Can you imagine not having a Bible? The average American has 3.6 Bibles. I can assure you I am definitely helping to increase that average, so it is hard for me to picture what it would be like to not have access to a Bible, any Bible
Can you imagine that the faith community once "lost" the Book of the Law (the Torah, or first 5 books of our current day Bible)? Yet, believe it or not, that actually did happen to Judah in the latter stages of their existence just prior to their destruction by Babylon. It took a young king (Josiah) who was committed to refurbishing the run down Temple of God and the high priest Hilkiah to discover what had been lost during the reign of two unfaithful kings. The story is captured in 2 Kings 22 and 23.
Why was the Book lost? It seems the prior kings shoved it aside to make room for other idols and stuff in the temple. It effectively got boxed up and put in a closet, and as many things I have boxed up in my house, all but forgotten.
How long was it "lost"? We can't be sure, but it could have been well over 50 years. Sure, there were "excerpts" here and there, but the complete book was certainly mis-placed. In that time, before printing presses, very few copies of the Book existed. The king was supposed to make a copy at the beginning of his reign for study and referenced regularly (Deut 17:18-20), but it would seem the two unfaithful kings prior to Josiah didn't do that. The last copy was likely made by a faithful king (Hezekiah) some 100 years earlier.
Now on the positive side, I am grateful and inspired by what Josiah did once the Book of the Law was found. He was truly amazing, "not turning to the right or left," but faithfully seeking and following God in a difficult time in Judah's history. In short, he:
1) Found the Book
2) Read the Book
3) Was Convicted by the Book
4) Sought the Lord (what does this mean to me?; what must I do?)
5) Proclaimed the Word (shared it with others)
6) Made a Commitment (to follow and obey), which all the people joined
7) Made Changes (putting that commitment to action)
The result was to delay God's judgment on the nation. It seems that many had a chance to recommit themselves to God. Indeed, God was merciful even though judgment was deserved (and would ultimately still come, but not yet).
So now my question for you. Have you "lost the Book?" Has it been crowded out of your life by other things (idols if you will)? Is it, though maybe on your bookshelf, effectively boxed up and out of sight, out of mind? Do you need to do some cleaning of your temple (your heart) so you can find the word of God again? And are you willing to do more than just make promises, but to truly follow through on those by making changes in your life, the life of your family and the life of your church - our church?
I urge you, go looking for the Book - it may be right there in plain sight. Take it off the bookshelf, dust it off, read it, be touched by its message anew, seek the Lord by praying, share what you have found, make a commitment to obey, and then "just do it."
And for those of you already there, praise God, Please help the rest of us recover what all too many have lost.
Maybe our commitment and action to recommit ourselves to God and His word will again stay His hand for a season and allow others to be snatched from certain eternal judgment. After all, God is not slow in bringing about His promised judgment, but "He is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." (2 Peter 3:9)