“I Have Found the Book!”
A Study of 2 Chronicles 33 – 35
I want to tell you the story of a great leader, a man whose example can change our lives. He was one of the greatest leaders of history, though you may not even know his name.
- It isn’t Alexander the Great, who conquered the world and died at age 32.
- It isn’t Napoleon Bonaparte, who tried to conquer the world and died in exile.
- It isn’t George Washington, who was a Christian and the father of our country.
- It wasn’t Abraham Lincoln, who most likely became a Christian before his death.
This is the story of the biblical king Josiah, whose story is told in 2 Chronicles 33 – 35.
Notice the way chapter 33 begins: Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord….
This chapter tells us about King Manasseh of Judah, who was the Adolf Hitler of his day, diabolical, savage, ruthless and brutal—evil in every way. I don’t have time to describe the terrible atrocities he committed, but here’s the interesting thing. He was invaded and captured by the Assyrians.
Look what happened to him. In his distress (Manasseh) sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his ancestors. And when he prayed to him, the Lord was moved by his entreaty and listened to his plea; so he brought he back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord is God.
In the Old Testament there is one man we never would have expected to come to faith in God—Manasseh. In the New Testament there is one man we would never have expected to come to God—Saul of Tarsus who became the apostle Paul. We have these two great examples in the Bible to tell us that no one is beyond the power of the grace of God. If you’re worried about someone, don’t give up on them. Keep praying. The Lord is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or imagine. The worst of sinners can become the greatest of testimonies.
After Manasseh came to faith in God, he had six years with his grandson, who was named Josiah. I can’t prove it from the text, but I can infer that Manasseh poured his newfound faith into his grandson. Don’t ever underestimate the power of a grandparents faith. How many people are servants of God today because of the influence or prayers of a grandmother or grandfather.
Manasseh died, his son became king but was shortly assassinated, and little Josiah, who was only eight, rose to the throne of Judah. He obviously had a regent or prime minister who exercised power. But the text focuses on Josiah. Look at chapter 34:
Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed the ways of his father, David, not turning aside to the right or to the left. In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David.
He was sixteen. As he began to assume real power, he decided to do it as a spiritual man. Where did he get that impulse? There’s only one place I can think of—from his grandfather, who must have told him, “One day you will the king of this land. Don’t do what I did or make the mistakes I made. From your first day on the throne, serve the Lord Jehovah-Yahweh.”
People often ask me if there will be another revival in American history, and I believe it could happen with young people, as it often does.
Look what happened when Josiah was twenty-four. Look at verse 3: In his twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of high places, Asherah poles and idols. Under his direction all the altars of the Baals were torn down; he cut to pieces the incense altars that were above them, and smashed the Asherah poles and the idols….
It’s very interesting how the writer points out Josiah’s age at every point. Look at verse 8: In the eighteen year of Josiah’s reign, to purify the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan son of Azaliah and Maaseiah the ruler of the city, with Joah son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the temple of the Lord his God.
On the acropolis above Jerusalem, Solomon had built the great temple of Jehovah, and there God’s presence dwelt in the Most Holy Place. But during the half-century reign of Manasseh, the site had been desecrated. King Manasseh had promoted satanic worship, child sacrifice, and he had built some kind of demonic image and placed it in the temple. According to biblical prophecy this is what the antichrist will do during the Tribulation. Manasseh apparently moved out the Ark of the Covenant and put in a demonic statue. The entire complex fell into deterioration and dilapidation.
It’s easy for the work of the Lord to deteriorate and become dilapidated in a church or in a nation, but the right person can come in the power of the Holy Spirit and change things. Look at verse 9: They went to Hilkiah the high priest and gave him the money that had been brought into the temple of God, which the Levites who were the gatekeepers had collected from the people of Manasseh, Ephraim and the entire remnant of Israel and from all the people of Judah and Benjamin and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Then they entrusted it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the Lord’s temple. These men paid the workers who repaired and restored the temple. They also gave money to the carpenters and builders to purchase dressed stone, and timber for joists and beams for the buildings that the kings of Judah had allowed to fall into ruin….
