“Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me and for the people and for all of Judah. Ask him about the words written in this scroll that has been found…” (2 Kings 22:13).
The scroll that Hilkiah, the priest, found in the Lord’s Temple at Jerusalem was no ordinary scroll. It was a scroll that contained words given to Moses by God. Hilkiah had found none other than the Book of the Law, God’s blueprint to Israel for leading a life pleasing to Him and beneficial to them. This important scroll had been discarded long ago as evil king after evil king ruled Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel. As the kings and the people turned further and further away from God, the scroll was forgotten.
Now the scroll was no longer lost nor forgotten. It had been read to Josiah, the current king of Judah. Josiah was unique for this era because he was a king who desired to serve the Lord. It is said of Josiah that “never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength…” (2 Kings 23:25).
Finding the Book of the Law and hearing it read should have been a time of great joy. Josiah wanted to please God, and with this scroll in hand, he and the people didn’t have to wonder how to do that, for they now had a detailed document telling them what they needed to know. But Josiah was not rejoicing. He was deeply troubled, for he realized that the people of Judah were doing exactly what God had told them not to do, and their punishment would be severe.
This is what caused Josiah to ask the priest to speak to the Lord for him. Josiah needed to understand completely the troublesome words of judgment contained in the scroll.
Surely if there was a person who could come directly to God to speak of matters weighing on his heart, it was Josiah. The fact that he did not do so is striking. Why did Josiah ask Hilkiah to go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for him? Why didn’t Josiah speak to God directly?
“Go to the Temple and speak to the Lord for me” vividly tells the difference between Josiah’s times and ours. In Josiah’s time, God’s presence dwelt among the people, as it does today, but with one significant difference. God’s presence resided usually in one specific place, the Temple in Jerusalem. And in the Temple a heavy curtain created a barrier between God’s presence and those who came to the Temple.
There was only one time each year when someone was allowed to pass by that curtain to enter the Holy of Holies, and the high priest was that someone. To breach the curtain at any other time meant death; open access to the presence of God did not exist. This was forever changed, however, at the moment of Jesus’ death, as Christ ripped open the Temple curtain from top to bottom. By His sacrifice, Jesus offered us the great gift of direct access to God at any time and at any place.
Think about that! We have unlimited access to God at any time and at any place—to ask anything, to say what is on our hearts, to seek direction. We do not need to go through a third party. We have a direct relationship with our Lord.
God answered Josiah’s questions through the prophetess Huldah. God may still answer our questions through another. But God is as likely to directly answer the heart that seeks Him and His will through the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit who now resides in each believer.
Josiah needed a middle man to approach God, but God heard Josiah pray as He has always heard those who talk with Him from the beginning of creation. “So I have indeed heard you, says the Lord” (2 Kings 22:19).
God is with us through prayer and His Word. We can call on Him at any time and in any place—gifts for us to savor time and time again.
© 2010 Arlina Yates