2 Kings 22:8
“Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, ‘I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.’ And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. (NKJV)
I find it sad, amazing, comforting and yet sobering just how easy is has become in our generation to have “lost the Word of the Lord in the house of the Lord.” This had happened in the days of Josiah and it’s happening again in our day.
We’ve become a nation of believers who have yet to “find the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” Christian bookstores “turn a profit” selling novels, “how to” books and “how not to” books as well, when what we truly need is a prophet.
I understand how a child can benefit from a talking cucumber dressed up as a pirate telling them bible stories, but what I don’t understand is how a grown man or woman can benefit from a romance novel, Christian or otherwise. Isn’t the romance of the Bridegroom to His bride romance enough for us?
Imagine how differently the Book of Acts would read if the disciples, who’d just been immersed in the Spirit had descended from the upper room wearing Christian T-shirts but never said a word, or if they just handed out copies of the bible, but didn’t take the time to talk.
For the record I’ll say that, for the most part, I can agree with the Word of Faith adherents and commend them for their boldness in actually “speaking out,” however I will also say, for the record, that I wholeheartedly can never agree with the foundational reasons of what I consider to be their misguided representation of the Lord. In other words, as I’ve heard it said, “I prefer the way they are doing it wrong, compared to the way others aren’t doing any thing at all.” I appreciate their zeal, but question their theology, with respects.
Be that as it may, we’ve become a nation of saints who’ll read a novel, watch a movie (as good as “Fireproof” is, hasn’t the truth of God’s word on marriage been good enough for us? Apparently not.), or we rush to the bookstore when the newest work by our favorite author is “hot off the press.”
Has any one else ever noticed just how few aisles in a Christian bookstore contain bibles, while the other 99% of the sales floor is filled with shirts, robes, articles of communion, toys, CD’s and art work which has been “Christianized” by simply adding a verse or two?
Have we lost the “word of the Lord in the house of the Lord?” I have to wonder why this is. Now I’ll admit that the bible itself can be a very intimidating book and for what seems to be a multitude of reasons.
Just the other day as I was leaving the public library I noticed (not coincidentally) a man. What makes this so intriguing is that, although I couldn’t see what book he was reading, for a reason still unknown to me, we made eye contact and the Spirit of the Lord told me, just as He told Phillip, to “join myself” to this man. Unsure of myself, but having become surer of Christ in me, I ventured over to his table and asked a simple question.
“What are you reading up on today?” and when I noticed the library copy of the bible he held in his hands, and then the reason for the “eye contact” was quickly revealed and the foreordained “bible study” began.
“I’m reading Isaiah,” he said “but it’s so hard to understand.” The look in his eye and the tone of his voice told me that here was a man, young in the things of God, who really needed answers and wanted them. How thankful I am for that brief encounter and if I never see him again I left his company with a confidence of spirit and soul that is, without Jesus Christ, well beyond my reach.
The best book ever written on “How to Read the Bible” was written over a 1500 year time span, by 40 different authors and has been compiled for our ease; it’s called “The Bible.” The best selling book of all time.
I have found that the reason the bible can be so hard to understand isn’t because of the way it’s written, but is primarily (if not, singularly) because we approach it as if it’s a book instead of a “cell phone.” We open it to read, but seldom will we open its pages to actually listen to the voice coming from the “other side.” If you’ll allow it.
It’s not only natural for us to trust our own understanding, but that is the very reason the bible is so hard to understand. Because we are trying to understand a book instead of getting to know the One who wrote it.
The “wonder” of our God has been replaced by the formula, the religious incantations we feel we need to recite in order to get the God of Heaven and earth to respond. The “mystery” of our God has been dethroned by our desire to “know it all” but know very little about Him personally.
Like it or not, we have become a generation reminiscent of the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. We much prefer our altar building skills, our exuberant worship and the (mock humility) of the ways in which we “cut ourselves” as if this is the “circumcision” which is pleasing to God. Is it any wonder He is silent?
If you listen carefully, you’ll hear Him. He’ll be outside Jerusalem weeping because we don’t want Him to gather us; we simply want to be “right” about Him.
What used to be called “fellowship” is, in our day, little more than an academic initiation into a religious fraternity and if we don’t dance around the golden calf of the preacher, pastor or prophets making, well, we just aren’t “really saved.”
