Text: 2 Kings 22:1-13
Introduction: There is a direct correlation between spiritual maturity, spiritual blessing, and an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father on the one hand, and the knowledge of and obedience to the word of God on the other.
When the Apostle Paul spoke of spiritual maturity/immaturity in 1 Corinthians he did so in the context of the degree to which we know and understanding the Bible: (1 Cor. 3:1-2)
And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 ? I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it , neither yet now are ye able.
And in his letter to the Hebrews Paul expresses spiritual maturity in the same terms: (Hebrews 5:12-14)
For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. 13 ? For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. 14 ? But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
In our text, we discover a situation that shows the seriousness and importance of God's word in the life of God's people, both corporately and individually.
After the death of Solomon, the kingdom of Israel, which had been united under Saul, David, and Solomon, split into two separate kingdoms: 10 tribes forming to the North under the leadership of Jeroboam, whose capital was in Samaria, which is referred to as the Northern Kingdom, or Israel; and 2 tribes (Benjamin and Judah) remaining in the South under the leadership of Rehoboam, whose capital was in Jerusalem, which is referred to as the Southern Kingdom, or Judah.
The Northern kingdom lasted for 200 years before it was finally destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC. During the time of this kingdom, not one king was considered good, or righteous before the Lord.
We are now almost 100 years later (80 to be exact) when we read about Josiah coming to the throne in 2 Kings 22. Josiah was the last good king of the Davidic line prior to the Babylonian exile which occurred in several different phases beginning in 607 BC.
Josiah ascended to the throne (640 BC) when he was 8 years old (2 Kings 22:1). Eighteen years later, when he was 26, Josiah sends Shaphan to the temple to receive the money donated for its repair in order to deliver it to the workers (2 Kings 22:3-6). While there, Hilkiah, the Priest, finds the book of the Law and gives it to Shaphan who in turn reads it. Upon his return to the king, Shaphan reports that the money has been collected and distributed to the workers as commanded. He then tells the king of the book that Hilkiah found and reads it to him.
When Josiah hears the word of the Law, he rends his clothes and commands the religious leaders to inquire of the Lord on behalf of the people, for he feared great wrath from the Lord because of their neglect of and consequently their disobedience to the Word of God.
TRANSITION:I believe that our situation today is very similar to the situation of Josiah's day, yet for different reasons. Today, we too, have strayed from the teaching of God's word, but not for lack of the scriptures, but from an outright disregard of them.
We say that we believe the Bible is God's word, but we certain don't live as if we believe it.
The need for revival
John MacArthur writes of the Contemporary Christian Church:
Today's church has become a popularized institution. As it continues to eliminate any offense from its message, the church has increased its social acceptance. Now it is characterized by self-centeredness, secular psychology, and pragmatism. Today's church asks, Does it work? What will it do for me? Howmuch success will it produce? How much money will it bring in? But instead it should be asking, What honors the heart of God?
This "pop church" is found on "Christian" television, radio, and celebrity variety shows. Entertainment has replaced worship, pride has replaced humility, success has replaced excellence, and cleverness has replaced character. Sometimes Christian radio shows feature guests who make unbiblical claims about God, yet the host makes no attempt to correct it. Psychology and psychiatry have replaced Bible teaching as the staple of Christian radio. And local churches are becoming comfort zones, Christian country clubs, and community centers, with little redemptive impact or threat against sin. There are several main features that categorize this popular Christianity.
Its trend is more subtle than theological liberalism, which directly attacks the church and therefore iseasy to see and deal with. The popular church pretends to adhere to the truth, yet quietly undermines it. It substitutes experience, emotion, and problem solving for the Word of God as its basis of faith. Its theology is focused on meeting people's needs. The Charismatic Movement is at the forefront of this new basis of faith with its private revelations, prophecies, and visions. Many Christian ministries are now characterized by pragmatism, manipulation, professionalism, and consumerism. [Emphasis Mine]
And James Montgomery Boice equally has written:
What hit me like a thunderbolt several years ago is that what I had been saying about liberal churches in the 1960s and 1970s now can be said about evangelical churches too. Have evangelicals now fixed their eyes on a worldly kingdom and chosen politics and money as their weapons? About ten years ago Martin Marty, a shrewd observer of the American church, said that by the end of the century evangelicalswould be "the most worldly people in America:" he was probably too cautious. Evangelicals fulfilled his prophecy before the turn of the millennium.
He goes on to write:
Evangelicals are not consciously heretics. Is the Bible God's Word? Of course! Is it authoritative? Yes, that too. Inerrant? Most evangelicals will affirm inerrancy. But many do not think the Bible adequate to meet today's challenges, or sufficient for winning people to Christ. They have turned to felt-need sermons, entertainment or "signs and wonders." The Bible is insufficient for achieving Christian growth; so they turn to therapy groups or Christian counseling. It is insufficient for making God's will known; so they look for external signs or revelations. It is inadequate for changing our society; so they establish evangelical lobby groups in Washington and work to elect "Christian" congressmen,senators,presidents and other officials. They seek change by power politics and money.
