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In 2014, I graduated High School and was blessed with the opportunity to go to France and Spain for my Senior Trip. Accompanied by my mom, French teacher, and a few classmates, we took a journey halfway across the world to a foreign land of sights, sounds, and cultures.
Although I had taken French I-IV, it was blatantly clear that I and the others were merely lost tourists in another city. Not only was I unable to speak the language or converse with others from the area, but I indeed stepped on quite a few toes (literally).
In case you are unaware, people in France are typically not like people in the United States. And if you are walking on the sidewalk and they are walking on the sidewalk, you are expected to move, not vice-versa. Even stranger, when riding on public transportation, talking to others is not recommended. In fact, it is seen as rude. Talk about a strange place (or whisper, I should say)!
From Paris, France, to Spain, I was completely unknown. And other than the small group I went with, no one knew who I was, where I was from, or what I was doing. And truth be told, I did not know either. At eighteen years old, I felt just as lost on the inside as I did on the outside. The girl wandering the streets of Nice was a vivid illustration of someone who had lost their identity.
The Lost Nation
In 2 Kings 22, Josiah the King knew what it felt like to encounter someone who was lost. Except for him, it was the entire nation.
At the age of twenty-six, King Josiah was in his eighteenth year of reigning Jerusalem. As a good King, that is, one who was righteous in the eyes of the Lord, He was aware that the Temple of the Lord was in need of some repair.
Sending Shaphan, son of Azaliah, and grandson of Meshullam, the court secretary, to the Temple of the Lord, Scripture tells us, “He told him, “Go to Hilkiah the high priest and have him count the money the gatekeepers have collected from the people at the Lord’s Temple. Entrust this money to the men assigned to supervise the restoration of the Lord’s Temple. Then they can use it to pay workers to repair the Temple. They will need to hire carpenters, builders, and masons. Also have them buy the timber and the finished stone needed to repair the Temple. But don’t require the construction supervisors to keep account of the money they receive, for they are honest and trustworthy men” (2 Kings 22: 3b-7, New Living Translation).
But when Josiah thought he was in the business of ordering some known temple repairs, God was in the business of ordering that a completely unknown Law become known to them. For without the Word of the Lord, the nation was lost, but it was unknown to them that they were missing something.
“Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the court secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the Lord’s Temple!” Then Hilkiah gave the scroll to Shaphan, and he read it. Shaphan went to the king and reported, “Your officials have turned over the money collected at the Temple of the Lord to the workers and supervisors at the Temple.” Shaphan also told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a scroll.” So Shaphan read it to the king. When the king heard what was written in the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes in despair” (2 Kings 22: 8-11, New Living Translation).
A Torn Response
In verse eleven, it is clear that not only had Jerusalem been void of the Law of the Lord but that this was a very bad thing. Immediately upon hearing that Hilkiah found the Book of the Law in the Lord’s Temple, this is why Josiah tore his clothes in despair.
He knew that the nation he ruled was not living as it should, and that bothered him. In fact, it bothered him so much that it led him to the point to do something about it.
“Then he gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the court secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal adviser: “Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for the people and for all Judah. Inquire about the words written in this scroll that has been found. For the Lord’s great anger is burning against us because our ancestors have not obeyed the words in this scroll. We have not been doing everything it says we must do” (2 Kings 22: 12-13, New Living Translation).
Josiah was so distraught and disgusted at his nation’s inability to know about the Law that he sent Hilkiah, the priest, to get word from God. Though Hilkiah spoke with the prophet Huldah, who said the Lord would bring disaster on the King of Judah for their disobedience, the Lord also spared Josiah because he humbled himself before the Lord and repented.
“So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to the New Quarter of Jerusalem to consult with the prophet Huldah. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, son of Harhas, the keeper of the Temple wardrobe. She said to them, “The Lord, the God of Israel, has spoken! Go back and tell the man who sent you, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this city and its people. All the words written in the scroll that the king of Judah has read will come true. For my people have abandoned me and offered sacrifices to pagan gods, and I am very angry with them for everything they have done. My anger will burn against this place, and it will not be quenched” (2 Kings 22: 14-17, New Living Translation).
Not only did God hear his pleas and decide that He would not bring disaster to the city until after Josiah was dead and buried and peace, but He made he who was completely unaware of the Law known by it and set free.
“But go to the king of Judah who sent you to seek the Lord and tell him: ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the message you have just heard: You were sorry and humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I said against this city and its people—that this land would be cursed and become desolate. You tore your clothing in despair and wept before me in repentance. And I have indeed heard you, says the Lord. So I will not send the promised disaster until after you have died and been buried in peace. You will not see the disaster I am going to bring on this city.” So they took her message back to the king” (2 Kings 22:18-20, New Living Translation).
The Lost Nation of Today
Today, we may be tempted to say that this historical account is irrelevant. That the Bible is accessible in various places all over the world, and the Law of the Lord is no longer unknown but known. But is it really?
I guarantee you that like Josiah, there are still nations, neighbors, and towns that do not know about Jesus.
There are still prostitutes, princes, and paupers that are missing out on the greatest gift of life because they have never been told.
But if you have more than one Bible in your home, are able to go to church, and talk about Jesus freely, you are blessed.
There are people dying for the sake of sharing the Gospel, and while that may sound absolutely terrifying, it is the mission to which each of us is called.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, New International Version).
When Josiah was completely unaware of the Lord’s Law and then found out, he immediately surrendered and repented. It is our same mission today to recognize our need for Christ and share that crucial need with others.
Just as the Lord was merciful, gracious, and forgiving, He is merciful, gracious, and forgiving now. And perhaps that is why He keeps waiting to return.
He is giving those of us who are known by Him time to tell those who are completely unknown that someone died to know them.
Aspects of our world are still unknown. And though many have made their choice, I pray you feel a heavy burden to tell those who are still utterly lost and unknown that you would be more than happy to introduce them to someone who calls them cherished, known, and loved today.