Sunday, February 26, 2017

[Matt's Messages] “I Have Found the Book of the Law”

“I Have Found the Book of the Law”
The King of Kings in the Books of Kings
February 26, 2017 :: 2 Kings 21:1-23:30  

It seems to me that unless there is a big surprise that I don’t know about, next week will be our last Sunday in the Books of Kings. This is our 29th message in this series tracking through the Books of the Kings of Israel and Judah and next week, Lord-willing, will be our 30th and last.

We’ve been calling the series, “The King of Kings in the Books of Kings” because even as we’ve learned a lot about Old Testament history, we’ve learned even more about our unchanging God.

The kings go up and down. They are good and bad. They are thumbs up and thumbs down. But our God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

And His fingerprints are all over this book.

His heart is all over this book.

We’ve learned that when the kings are at their best, they remind us of King Jesus.

And when the kings are at their worst, they remind us why we need King Jesus.

Today, we’re going to see both kinds of kings ruling in Judah. Both thumbs up and thumbs down, hopefully, they both lead us to know our unchanging King better.

In 2 Kings chapter 21, our focus is on the king of the southern kingdom of Judah.

Who is the corresponding king in the north, in Israel?

There is no king in Israel. Because there is no Israel! They have been taken away into exile. It’s the saddest thing.

That’s one of the most striking things about verse 1. There is no mention of the other kingdom as this new king begins his reign. All of the other kings had that. But there is no king in the north when Manasseh begins his reign.

The son of godly Hezekiah (that learned about last week). 2 Kings chapter 21, verse 1.

“Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother's name was Hephzibah.”

Thumbs-up or thumbs-down?

Two thumbs down.

Nothing like his daddy. V.2

“He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed [get that?!; he also erected altars to Baal [Baal again? And in the South?!] and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done [Manassah is the Ahab of the South]. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them.

He built altars in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, ‘In Jerusalem I will put my Name.’ In both courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts.

He sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger.

He took the carved Asherah pole he had made and put it in the temple, of which the LORD had said to David and to his son Solomon, ‘In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. [In the temple!] I will not again make the feet of the Israelites wander from the land I gave their forefathers, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them and will keep the whole Law that my servant Moses gave them.’

[I almost titled this message, “if only.”]

But the people did not listen. Manasseh led them astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites [the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perrizites, all of those “bad-ites.”.

The LORD said through his servants the prophets: ‘Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols.

Therefore this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.”

We’ve reached the beginning of the end for the Southern Kingdom.

Hezekiah had been mostly good. At least one and three quarters thumbs up, but his son Manasseh (a descendent of David) took the kingdom down. And made it like Israel had been. And, in some ways, even worse.

And so God announces through the prophets that Judah will face judgment.

“The ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle.” v.13

“I will stretch out over Jerusalem the measuring line used against Samaria and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab. [They were measured and found wanting. And I’m going to use the same standard with the South.] I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down [and shaking the contents into the compost pile].

I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and hand them over to their enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their foes, because they have done evil in my eyes and have provoked me to anger from the day their forefathers came out of Egypt until this day.’

[This has been coming for a long time. God has been soooooo patient. Soooo longsuffering. But it’s been coming. Inevitably coming.]

Moreover, Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end–besides the sin that he had caused Judah to commit, so that they did evil in the eyes of the LORD.

As for the other events of Manasseh's reign, and all he did, including the sin he committed [you can’t tell his story without it], are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? Manasseh rested with his fathers and was buried in his palace garden, the garden of Uzza. And Amon his son succeeded him as king.”

It’s interesting to find out in the book of 2 Chronicles (chp. 33) that Manasseh actually repented and changed in his later years. And if you study it, you find out more about God’s grace.

But the national damage was already done. The author of Kings wants us to know that Judah’s judgment is coming. It is right and just because of their wickedness and it is certainly on the way.

What has happened to Israel is now bound to happen to Judah.

How long did Manasseh reign?

55 years! That’s the longest of any of these reigns.

And maybe the worst. Certainly the worst in the south.

55 years of that kind of unfaithfulness, of forsaking the Lord, must be answered.

Manasseh’s son takes over when he dies. Unfortunately, he is a chip off the old block. V.19

“Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. His mother's name was Meshullemeth daughter of Haruz; she was from Jotbah. [Two thumbs down.] He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, as his father Manasseh had done. He walked in all the ways of his father; he worshiped the idols his father had worshiped, and bowed down to them.

He forsook the LORD, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD.  Amon's officials conspired against him and assassinated the king in his palace. Then the people of the land killed all who had plotted against King Amon, and they made Josiah his son king in his place. As for the other events of Amon's reign, and what he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? He was buried in his grave in the garden of Uzza. And Josiah his son succeeded him as king.”

