As our class continues its study of the book of Jeremiah I keep reminding myself of the historical context of the book. By the way, our class did just discuss chapters 5 and 6, but yes I am STILL fascinated with chapter 1. Back to the first couple of verses of that chapter:
“The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.”
So who is this King Josiah? How do we find out? Why is it important for us to know? If you have a Bible with cross-references it should point you to 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34 (if not, I just did). If you read both of these chapters you find that Josiah was the great-grandson of King Hezekiah (good king) and grandson of King Manasseh (really BAD king). Manasseh led Judah, the Southern Kingdom, into great wickedness, idolatry to be specific. Josiah became king when he was only eight years old and he was a righteous king. He purged the land of all of the altars that had been set up to worship idols. He also rid the land of the religious leaders who led the people in idolatry.
When he was 26 years old, after he had purged the land, he decided to have repairs made to the house of the Lord. Apparently it had fallen into disrepair while God’s people were busy worshiping false gods (it was hard to multitask even back then). One of the things I find so profound is what happened while the repairs to the HOUSE OF GOD (emphasis mine) were being made, 2 Chronicles 34:14-15a:
14 “When they were bringing out the money which had been brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the book of the law of the Lord given by Moses. 15 Hilkiah responded and said to Shaphan the scribe, ‘I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.’”
My mind goes several different directions everytime I read this, like: 1) If they found it, was it lost? Apparently so – the Word of God was LOST!; 2) Isn’t the house of the Lord where the book of the Law should be? So how was it lost?; and 3) They seem surprised! The priest of the Lord seems surprised to find the book of the law. Weren’t they in charge of it???
While I can look at those verses and easily get critical of people in a different place and a different time, I have to ask myself, what about the people of God in this place and in this time? Where is the word of God? Are we hanging onto it loosely, about to let go, about to lose its truth? Or are we gripping it like it’s our only hope? Can the word of God be found in the house of God today? Is it even important to us? Do we want to hear what God has to say to us?
Father, may Your Word be of the utmost importance to Your people. We are living in times not unlike Jeremiah – idolatry and rebellion are rampant. I pray that we would cling to truth, Your Word, and let it transform our lives. Give us ears to hear and hearts to understand and receive what You desire to speak to us. Help us to be a people after Your own heart who will do all Your will (Acts 13:22).