2 Kings 22:11-13
"When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes...Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found."
2 Chronicles 34-35 provides a more thorough explanation of Josiah's reign as king of Judah. 2 Chronicles 34:3 says at the age of 16 Josiah began to seek the God of David, his father. At the age of 20, he began to destroy all the pagan shrines and idols in Judah. After completing the purification of the land and temple, Josiah began the repair of the temple. It is easy to understand why it took six years to purify everything from the description of the idolatry of his grandfather, Manasseh, in 2 Kings 21.
The "Book of the Law" Hilkiah, the high priest, found in the house of the LORD was probably Deuteronomy. In Deuteronomy 17:14-20, God provided specific instruction for the kings of Israel, one of which was for each king to write for himself a copy of this law to read all the days of his life. By faithfully observing this command the king would learn to fear the LORD his God. This fear would keep the king from becoming prideful and turning away from the commandment either to his right hand or to the left. There were several kings of Judah who "did what was right in the eyes of the LORD" but Josiah is the only one Scripture says "did not turn aside to the right or the left." (2 Kings 22:3, 2 Chronicles 34:2)
When the words of the book were read to Josiah, he tore his clothes as a sign of grief or distress. Genesis 37:29 records the first time tearing of clothes occurs in Scripture when Ruben discovered Joseph was not in the well because his brothers sold him as a slave. Tomorrow’s reading in Joel 2:12-13, says return to the Lord with all your heart by fasting, weeping, mourning and by tearing your heart instead of your clothes.
Scripture does not indicate Josiah had a heart after the LORD like his father David, but he too was quick to repent. In 2 Kings 22:19, the LORD through Huldah, the prophetess, says "Because your heart was penitent, and you humbled yourself before the LORD, when you heard how I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before me, I also have heard you." God's word caused that reaction in Josiah. Even though the description of the word of God found in Hebrews 4:12 had not yet been written, the living, active, sharper than a two-edged sword pierced Josiah's conscience. God's Word must always bring change when read and understood correctly.
Do you find it curious the "Book of the Law" was lost in the house of the LORD? Having read of Manasseh and Amon, it is understandable how that happened. But reading that made me wonder if the Bible might be lost in the church today. My church spent the month of October remembering the 500-year anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Each Sunday, our pastor preached on one of the five Sola's; scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, Christ alone for God's glory alone. While teaching on scripture alone, Michael spent a significant amount of the sermon explaining why Scripture is authoritative and sufficient for disciples of Jesus Christ to live godly lives. My question concerning the church losing the Bible is not about the number of Bibles available to the church but whether we as the church are living under the Bible's authority, believing it has God’s sufficient answer to all the questions of life.
Isaiah 66:2 says, "This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble, and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word." Josiah was that kind of man! Am I?