A noteworthy scene in the Jesus Revolution movie takes place during a worship service. On one side of the aisle are sitting all the “misfits” – flower children who have been on a quest for truth. Many look a bit scraggly – long hair, no shoes, torn jeans. On the other side of the aisle sit the respectable people; the long-standing members who have faithfully shown up Sunday after Sunday. This group is dressed neatly, in their Sunday best. At the beginning of the message the pastor asks everyone to hold up their Bibles. The scraggly and hungry side of the aisle all hold up copies of Bibles which they have been studying and devouring. On the other side of the aisle are many hands which are empty, remaining neatly clasped in their laps. Their most valued and prized possession appears absent: the Book which can help transform them into who God has meant them to be has been forgotten. They had forgotten their name, the People of the Book.
II Chronicles 34 is the account of 8 year old King Josiah. At age 16, Josiah begins to seek the God of his father David. 26-year-old Josiah then goes on to purge Judah and Jerusalem of all its idols. Sadly, that is quite an extensive project as the people and their culture were drowning in wickedness. At age 26, Josiah orders the Temple in Jerusalem to be repaired, cleaned and set in order. In the process, the crew comes across something of far greater value than they could have imagined. Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord that had been given through Moses. (Vs 14) Eventually, word reaches King Josiah. His secretary, Shaphan, reads it in the presence of the king. When the king heard the words of the Law, he (Josiah) tore his robes. (Vs 19) As the Book of the Law (probably the first 5 books of what we call the Old Testament) was read in public for the first time in nearly 60 years, King Josiah ripped his clothes to demonstrate his agony. He grieved when he realized that he, as the nation’s leader, had not been fulfilling the commandments of the Lord.
THEY HAD FORGOTTEN WHO THEY WERE
The Jewish people had a vague memory of God, but the reality of permitting His Word to transform their lives had been long lost in the shuffle. They had forgotten who they were – People of the Book. Not only did hearing God’s Word deeply break Josiah’s heart, but he called a public meeting for everyone, from the greatest to the smallest. In the presence of all of his people, Josiah personally read the words of Moses. This was not a simple 5-minute reading of the Daily Bread; this was hours of public reading with everyone reverently standing at attention. The People of the Book were being given an opportunity to learn to live as they had been called.
THE CHURCHY SIDE OF THE AISLE
If we made a movie, the priests in Josiah’s time would be the nicely dressed religious ones on the churchy side of the aisle. They were the ones who were supposed to safeguard the Word of God for Israel and to faithfully teach it. However, they had long forgotten where the Word was and its significance.
JOIN US, THE MOTLEY CREW
This begs the question. Which side of the aisle are you? Have your heart and hands both long neglected the Word of God? Is your Bible something that you like when it convenient, but quickly becomes abandoned when it convicts of sin? May you join us, the motley crew of the ones who have come face to face with our sin, as we fall down on our knees and say, “Anything, anything at all You want to teach me Lord, I will obey. Please just open Your Word to me today and every day.”