by Brandy Webb
Last year, I wrote the Feast lessons for CGI for both young kids and teens, and one of my favorite lessons was called Read the Manual. It has actually stuck with me. I have to give God credit because I believe He gave me the creativity and words to write those lessons. I had never undertaken a project like that from start to finish using just my imagination. So, let me give credit where credit is due because I am not at all going to brag about my writing. The lesson’s point was you can’t do things without reading the manual, reading the instructions. So, how do we expect to go through life without reading our “instruction manual”?
Over the ages mankind has been searching for the “secret of life.” There are numerous books from various “experts” that proclaim their opinion of what the secret of life is. However, we are blessed to have a book of books that actually informs us about our purpose as long as we are willing to put away all preconceived bias and opinionated ideas and open it up and study it. It is our Bible. It is the place to learn the “secret of life,” our purpose, and allows God to speak directly to us. Seriously, what do you think life would be like without our Bibles?
Well, there are many stories that show what life was like when God’s people forgot Him, and one that stands out is the story of Judah after Hezekiah. The story starts in Second Kings chapter twenty-one. Manasseh becomes king after Hezekiah, and he completely went down a different path than Hezekiah. He rebuilt all the “high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed” and went as far as sacrificing his own son in fire (2 Kings 21:3, 6). The Bible states that Manasseh led Judah astray and “did more evil than the nations the Lord had destroyed before the Israelites” (verse 9). This guy was not only evil, he was the most evil ruler of his time. The instruction manual, God’s Word, was forgotten. Manasseh reined for fifty-five years.
Then, his son Amon reigns. He was also evil and followed in the footsteps of his father. He reigned only two years. Therefore, for fifty-seven years, Judah walked in darkness and did extreme evil. This is when we get to one of my favorite stories of the Bible. In chapter twenty-two, Josiah becomes ruler of Judah at age eight. Now, I am sure he had a lot of advisors that actually ruled in his place until he came of age, but still eight years old and king? What a huge responsibility. At only age eighteen, a teenager, he sends out Shaphan to go to Hilkiah, the high priest, to start fixing God’s temple (2 Kings 22:3-7). He was a teenager who had a grandfather and a dad that were evil; yet, he innately knew that they were wrong in their ways. He decided to go down a different path and because of his choice the Book of the Law was found (2 Kings 22:8). (Now, I do want to interject something here, Josiah was a teen. So those of us who are raising teenagers should not fall into the lie that all teens are rebellious. The Bible shows many times that this supposed “truth” is actually a lie.)
When Josiah hears the “words of the Book of the Law” he completely humbles himself before God, repents, and inquires of the Lord because He knew God’s anger was burning against Judah (2 Kings 22:11-13). God lets Josiah know that due to his humbleness, He will not destroy Judah while Josiah is alive. The Bible states that never “before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses” (2 Kings 23:25). There are a few things that I find interesting about this statement. One, this scripture seems to me to imply that Josiah turned to God even more than David did. Two, that Josiah did all of this because he read the Law of God. For over fifty years, God’s Word was lost, and when it was found it turned a king to the point that no other king was like him.
We are blessed to have access to God’s Word all the time. We can have it in book form, digital form, and audio form. Do you realize that you don’t have to go that far back in time to a time where the only people who had a copy of God’s Word were priests and rabbis? In fact, we are so blessed that we not only have access to the Bible, we have access to it in our own language. Yet, the question is, are we reading it regularly? Do we take it for granted that it is there, but do not consult it when we are trying to figure out what we need to do with our lives? Do we turn more to the self-help section of the bookstores rather than our own Bibles?
I know that I can be guilty of consulting other avenues before consulting God’s Word when I am trying to figure something out. I need to stop because I am taking the Bible for granted. Amos warns us that there is a famine coming, “not a famine for food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11). I do not understand prophecy that much, but I definitely do not want to encounter a famine of God’s Word.
We have our instruction manual from God, and we need to know the instructions that are in it in order to fight against the forces we can’t see. Remember:
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:1-5).
If we want to walk in the light, we have to know the Word of God.