The same thing is happening right now at Notre Dame in Paris. As you know, it nearly burned down and restoration experts have launched a long term renovation process. Now suppose as the workers in Paris were exploring all the areas beneath and above the destruction, they made a great archaeological discovery?
Well, that’s what happened in this chapter. Look at verse 14: While they were bringing out the money that had been taken into the temple of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses. Hilkiah said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan.
Biblical scholars are uncertain about the exact nature of this book, but I have a theory. I believe this might have been the original copy of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch or the Torah or sometimes just as the Law. These books had been written by Moses during the forty years of wandering in the desert. He probably wrote it on animal skins or possibly papyrus, using a homemade ink.
That original copy would be call the original autograph and it must have been carefully preserved. Copies of it had been made, of course, but they were few and far between because of Manasseh’s reign of terror. I’m sure Manasseh had sought to destroy every copy of the Word of God. But some brave priest had hidden the original copy in some ingenious place within the temple. I suspect this is what the builders found.
Look at verse 16: Then Shaphan took the book to the king and reported to him: “Your officials are doing everything that has been committed to them. They have paid out the money that was in the temple of the Lord and have entrusted it to the supervisors and workers.” Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it in the presence of the king. When the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his robes.
He broke out weeping and sobbing. To see those precious scrolls, to hear the words, and realize how far his nation had sunk, to realize the judgment they were facing—it broke the king’s heart and he tore his robes and cried a baby for the sins of his people.
He gave orders to his aids: “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that is poured out on us because those who have gone before us have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.”
Hilkiah and those the king had sent with him went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem in the New Quarter.
In the Bible, there were times when great women of God played a critical role, and here was the wife of the man who kept the wardrobe, either kept the royal wardrobe for the king or the temple wardrobe for the priests. This woman had a special relationship with God. Look at verse 26:
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 and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. Now I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place on those who live here.’”
So they took her answer back to the king.
The king did something extraordinary. He called together all his people and stood by one of the great columns of the temple and raised his voice as loud as he could and read from the ancient words. The people—from the youngest to the oldest—dedicated themselves to Jehovah-Yahweh, to love Him, to serve Him, and to obey Him forever.
Imagine if the President of the United States gathered the members of Congress together, and the governors, and the mayors, and all the people tuned in by television, and he said, “I have just discovered in my own life the power of the Bible, and this Book is at the heart of America’s story, and if we don’t rediscover it, our blessed nation will be judged like ancient Sodom, ancient Judah, ancient Rome. And what if the entire nation began singing, “Have Thine own way, Lord, have thine own way.”
It may not happen exactly like that—but America needs a spiritual awakening before she sinks beyond redemption point. If it happened in the days of Josiah, it can happen now.
But the story’s not over. In chapter 35, the entire nation followed up on their commitment by celebrating the festival of the Passover. Look at verse 1: Josiah celebrated the Passover of the Lord in Jerusalem, and the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteen day of the first month. He appointed the priests to their duties and encouraged them in the service of the Lord’s temple. He said to the Levites, who instructed all Israel and who had been consecrated to the Lord: “Put the sacred ark in the temple that Solomon son of David king of Israel built….”
Apparently wicked Manasseh had taken the sacred Ark of the Covenant out of the Most Holy Place and replaced it with his vile image or statue. Josiah had the Ark restored to its rightful place.
Verse 7: Josiah provided for all the lay people who were there a total of thirty thousand lambs and goats for the Passover offering….
This festival commemorated the night the Children of Israel escaped from Egypt because the blood of the slain lambs protected them from death. The Passover Lamb is the Bible’s great preview of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. On that day in Jerusalem, there were 30,000 reminders that Jesus Christ was coming into the world.
Verse 10 says: The service was arranged and the priests stood in their places with the Levites in their divisions as the king ordered. The Passover lambs were slaughtered and the priests splashed against the altar the blood handed to them.
This is predictive of the spilled blood of Jesus Christ, as the hymnist has said:
Would you be free from your burden of sin?
There’s power in the blood.
