Know Your Bible

VOL. 5                           August 6, 2006                           NO. 29

LOST IN THE HOUSE OF GOD

"While they were bringing out the money that had been brought into house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given through Moses. Then Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the secretary, 'I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.' And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan. Shaphan brought the book to the king, and further reported to the king, 'All that was committed to your servants they are doing. They have emptied out the money that was found in the house of the Lord and have given it into the hands of the overseers and workmen.' Then Shaphan told the king, 'Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.' And Shaphan read from it before the king, " (2 Chron.34:14-18, ESV).

    Josiah was the best king that the southern kingdom had and during his reign he tried to bring his people back to Jehovah. Both his father, Amon, and his grandfather, Manasseh had been very wicked kings and had promoted the worship of pagan gods in the kingdom. In addition to the grooves and high places dedicated to these gods, Manasseh had placed two altars and a carved idol in the outer court of the temple. Josiah lead a movement to purge the kingdom of idolatry and restore the worship of Jehovah. In doing this considerable work had to be done in making repairs in the temple. In the process of bringing out the money that had been collected for this and putting it into the hands of the overseers of the work for buying needed materials and paying workmen, Hilkiah, the high priest, found a copy of the Book of the Law of the Lord.

    This Book of the Law was very likely the Book of Deuteronomy, which contains the last three speeches of Moses to Israel before his death and their entering Canaan. In his last speech to them he pointed out plainly the blessings that Jehovah would confer upon them if they faithfully followed Him and equally as clearly the curses that would befall them for not doing this (Deut. 28). "When he had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, 'Take this Book of the Law' and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there as a witness against you," (Deut.31:24-26, ESV). This explains why the Book of the Law was in the temple but not how it became lost therein.

    How did this copy of the Book of the Law become lost in the house of God? The Scriptures do not give the answer to this question, nor was the Jewish historian, Josephus, of any help. One scenario that I came across was that during the wicked reign of Manasseh when he placed altars and an idol in the outer courts of the temple, some of the Levites fearing that he might become bold enough to enter the temple proper and desecrate the ark of the covenant, slipped into the temple at night and carried away the ark of the covenant and hide it until Manasseh's repentance during his last five years of reign. During this time it was returned However, if this were the case, why was the Book of the Law not found at this time?

    We have to be content with the fact that it was found by Hilkiah, the priest, at the time he was bringing out the money for the repairs being made in the temple. The fact that he announced to Shaphan that he had found it, leaves no conclusion other than it had been lost--and lost in the house of God! I find this to be amusing but at the same time alarming. Suppose 1 were to tell you that I had lost my Bible and two months later that I found it and when you asked, "Where?" and I replied, "In the church building!" Would you not find it amusing that a preacher would loose his Bible in the church building? The part which I find alarming is the number of things which I see lost in the house of God today. I'm not talking about hats, coats, children toys, etc. left in the church building. The church, not the building in which we assemble for worship, is the Lord's house or temple today (Heb.3:6; 1 Tim.3:15). I've been preaching more than sixty years and I'm distressed and alarmed by the things which I see lost in the church or house of Lord today.

I see a loss of Biblical knowledge. The Lord through Hosea said; "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,' because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God; I will also forget your children, " (Hos.4:6). My people were once a people who were known for "calling Bible things by Bible names," but such is hardly the case now. I hear brethren call the preacher the "pastor," and refer to a small church as a "mission," and the man who evangelizes in another country as a "missionary," and of church sponsored feasts and frolic as "fellowship." My brethren have wasted thousands of dollars building "fellowship halls" to eat and play in when this no more represents Biblical fellowship than sprinkling correctly represents what baptism is. "After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, 'certainly you are one of them, for your accent betrays you,'" (Matt.26:73). Our use of the vernacular of denominationalism reveals our lack of Bible knowledge and I understand why. Go through the church building and count the class study books and Bibles that never go home with the owners and you will understand why they are Biblically illiterate. No Bible study or lesson preparation before class will produce this.