We, as a people, have most assuredly “lost the Word of the Lord in the house of the Lord.”
Isaiah said “I have seen the Lord…” The disciples told Thomas, “We have seen the Lord.” Paul’s declaration of having met the Lord is set forever. The religion of these men was based on reality, not theology.
In our day we hear the excitement of our exalted leaders, pastors, evangelists and revivalists who say instead, “I have had a vision from God.” Where are the men who can rightfully say “I have seen the Lord?” How do they know it was, for a fact, a vision from God when their exposition of His ways is so obviously contrary to who He truly is?
Please excuse me as I say that I’ve never been able to “see Jesus” prancing back and forth while shouting a sermon on the shores of Galilee in an attempt to take the people to the peak of emotion, an excitement which is sadly and typically enough to convince the people that “this is a man of God.” Shouldn’t that be a lower case “g”?
Where is the God of Elijah today?
Put away the Christian novels. Allow those religious “how to” books to gather the dust of misuse. Rather than Christian radio (good or not is irrelevant at this juncture) and listen instead to the worship leaders, who are, at this very moment, singing “Holy, holy, holy…”
If these words of mine have pricked your heart, or just plain “made you angry” then I’ve done all that I’ve been given to do. I’ll take a man who is angry with me over a “yes” man any day. I prefer the company of my enemies ever so much more than I care for the men who’ll say “friend” but withhold the opportunity of really knowing the King of kings.
If the Apostle Paul prayed, and he did, that “I may know Him…” then we’d outrun our own (self induced) zeal to say the same thing. I fear that we are too easily comforted by “what” we know instead of “whom.”
The woman at the well rehearsed her sincere beliefs to the Christ and He refused to let her be comforted by it yet again. He took “what” she believed and transformed it into a “who she could believe.” Was she sure of her theology? Absolutely, but she didn’t need the assurance of her religion, she needed a face to face, heart to heart encounter with the Risen Savior.
I’m afraid we are too comfortable with our beliefs and we mistake it for Faith. May the Merciful One be merciful to us.
Have we as a peculiar people, the “people of the Book” lost our bearings? Instead of looking to the Son, we’ve come to rely on the North Star of our own understanding to find our way instead? Reluctantly, I have to say “yes, we have.”
We no longer know the “Spirit filled life” because we’ve chosen a purpose driven life instead. Jesus was undoubtedly a man of purpose, but He wasn’t driven. He didn’t look for visions during His times of prayer; He only went “apart” in the morning to “see” His Father and ours. He didn’t “hope” the Father heard Him, He knew He always did.
People of the Book know that they’re always heard. But, if the “word of the Lord has been lost in the house of the Lord” we’ll never know with a convincing degree of assurance that He does listen, that He has heard.
The prophets of Baal carried on all day to be heard. They were indeed heard but He never answered. One man, a man who knew not just the word of the Lord, but the Lord of the Word, prayed for just a few minutes and, well, you know the rest of the story.
But, if you’ve lost the Word of the Lord in the house of the Lord, you may not.
I know of no more subtle counterfeit for the Spirit of God than that of a man who will dance, prance and stride across a stage, allegedly giving the people the “word of the Lord” in ever increasing decibels and, because we’ve lost the book, we mistake the heightened emotions for a genuine move of the Spirit of God.
The Bible isn’t just wonderful, it’s terrible. It’s terrible because I can make God say whatever I want Him to say as I read, and then I can rely on my heightened emotional state to convince others that “this is the word of the Lord.” Excitement is like alcohol, too much of it and the first thing to go is our perceptions, then our judgment and this can only result in some action and typically it will be an act which presents Jesus as being someone other than who He truly is.
But, if we’ve lost the word of the Lord because we’ve been too busy in the house of the Lord, we wouldn’t know that. Now, would we?
Read this story again and notice just how much “ministry” was taking place and all of it was before they’d found the Word in the house. It happened in their day and it’s happening in ours.
Whether or not it stays this way is entirely up to you. In your church, should you discover the Word of the Lord again, you may have to “go it alone.” But, wouldn’t you rather be alone with the Lord than have Him find you on the wrong side of Mt. Carmel?
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