A pilgrimage to faith in the integrity of Scripture

Enough things are lost in the average church to make some sort of lost-and-found department necessary, even if it is only a drawer in a desk somewhere. Church coatrooms often contain an interesting selection of old hats, overshoes, umbrellas, and gloves. Human memory being what it is, this is not surprising.

But what a shock it would be if the minister and his people gradually misplaced the Bibles until finally there were none left. In time, the memory of God’s word would grow dim, and no doubt some departure from the biblical norms would occur.

Apparently this very thing, this unspeakable and absurd thing, happened at the temple in Jerusalem during the latter years of the kings of Judah. Second Kings tells how the high priest “found the book of the law in the house of the Lord” (22:8, RSV). Righteous King Josiah, hearing the law read for the first time, tore his garments in horror at the thought of the wrath of God that must be directed against a people who so despised his words. Josiah did not try to shift all the blame to former generations, the ones who had let the Word of God slip away. He saw that the wrath of God was kindled against his generation, even though this wrath was rooted in the disobedience of their forefathers.

Chapter 23 then shows two things: the great idolatry and corruption that had followed the neglect and loss of God’s Word, and the vigorous reforms instituted by Judah’s horrified king. Vessels and priests had been consecrated to the service of Baal and other gods. Cult prostitutes had been plying their trade within the temple itself. The people had given their sons and daughters as burnt offerings to Molech. Josiah’s predecessors on the throne had ...

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