I always think, what would it be like to become the king knowing that your father had been so wicked?  Amon probably wasn’t the oldest son. His older brother was probably sacrificed by his dad. He gets the job after his dad reigns for 55 years.

And he dies after just two.

And his eight year old son gets the job from there. Chapter 22, verse 1.

“Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother's name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath.

[Thumbs up or thumbs down?]

He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

[Two thumbs up! And it was during his reign that they had a biblical revival. V.3]

In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the LORD. He said: ‘Go up to Hilkiah the high priest and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the LORD, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people.

Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the LORD–the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are acting faithfully.’”

You get the picture?

Josiah wants to be a faithful king. 2 Chronicles makes it clear that he starts out making reforms earlier than this. And one of the things he wants is a restored temple.

So he’s taken a collection and he’s sending money to the faithful contractors who are repairing and restoring things at the temple where his grandpa Manasseh had installed wickedness.

And then something really big happens! V.8

“Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.’”

In case you’re wondering, that’s the title of today’s message: “I Have Found the Book of the Law.”

Most evangelical scholars believe that this was the book of Deuteronomy.

At least a piece of Deuteronomy and maybe the whole Torah. We don’t know.

But Hilkiah, the high priest, has uncovered the Book of the Law. A portion of Holy Scripture.

Where has it been?

It’s been in the temple, but it’s been hidden. It’s been lost. It’s been buried.

For how long?

We don’t know. I’d say that it’s good guess that 57 years, at least, have gone by, without referencing it very much.

Amon ruled 2 years. Manasseh ruled 55.

That’s a long time to go without reading your Bible!

I just can’t imagine.

“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.”

Now what? Time to take it to the king. V.9

“Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: ‘Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.’ [Just like you said.] Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ [That’s an understatement!]  And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.

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. Great is the LORD's anger that burns against us because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.’”

Do you see what a turning point this is?

Do you feel the urgency that the king feels?

What has he read?

He’s read what the king was supposed to do.
He’s read what the kingdom was supposed to be like.
He’s read about the promises of God.
He’s read about the threats of God.

Do you remember the first time you heard the Word of the Lord?
Do you remember the first time that the Word of the Lord broke in on your conscience?

That you felt it like a fire?

I probably don’t. I grew up in church and regularly heard the word of the Lord.

I can’t imagine 55 years without the Bible!
I can’t imagine a few days without the Bible!

But I can remember times when the Word of Lord became real and strong and fresh to me.

One time when I was a kid, I remember a message given by an evangelist named Earl Bailey, and I felt the sinfulness of sin.

I didn’t tear my robes, but almost.

And there have been many other times when God met me in the Word.

How about you?

King Josiah sent a delegation to the nearest prophetess to find out more of what this means.

He understands better than ever before that Judah and Jerusalem are in trouble. How bad is it going to be? V.14

“Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophetess Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the Second District.”

By the way, she’s probably the aunt of the prophet Jeremiah who had just begun his ministry. This is also the time period for Nahum and Habbakuk and Zephaniah.

But it’s Huldah who gives the word. V.15

“She said to them, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 'This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and provoked me to anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.'

Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, 'This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive [soft] and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people, that they would become accursed and laid waste, and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the LORD. Therefore I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be buried in peace [before this trouble]. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.'’ So they took her answer back to the king.”

It’s going to be bad.

Judah and Jerusalem have incurred the wrath of God and are going to suffer disaster.

It will happen. It is certain and sure.

Josiah will not see it because he’s two thumbs up. His heart was soft and responsive, and he humbled himself. But the nation will not escape.

I’ve got three points for you this morning, and they are all about how we relate to the Word of God. Three applications about the Book.


That’s what Manasseh and Amon failed to do.

And what Hilkiah, Shaphan, and Josiah did so well.

And they didn’t just read it to get the information. They read it with hearts ready to receive the Word of the Lord. That verse 19 says it all.

“Your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD....”

Is that how you and I come to this Word?

Isaiah 66:2 is our next hide the word verse. It says, “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.”

Do you want the esteem of the Lord. The “attaboy,” the “good job?”

Then humble yourself, repent, and tremble at His word.

Read it.

That’s what Josiah does to the whole nation. He gathers everybody together (in chapter 23) and reads the whole thing to them.  Chapter 23, verse 1.

“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.

[Can you imagine? 57 years with nothing like it. Really, very few things like it since King David and King Solomon’s early years.]

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.”

Read the book.

Do you own a Bible in a readable version in your language?

Do you know where it is?