All of this is exactly as the Bible prophesied it would be in the last days
Spiritual Conditions in the last days:
The Great Apostasy -
2 Thess. 2:3
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come , except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.
They shall fall away from the truth:
1 Tim. 4:1 - Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils
2 Tim. 3:1-9 - This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 ? For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 ? Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 ? Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 ? Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 ? For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 ? Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 ? Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate ? concerning the faith. 9 ? But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men , as theirs also was.
2 Tim . 2:2-4 - Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 ? For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 ? And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
We are warned throughout the Bible regarding the dangers of apostasy:
Acts 20:29, 30 - For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 ? Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
2 Cor. 11:13-15 - For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 ? And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15 ? Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
1 John 2:18 - ? Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
2 John 1:7 - ? For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
Jude 1:3-4 - Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 ? For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:17-19 - ? But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 ? How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. 19 ? These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
God's word is important: precisely because of what it is God's word.
2 Thess. 2:13 - For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the wordof God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.
Hebrews 1:1-2 - God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 ? Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.
2 Peter 1:19-21 - We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 ? Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 ? For the prophecy came not in old time ? by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Hosea 4:6 - My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge...
Some interesting facts about the Bible:
The Bible contains sixty-six books written by over forty authors and covers a period of at least fifteen hundred years. With only a few exceptions, the authors were Jewish men. Yet the Bible has universal appeal. Two writers were kings; two were priests; one was a physician; two were fishermen; two were shepherds. Paul was a Pharisee and a theologian; Daniel was a statesman; Matthew was a tax collector; Joshua was a soldier; Ezra was a scribe; and Nehemiah was a cupbearer. The writing of these men expanded over fifteen hundred years and yet there is not one contradiction and they develop the same perfect theme.
Over 3800 times Old Testament writers claim they are writing the words of God.
New Testament writers
a) Their view of the Old Testament
New Testament writers believed the Old Testament was the Word of God. Over 300 times the New Testament directly quotes the Old. And there are at least 1000 references to the Old Testament in the New (Walter Kaiser, The Uses of the Old Testament in the New [Chicago: Moody, 1985], pp. 2- 3).
The Testimony of Jesus Christ
1. He was the theme of Scripture
John 5:39 - Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.
Luke 24:27 - Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He [the Lord] expounded unto them [the disciples], in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself.
2. He came to fulfill Scripture
Matthew 5:17 --"Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill."
Matthew 26:24 --"The Son of man goeth as it is written of him; but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It had been good for that man if he had not been born."
Matthew 26:54 --"How, then, shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"
Luke 16:17; 18:31 --"It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail ... Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished."
3. He believed the words of Scripture
Luke 4:16-21 - When Jesus began His ministry, as was His custom he entered the synagogue. He was handed the Scripture, specifically the book of Isaiah, where he read:
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 ? To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 ? And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 ? And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
4. He acknowledged the power of Scripture
Matt. 4:3-10 - When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He responded each time by replying, "It is written". He used the power of God's Word to overcome temptation.
5. He fulfilled the prophecies of Scripture
Jesus literally fulfilled hundreds of messianic prophecies For example, Christ was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:1), He suffered and died on a cross (Ps. 22; Matt. 27:46; John 19:28), and He rose from the dead (Isa. 53:9-10; Ps. 16:10; Matt. 28).
6. He gives credence to the truths of Scripture
a) Adam and Eve--In Matthew 19:4-5 Christ said, "Have ye not read that he who made them at the beginning, made them male and female; and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh?" (cf. Gen. 1:27; 2:24). Jesus did not believe in progressive creation or theistic evolution-- He believed in creation as recorded in Genesis.
b) The Flood--Jesus believed in a literal Noah and a literal flood. In Matthew 24:37-38 He said, "As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark."
c) Sodom and Gomorrah--Jesus confirmed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and Lot's wife (Matt. 10:15; Luke 17:29, 32).
d) The burning bush--Jesus confirmed the miraculous call of Moses (Mark 12:26).
e) Manna from heaven--Jesus spoke of the manna that was provided for the children of Israel in the wilderness (John 6:31-51).
f) The brazen serpent--In John 3:14 Jesus referred to the brazen serpent that was lifted up in the wilderness.
There are only three possibilities concerning Jesus' testimony to Scripture: 1) There are no errors in Scripture; 2) There are errors, but Jesus didn't know them and therefore was not God; 3) There are errors and He knew about them but covered them up and not holy. If God is holy, if Christ is holy then we must believe that the Bible is the Word of God.
That which David spoke to his son Solomon just prior to his death:
" Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, 2 ? I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; 3 ? And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper ? in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:" (1 Kings 2:1-3).