2 Kings 22:8—23:2
In 1947 some Bedouin shepherds accidentally stumbled upon the most important biblical manuscripts to be discovered in modern times—the Dead Sea Scrolls. These priceless copies of Holy Scripture had been hidden, unknown to man for nearly 2000 years. If you can imagine the excitement surrounding this discovery, then you will begin to appreciate the excitement surrounding the incident our text records.
I. A Timely Discovery
A. In 638 b.c. a new man ascended the throne of the kingdom of Judah.
1. Up to this point Judah’s history had been a chronicle of a sorry succession of weak, unscrupulous rulers.
2. A single verse describes their reigns, recurring like a doleful refrain throughout the book of Kings, “and he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”
B. But suddenly the rhythm breaks and there comes to the throne one of whom the chronicler can say, “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord … and did not turn aside to the right hand or the left” (2 Kings 22:20).
1. So begins the reign of Josiah, one of Judah’s noblest kings.
2. On Josiah’s 26th birthday his life took a dramatic turn. He decided to rebuild the temple which had fallen into a state of disrepair. By rebuilding that sacred shrine he hoped to restore the religion that the temple symbolized.
C. However, it was not a rediscovered building that was to bring religious revival to the land, but a rediscovered book.
1. A group of workmen discovered an old scroll that had been hidden beneath the debris.
2. Imagine the excitement of Josiah as the scroll is read to him, the growing awareness that this was no ordinary book, the final realization that this was nothing less than the law of God.
3. There followed the greatest religious revival in Judah’s history.
II. A Timeless Truth
A. This story can be read almost as a parable.
1. Throughout history the Bible has often been a lost book, buried and forgotten beneath the rubble of ignorance, tyranny, and unbelief.
2. It was so before the invention of printing, in pre-reformation Europe, and tragically it is also true today when, in spite of the fact that it remains the world’s most widely distributed book, it is seldom read and is regarded by many as mythical or outdated.
B. But each and every time that the Bible has been rediscovered it has invariably resulted in changed lives and revitalized religion.
1. The renewals, reformations, and revivals in the history of the church can be traced, almost without exception, to one factor—some fresh rediscovery of some essential message of the Bible.
2. When the church has wandered from the Gospel into the paths of its own devising, a new and deep study of Scripture has been the means of recalling it to the truth and purpose of God.
3. The great giants of the faith, whose influence has shaped the course of Christian history, for the most part, have derived their motivation from a renewed contact with the written word.
C. But the greatest power of Scripture is not its ability to start movements; it is its ability to change lives. What can a rediscovery of the Bible mean for us?
1. Ask a man on his death bed who has read of the “resurrection and the life.”
2. Ask a widow at a graveside who is reminded that “the Lord is my shepherd.”
3. Ask a lonely, guilt-ridden sinner who has at last discovered the “God who so loved the world.”
Whittier said it well in a bit of oft-repeated verse: “We search the world for truth, we cull the good, the pure, the beautiful; and weary seekers of the best, we come back, laden from our quest, to find that all the sages said, is in the Book our mothers read.”