I see a loss of respect for the need for Scriptural authority for what we teach and practice in religion. We once were the people in the religious world that called for the need for speaking ''as the oracles of God" (1 Pet.4:11), that pointed out that to build upon the rock one must hear and do what the Lord says (Matt. 7:24-27) and to fail to do this is to build upon sand We heralded the clarion call that to go beyond the doctrine of Christ (2 Jn. 9) means forfeiting fellowship with God and to add or take from the word is to bring the plagues of the Book upon us (Rev.22:18-19) and that not even an angel can preach another gospel without bringing heaven's anathema upon it (Gal.1:6-8). We are producing a new generation that doesn't know the Book They want to eliminate this "legalist" book:, chapter, and verse preaching and get back to more emphasis on the emotions and a joke punctuated preaching that offends no one and lets sinners leave feeling good about themselves. When we assume that anything not expressly forbidden is permissible in religion and if some is a "good work" the church can do it and when the president of one the largest preacher producing machines in the brotherhood, ACU refers to singing as our "traditional" way of worshiping, its time for us to wake up to the fact that we have already or are fast losing our respect for the need for Scriptural authority for what we teach and practice.

I see a loss of reverence in our worship services. I understand that worship in spirit and truth (Jn.4:24) doesn't require our going through it in a cold, ritualistic fashion but neither does it mean that we are to forget that we are in the presence of the Divine One and hold Him in reverence and awe. In fact, to exhibit godly fear means to show reverence and respect. After showing that an idol, whether of wood or metal, has no life in it, Habakkuk said, "But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him," (Hab. 2:20). Some of us enter worship with the levity of a sporting event. Unless one is sick or on medication frequent parades to the rest room or water fountain are unnecessary and distracting to others. The transition from our period of class study into the auditorium should be short and made quietly. Some congregations treat this as a "half-time" activity at a ball game and it requires the first song to get every one back in place.

    In the first century while the New Testament was being revealed and put in writing often members in a local congregation possessed miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit used in edification and teaching. A problem developed in the Corinthian church of these wanting to use their gifts at the same time which created turmoil and discord in their assembly. Paul wrote giving an order for the use of these gifts (1 Cor.14:26-39) and reminding them that God "is not a God of confusion but of peace," (v.33) and that they should do all things "decently and in order" (v.40). We aren't in possession of miraculous gifts now, they ceased with the completion of the revelation of the New Testament which they confirmed (Heb.2:3-4; Mk.16:20), however the principles of God's not being a God of confusion and doing things decently and orderly are still applicable and needs observing in our worship. We've made some good progress in doing this in the congregation where I worship, but I think we can do better. Jesus said that where two or three are gathered in His name that He would be in their midst (Matt.18:22). Let's each ask ourselves, Does my conduct in the assembly, and that which I require of my children, indicate to others that I recognize that the Lord is in our gathering?

I see a loss of zeal for lost souls in the house of the Lord. I remember when gospel meetings ran from ten days to three week in length and brethren would drive a long distance to support a neighboring congregation in its meeting. "Granny" Kettle once told me of a trip that she, her husband, sister Esther Mitchell, and her husband, made over gravel roads to Memphis in an old model A Ford, no air conditioning plus they had three flats on the trip, to hear bro. N B. Hardeman preach just one night. Now many will hardly support a meeting of the congregation to which they belong and they won't drive across town to support a sister congregation! Oh, to drive a hundred miles and sit on a backless bleacher for a two hour ball game is nothing but to put that much into an effort to convert or strengthen souls is out of question!

    How long has it been since you have asked someone to attend services with you? Have you tried to set up a Bible study with someone in your home or to come to their's for one? Have you mailed or given a religious tract to a person whom you would like to see become a Christian? How about trying to interest a friend in taking a correspondence Bible course? Or, are you like the lady who once told me about visiting the sick, "That's what I pay my preacher to do."

    How much responsibility do you feel toward the local church to which you belong? Do you support its activities or are you content to come Sunday morning only? If others reacted toward the mid-week Bible study as you do, would we need to dismiss that service? Does your zeal exceed Laodica' s (Rev. 3:15-16)?

    These are some things which I see that are lost in the Lord's house or church today. If we can find them again, we can experience the growth of the past.

---Lowell Blasingame

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