Do you have a plan to read it today and tomorrow and the next day?

This is the Word of Lord!

Don’t let familiarity with it breed contempt.

Don’t start tomorrow. Start now.

Read it.

There’s lots of ways to get into the Book. It doesn’t have to be a Bible reading plan, like we’ve got back there. Though those are great!

And you don’t have to read the plan all at once. I like to read the One Year Bible every year.

But Heather just takes one of those reading plans and reads a little bit each day. And every few years, she grabs another one.

There isn’t a wrong way to do it. But there are lots of wrong ways to NOT to do it.

Do it. Read the book.

And don’t just read it. Do what it says.


Did you see what Josiah said he was going to do? V.3

“To follow the LORD and keep His commands, regulations, and decrees with all his heart and all his soul.”

That’s obedience.

That’s not just lip service. That’s not just talking the talk, it’s the walking the walk.

It’s not just being a hearer of the word only but a do-er of the word.

Heed the book.

And that’s exactly what Josiah did. V.4

“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. He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes, which were in the temple of the LORD and where women did weaving for Asherah.

Josiah brought all the priests from the towns of Judah and desecrated the high places, from Geba to Beersheba, where the priests had burned incense. He broke down the shrines at the gates–at the entrance to the Gate of Joshua, the city governor, which is on the left of the city gate.

Although the priests of the high places did not serve at the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, they ate unleavened bread with their fellow priests. He desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice his son or daughter in the fire to Molech.

He removed from the entrance to the temple of the LORD the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were in the court near the room of an official named Nathan-Melech. Josiah then burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.

He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had erected on the roof near the upper room of Ahaz, and the altars Manasseh had built in the two courts of the temple of the LORD. He removed them from there, smashed them to pieces and threw the rubble into the Kidron Valley.

The king also desecrated the high places that were east of Jerusalem on the south of the Hill of Corruption [like poisoning the well so it couldn’t be used again]–the ones Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the vile goddess of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the vile god of Moab, and for Molech the detestable god of the people of Ammon.

[Can you believe they’ve been there that long?!]

Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles and covered the sites with human bones. Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin–even that altar and high place he demolished. [He’s headed north into what had been the northern kingdom] He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also.

Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things.

[Do you remember that story? It was message #8 in this series!]

The king asked, ‘What is that tombstone I see?’ The men of the city said, ‘It marks the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and pronounced against the altar of Bethel the very things you have done to it.’ [1 Kings chapter 13! 300 years ago!]

‘Leave it alone,’ he said. ‘Don't let anyone disturb his bones.’ So they spared his bones and those of the prophet who had come from Samaria.

[The Word of the LORD has come true 300 years later. Just as God had said. V.19]

Just as he had done at Bethel, Josiah removed and defiled all the shrines at the high places that the kings of Israel had built in the towns of Samaria that had provoked the LORD to anger [in the north!].

Josiah slaughtered all the priests of those high places on the altars and burned human bones on them. Then he went back to Jerusalem.”

That’s what it means to heed the book.

It means to take God’s Word seriously and to seriously obey it.

Now, there’s a part of me that thinks that all of this should have been a no-brainer to King Josiah. You shouldn’t need to rediscover the Book of Law to know that these idols all need smashed. Duh!

But obviously he did need it.

It was when he was directly confronted by the Word of God that Josiah got serious about obedience.

And I wonder....what in my life would be obvious to Josiah? What would he say, “That’s a no-brainer, Matt. That needs to go. Now!”

What about you?

In what areas are you failing to obey the Word of God?

You probably aren’t living like Manasseh. You wouldn’t want to be here on a Sunday if you were.

But Josiah had been trying to clean up his act and his nation.

And he’s just now getting to smashing the idols.

Some of those idols have been sitting there unnoticed and tolerated for a very long time. Over 300 years for some of them.

What sins are you letting sit around unnoticed and tolerated in your own life that need to get smashed?

What is the Book saying to you?

Heed it.

Josiah was reading his Bible and realizing what they should have been doing all along. V.21

“The king gave this order to all the people: ‘Celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.’ Not since the days of the judges who led Israel, nor throughout the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah, had any such Passover been observed. [Biggest in a long time.] But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the LORD in Jerusalem.

Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the LORD.”

What did the Passover celebrate?

The salvation of God’s people.

Their rescue from the bondage of Egypt.

And their being passed over by the angel of death because of the blood on the doorposts.

And for Christians, every time we think about the Passover, we’re always reminded of our even greater Rescue!

Our salvation because of Jesus’ blood shed on the Cross. The perfect Lamb without spot or blemish.