Verse 18: The Passover had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of Samuel; and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah, with the priests, the Levites and all Judah and Israel who were there with the people of Jerusalem. The Passover was celebrated in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign.
Josiah was only twenty-six, but he had brought spiritual reformation to his people. He had another thirteen years to lead his people politically and spiritually before he was tragically killed in battle at the age of thirty-nine. From that point, the nation of Judah spiraled downward like airplane out of fuel. Josiah was their last, best hope—and he provided hope for his generation.
Let me leave you with three propositions. Our nation and our state and our city and our schools and our homes are in trouble, and we need a revival like that of Josiah. What were his secrets.
First, rekindle the burden. Even as a boy, Josiah was burdened for the Lord and His work. He wanted God to use him. We can’t do anything without a burden, and God gives each of us a different burden or set of burdens. I’ve been reading a book by my friends Jim and Shirley Combs. They were serving as missionaries in Brazil when a little poverty-stricken boy named Marcos showed up at church to get a chocolate Easter egg. Like Josiah, his heart was tender and he wanted to learn more about what he heard in church that day. He found Jesus Christ as his Savior and was baptized.
One day Marcos didn’t show up at church, and Shirley went looking for him. She found his ramshackle dirty little home and knocked in the door and went in. He was standing there silent. His mother sat in the only chair, covered with blood. The boy’s father was in a rage, and Shirley had to leave. But Shirley said, “I have never been able to leave that scene. It influenced personal decision and personal commitments” as it related to their future ministry. Marcos was rescued and became the first of many. That’s how God gave Shirley a burden.
Let God give you a burden for His work, and don’t bury your burden. Without some kind of burden for this world, we can never change it. Josiah had the burden.
Second, rediscover the Book. Everything changed with the rediscovery of God’s Word. Without the Bible, there’s no revival—no global revival, no national revival, no personal revival. I’ve devoted my life to the supposition that this Book is the Word of God incarnate in human language.
The American Bible Society told of a man who was a patient in an American hospital in the nation of Turkey, and while there someone gave him a copy of the Bible. He was released and went back to his home town and showed it to his friends. A Muslim teacher snatched the book out of his hand, tore out its pages, and threw them into the street. A grocer was passing by, and he picked up the papers and started using them as wrapping paper for his produce, and in this way the pages of that Bible were spread all over town. People read the page they had and wanted more. Sometime later, a Bible colporteur came into town and was amazed to find a hundred people lined up to purchase a copy of the Bible.
People who read and study their Bibles every day with a prayerful, humble heart and qualitatively different from those who don’t. If our nation is going to experience an awakening, it will only come through the faithful, steady, accurate, piercing study of the Word of God.
Third, rely on the blood. After Josiah developed the burden and discovered the Book, he instituted the Passover where the blood of the Passover Lamb was shed, forecasting the death of our Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross and the redeeming blood that flowed from His back, His brow, His hands, His feet, and His side. And without the blood, there is no remission of sins.
You cannot recover your life for God without going through the blood of Jesus. I don’t know what it’s that way. I have some understanding based on the teachings of Scripture, but we can never fully fathom the purpose and the power of the blood of Christ. It resides in the deepest mysteries of the counsel of the Triune God.
But this we know–His precious blood is
- a medicine that cures us from every everlasting ill.
- an acid that burns away our deepest stains.
- an ointment that heals our deepest scars.
- It’s the fuel of our faith.
- A liniment of life.
- An elixir for joy.
- A lotion for peace.
- It’s a vaccine that immunizes us against all the diseases of the devil.
- Most of all, there’s a foundation filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that blood lose all their guilty stains.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
When you combine the burden, the Book, and the blood, you have the blessings of God on your life, your family, your city, your nation.
Is there one of those elements missing in your life?
If it’s the burden, ask God for it until He gives you the specific burden that reflects His will for your life.
If it’s the Book, make a renewed commitment to read and study it every day.
If it’s the blood, you can do something about that right now by asking God to forgive your sins, wash your inward stains, and give you everlasting life through the Lamb of God.