Finding the Book Again
Biblical Reformation Leads to Revival
2 Kings 22: 8, 11 NIV
Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes
A Skillful Craftsman
The call for workers went out across the land from young King Josiah himself. The Temple was in need of repair. Skilled carpenters and stone masons answered the call as did their young apprentices and their unskilled day laborers. No one knows whether it was a master craftsman, a trainee, or just an ordinary guy, but somebody found the lost Books of the Law somewhere in the neglected and abused House of God. Imagine the excitement as news of the discovery worked its way up the chain of command:
- From an excited worker vaguely sensing the importance of the dusty scrolls
- to a skilled craftsman recognizing the quality of the workmanship of the manuscripts in the trembling hands of his helper,
- to a priest, then to the high priest,
- then to the secretary of state and finally,
- to the king himself.
They Found the Book and They Read It.
When the book was read in the presence of the king, he tore his robes. He realized that more repair was needed than crumbling plaster, cracked walls, or leaking ceilings. The worship life of the people was in dire need of repair, reform, and restoration.
This King Josiah who tore his robes was twenty six years old. He had taken the throne when he was only eight, before he had learned the wicked ways of his fathers. Perhaps his mother is given special mention in the Bible because she instilled in the boy a different spirit than the spirit of his age. It may be that at her hand the boy had seen glimpses of principles brighter than the darkness of the rule of raw power. Maybe he had even known the sweetness of the presence of the Lord in his mother’s touch.
At the age of sixteen he began to seek the God of his father David. At age twenty he began his campaign to purify the nation of the heinous idolatry that gripped the people of God. When the Book of the Law was found and read to him he commanded that it be read throughout the land and reforms, based on demands of Scripture, marked his reign. He conducted a worship reformation unparalleled in the history of Israel and Judah.
Constant Worship Reform
I harbor no pretense of royalty—I’m no king; I’m just a worship leader, but I do, however, identify with young Josiah.
- I came to know Jesus when I was a child, in my mother’s Sunday school class. I learned to sing songs like Jesus Loves Me This I Know.
- I remember a picture on the wall of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, carrying a poor injured lamb on his broad shoulders. I sensed the very presence of the Good Shepherd in that little Sunday school room as my Mother’s sweet alto voice led us in song.
- We were singing, Oh, How I Love Jesus and I knew somehow that I was that little injured lamb and that Jesus had me in His strong arms.
As a doubting teen I tested but could not dismiss what I had seen and heard, and as an adult, these simple truths have been my compass as the winds of fads and traditions have challenged my ministry.
- I want to lead people to know the love of Jesus because the Bible is true and speaks to them.
- I want to help them love Jesus because he first loved them.
- I want them to realize that no matter how severe their injury, His broad shoulders are safe.
And, I am a reformer.
The worship conditions handed to young King Josiah were far worse than any I have seen. The account of his reforms in 2 Kings 23 paints the lurid picture of the worship handed down to him by his fathers.
- The Temple of Jehovah was host to the worship of Baal and Asherah, male and female deities of the Canaanites.
- Male prostitutes were housed in the Temple area and
- skillful women wove garments to use in the worship of “Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts.” (2 Kings 23:4)
- The countryside and villages had also fallen to unimaginable paganism.
High places, shrines and altars marred the land, but Josiah destroyed them and the unholy priests who manned them.
I doubt things are that bad at your church; I know they aren’t at mine! But a worship leader is a reformer wherever he or she is serving.
Semper Reformanda—Always Reforming
One of the principles of the Reformation is Semper Reformanda, or “always reforming.” We must be vigilant to see that the Book of God doesn’t get lost in the House of God. We are the carpenters, stone masons, apprentices and laborers who have answered the call to restore the House of God, the New Testament Temple, the Church, the “Habitation of God by His Spirit.” (Eph 2:19-22)
- Are we more skilled in our traditions than in the ways of the Book?
- Has the Book been lost in our house?
As Reformers we must constantly seek the face of God, the will of God, the plan of God so that the worship we lead will be an encounter with God. God’s face, His will, and His plan are found in His Book.
Should we settle for a version of Christian worship that doesn’t read like the Book?
- Where are the miracles, signs and wonders?
- Where is the community of the Redeemed?
- Where is the Kingdom of God come to earth?
- Where is the form of godliness that throbs with the Power of God?
- Where is the conviction of the Holy Spirit that grips the souls of sinners?
- Where is the River of Life that flows from the Throne of God to the healing of the nations?
Have we lost the Book of God in the House of God?
- Are we still a holy counter-culture, loving the lost with selfless love, while calling the nation to repentance and the church to holiness?
- Can the Book be found on the pulpit or have other books shunted it aside?
- Do we sing the Book or do we sing sentimental, nostalgic artifacts or transient, trivial, narcissistic anthems to ourselves?
We are workmen who have been called by the King. Let us put on our work clothes.
- Let us find our work gloves and our tools.
- Let us search the Temple for the Book.
- Like the King, let us tear our robes in sorrow and repentance as the words of the Book stream over us in a healing stream. These lovely robes won’t save us. They won’t win us a visitation from the King.
Only the words of the Book will speak peace to us with a voice as tender as my mother’s voice, “Oh, how I love Jesus, because He first loved me.”
© 2016 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved