2 Kings 23:5-7 [King Josiah, 640-609 BC] did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem – those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the LORD to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people. He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine-prostitutes, which were in the temple of the LORD and where women did weaving for Asherah.
It is difficult to comprehend just how bad the ‘religious’ practices of God’s Covenant People could have become in less than four centuries since King David’s foundational influence. Could David himself have imagined the comprehensive apostasy that would occur when he wrote: “The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring for ever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. … … May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD , my Rock and my Redeemer” (Psalm 19:9-11, 14)?
The impetus behind Josiah’s reform was his discovering of the forgotten Book of the Law in his cleaning up of the Temple. The relevance of all this for us is Martin Luther’s rediscovery of the Bible just over five centuries ago and the difference this had to make to the thinking of the Church after fifteen centuries of Gospel history. The people Jesus came to six centuries after Josiah were just as much in need of another ‘Back to the Bible’ campaign as were God’s Covenant People in Josiah’s time.
And now I need to face the challenge, “Are we who enjoy the rich inheritance of the sixteenth century Reformation as much in need of a ‘Back to the Bible’ campaign today as they were? Is it any wonder that Chapter 1 of the Reformed Confessions is consistently devoted to establishing the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as God’s authoritative, infallible Word, his unchanging revealed truth for the life and doctrine of the Church?
May we take these events in Church History to heart, and ensure we don’t lose the ‘Book of the Law’ yet again! We can start by making sure we read, study, and sit under the faithful preaching of it regularly while, unlike so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ in the world, we are still able to do so!
– Bruce Christian