shelby G. Floyd, All Rights Reserved
Shelby G. Floyd delivered the essence of this sermon August 22, 2021, at the Heartland Church of Christ, 1693 West Main Street, Greenwood, Indiana 46142