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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Word: Hidden in Plain Sight (2 Kings 23:2)

"He went up to the temple of the LORD with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets--all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD."

I often use two plates to illustrate the difference between the Word of God and Bible supplements (Christian Living books, etc.). One plate contains a steak dinner while the other plate contains a handful of vitamins. Supplements are just that, supplements. Supplements can quickly become substitutes. Reading Christian books in place of spending time in the Word of God is like living off of vitamin supplements instead of eating a healthy meal. Keeping rules, following tradition, and Christian entertainment have become substitutes for the Word of God--creating spiritual anemia.

The Book of the Law was found hidden in the most unlikely place--the temple of the LORD. It was hidden in plain sight. The appallingly low Bible literacy figures among the churched in the U.S. indicate that the Word is hidden in plain sight once again:
  • Where it spends the majority of its time between church services on the back dash or back seats of cars
  • Where it collects dust on office shelves and coffee tables
  • Where its place behind the pulpit has been replaced with ten steps to here and three steps to there
  • Where Sunday Schools read and study the works of popular authors instead of the Word
  • Where cell groups discuss their hurts and pains without considering the Words of Life
  • Where "fill in the blanks" has replaced the self-discovery of critical thinking and wrestling with Scripture
  • Where legalistic duty to rules and man-made regulations have replaced the joyful relationship to the Living Word
I pass a number of churches on my way to church every Sunday morning. In the past fourteen years I have yet to see anyone carrying their Bible from their car into those church buildings. We need not wonder at the spiritual declension of our country. King Josiah's return to the Scriptures heralded a new day of revival for a floundering nation. So too, recovering Bible literacy in our day will herald a new day of revival.

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Nahum 1:1-3:19
  • One hundred years have passed since Ninevah (Gentile city and the capital of Assyria) repented at the preaching of Jonah. So then, one hundred years have passed since Ninevah experienced revival. As you read Nahum consider this in light of their more recent past of taking Israel into captivity. God used them to judge Israel but punished them for their willingness to destroy Israel with their excessive cruelty.
  • Why is Nahum's prophecy against Ninevah such good news to Israel?
  • What analogies does Nahum use to describe the focus of Ninevah's trust?
  • What characterizes the city of Ninevah that causes her enemies to rejoice at her destruction?
2 Kings 23:1-28; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19
  • To what extent had the people of Judah and Jerusalem worshiped idols?
  • What was the basis of Josiah's decision making? Review Deuteronomy 17:14-20.
  • Why was the Passover the first feast to be restored in the newly revived city of Jerusalem?
  • What does the celebration of the Passover do for Judah and Jerusalem?
  • Even though Jerusalem experienced a period of revival under the leadership of Josiah why does the LORD still promise to judge Jerusalem and Judah?
Turning truth into into prayer
Ask the LORD to grant a return to Bible literacy in America's churches.