Pursuing A Passion For The Word Of God
I was in a large bookstore some time back, and went upstairs to browse. When I got to my section, I noticed three teenage girls sitting on the floor shopping for Bibles for themselves. I was standing near them, and admittedly, I began to eavesdrop on their conversation. As I continued to browse, I could hear that they were comparing Bible versions, while reading passages. For some reason, this really blessed me. To see young people, eager to have the Word, eager to read the Word, and eager to know the Word. I see that as passion; and that is the kind of passion that we need desperately.
Josiah: The Boy King The story of Josiah is one of the most powerful and encouraging stories in all of Scripture. Josiah became the king of Judah at the ripe young age of eight. He succeeded his father, who was king before him. We read of his father Amon: “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his father Manasseh did. And he walked in all the way that his father walked in, and served the idols that his father served, and worshipped them” (2 Kings 21:20-22).
Amon was so evil that his own servants conspired against him and murdered him in his own house. What would follow makes the story of Josiah all the more miraculous. When we take into account the evil deeds of his father, and even his grandfather Manasseh before him (though he would repent in the end), how could it be that Josiah would be the human spark that would bring revival to the people? During a project to repair the house of the Lord, when Josiah was eighteen years old, Hilkiah the priest found the book of the Lord. Can you imagine this? The Word of God had been lost for generations due to the wickedness of the kings we have mentioned. The people had either forgotten it, or more than likely, did not even know its contents.
“Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, ‘Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.’ And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king. When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.” (2 Kings 22:10-11). Josiah's Passionate Response to the Law
Why did Josiah respond in this way to hearing the word of the Law? Tearing one’s clothes was a sign of grief. This was the feeling that washed over him as he listened. “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us” (2 Kings 22:13). There is also another reason why Josiah responded as he did. Josiah had a passion for the things of God. A prophetess by the name of Huldah spoke these words concerning Josiah that tell us all we need to know about him: “Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people — that they would become a curse and be laid waste — and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’ So they took her answer back to the king” (2 Kings 22:18-20). Josiah had a tender heart and a humble spirit. He was just eighteen years old, but I believe he possessed a maturity beyond his years, especially as it concerned the things of God. These qualities gave him a passion for at least four things:
1. The Place of God Young Josiah knew that the house of the Lord was a holy place. Even before the book of the Law was found, he knew that God’s house should not be in disrepair. He had gathered all the carpenters, builders, and masons to buy wood and stone to do all the work that needed to be done. Do you have a passion for the house of God? Not just for the wood, brick and cement, but for the spirit of the house? Jesus said: “‘It is written,’ he said to them, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Matthew 21:13). Jesus’ righteous anger led him to drive out those who were ignorantly misusing the house of God for their own selfish purposes. We too must honor and respect the house of God as Josiah did.
2. The Precepts of God
We have spoken already of Josiah’s response to the Word upon hearing it for probably the first time. I believe Josiah – and king David before him – shared some of the same qualities, especially as they relate to God’s Word. “I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways” (Psalm 119:15). “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I have set my heart on your laws” (Psalm 119:30). “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long” (Psalm 119:97). “My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words” (Psalm 119:139). These are just a few of the parallels found between the two kings. They speak of respect, love, zeal, and choosing the way of truth and zeal. These qualities are the making of a powerful child of God. The Word of God is a mandatory requirement in our arsenal against the enemy of our souls. How is your passion for the Word? 3. The People of God Josiah exhibited a concern for God’s people. As we have read previously, Josiah said, “because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” It was not just personal for him. He understood that even though he was the king, they were all in it together. They all needed to recognize from where they had fallen; they all needed to return to the Word of God. When Josiah says “us,” we understand that he is including himself as one who needed personal revival. Josiah would go on to make a covenant before the Lord, which included all the people: “The king stood by his pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD — to follow the LORD and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, and to obey the words of the covenant written in this book. Then he had everyone in Jerusalem and Benjamin pledge themselves to it; the people of Jerusalem did this in accordance with the covenant of God, the God of their ancestors” (2 Chronicles 34:31-32).
4. The Presence of God
Having a passion for the place, precepts, and people of God, leads to one thing: Josiah had a passion for the presence of God. We read one verse that tells us that he remained faithful to God until the end: “Josiah removed all the detestable idols from all the territory belonging to the Israelites, and he had all who were present in Israel serve the LORD their God. As long as he lived, they did not fail to follow the LORD, the God of their ancestors” (2 Chronicles 34:33). The type of passion that Josiah displayed in his lifetime is the same type of passion that can propel us to great heights with the Lord. Along with the truth that we are now living in the dispensation of grace means that our opportunities are near limitless; coupled with the will of God, and Spirit-driven passion. The passion that we need is available to all who put God first and seek to do His will. Do you have the passion you need?
That's the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.