Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

The Scribe Shaphan Reading The Book Of Law To King Josiah, Leonaert Bramer, c1630 ,

And Shaphan the scribe shewed the king, saying, Hilkiah the priest hath delivered me a book. And Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes.
2 Kings 22:10-11

Following two disobedient kings, Josiah, the great grandson of the good king Hezekiah came to the throne, aged eight. Like his respected ancestor Josiah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord.1 In the eighteenth year of his reign Josiah embarks on a project to renovate the neglected temple and during this process the Book of Law is found. That the book needed to be "found" at all is extraordinary. This episode encapsulates just how far Israel had strayed from the covenant God had made with Moses and his people eight hundred years earlier.

And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, When all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.2

For Josiah, the discovery of the book was an awakening moment, a turning point. He rents his clothes as an expression of dismay and astonishment, and as a gesture of grief for the fallen, sinful nation. In a very literal sense Israel had been living with the law, but not by the law. The book was hidden in plain sight. That it was never seen indicates how little (if at all) anyone in those times visited the temple. The Word of God was just some vague idea, open to any kind of interpretation to justify a chosen behaviour or course of action.

In the same way, what is good and right is written into our hearts, but too often we neglect the language of the heart in favour of the ideas and opinions formed in the brain. We live with the words, but not by the words. The words are always there, but we neglect to look, getting drawn away by selfish desires and worldly passions, letting our structure of integrity fall into disrepair. We need our own moments of renovation to uncover the words of truth that dwell deep within, and in revealing the truth we can have our "Josiah moment" — the chance to repent and amend.

1 2 Kings 22:2
2 Deuteronomy 31:10-12