We need reminded because we have failed to keep the Law ourselves and we need forgiveness. We need rescue. We need salvation.

Remember, we can’t get to God on our own.

We can’t get there by obeying the Word. By heeding the Word.

We are too far gone for that.

But we can heed the word by believing the gospel of grace.

Don’t get me wrong today. Don’t walk away today thinking that what God expects from you is to earn His favor by obeying His Word.

The Passover reminded the Israelites that God had saved them.

The Cross reminds us that God has saved us by grace through faith, not from ourselves, not by our works, BUT FOR good works.

So that now by faith we can begin heed the Book.

And even....


And by that, I don’t mean literally. I mean so live out what we are reading here that it just comes out of us naturally.

Do you know what I mean? Like verse 25.

“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did–with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.”

This guy was the real deal.

There had been great kings before, but not a king that was as Word-Centered as Josiah.

He was the King most characterized by the Bible.

Do you know who John Bunyan is?  Not Paul Bunyan, but John Bunyan.

What book did John Bunyan write?

The Pilgrim’s Progress.

I think that that is still the number one best-selling book after the Bible of all time.

Pastor Charles Spurgeon said of John Bunyan:

“Prick him anywhere; and you will find that his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his soul is full of the Word of God.”

We need to be so full of the Bible that it comes out of us all of the time!

My prayer is our blood at Lanse Free Church would be “Bibline.”

And that if anyone pricks us, that the Word of God would come out of us. If anyone even gets around us, that the Word of God would come out of us.  That we would “bleed the book.”

That we would be Josiah-type Christians.

Obeying the Word with all of our heart and with all of our soul and with all of our strength. Holding nothing back.

Is that your prayer with me? I hope so.

The sad thing is that it was too late for Judah.

It was not enough.

Josiah knew that already.

He was told by Huldah that it was coming and for sure.

And he still led the nation to read the book, heed the book, and bleed the book.


Because it was the right thing to do!

We don’t read, heed, and bleed just to stay out of discipline!

We don’t obey just to keep from getting swatted.

We obey because God has saved us. Because God is our Father. Because Christ is our Savior. Because the Spirit lives within us.

Because it’s the right thing to do!

Even if it’s not enough to save the nation from judgment.

And it wasn’t.

God is merciful to Josiah and it doesn’t happen during his lifetime, but it was still coming. V.26

“Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to provoke him to anger. [Manasseh was the tipping point, the point of no return.] So the LORD said, ‘I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, 'There shall my Name be.'’

As for the other events of Josiah's reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Neco faced him and killed him at Megiddo. Josiah's servants brought his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king in place of his father.”

You can see how the LORD feels about this judgment. It wasn’t Plan A.

It wasn’t what He wanted in His revealed will.

He chose this city. Now He’s going to reject it.

He put His name on this people. Now, He’s going to remove it.

It won’t be long until they go into exile.

Remember, the Books of Kings are a tragedy.

It doesn’t end well.

There are high points in the story, for sure.

King Josiah is a particularly high point.

Because they recovered the Book of the Law. They read it. They obeyed it. They didn’t turn from it to the right or the left under Josiah leadership.

What a good picture of Jesus Josiah was in that respect!

“With all of his heart, with all of his soul and with all of his strength.”

But bigger story running is that God always keeps His promises, including His threats, and the Manassehs and the Amons and all of the nation’s idolatries are catching up with them now.

The good news is that next week’s chapters while being the end of the Books of Kings are not the end of the story.

Because this story points to the Bigger Story of God’s forever King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

And let me tell you a secret. I’ve read the end of the book, and King Jesus wins.


Messages in this Series:

01. Who Will Be King?
02. The Wisdom of the King
03. The Temple of the King
04. The Incomparable King of the Temple
05. A Breathtaking King
06. The Turned King and the Torn Kingdom
07. The Two Kings and the Tearing of the Kingdom
08. The Word of the LORD
09. In the Eyes of the LORD
10. The LORD Lives
11. The LORD Is God!
12. The LORD Is Still God.
13. “You Will Know that I am the LORD”
14. "Thus Saith the LORD!"
15. What the LORD Says
16. Is There No God in Israel?
17. Where Is the God of Elijah?
18. How NOT To Relate to God
19. God of Wonders
20. No God in the All the World Except in Israel
21. LORD, Open Our Eyes!
22. "If the LORD Should Open the Floodgates of Heaven"
23. "I Will Avenge the Blood of My Servants"
24. "Long Live the King!"
25. God Is Good Even When the King Is Bad
26. “Good Kings, Bad Kings, Good Things, Bad Things”
27. The Last King of Israel
28. "You Alone, O LORD, Are God"