“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
One of my greatest joys in life is studying God's Word. It hasn’t always been that way, though.
I spent years resistant to His Word. Then perplexed by His Word. And finally, so moved by His Word it broke through all my hurt, confusion and rejection. Jesus saved my life. And it was His Truth that rewrote the story of my life.
But He couldn’t change my story until I embraced His story. And that meant I had to stop viewing His Word as some out-of-date book and receive it as breath and life for each new day.
Our response to His Word is very telling of how we view His Word. We see this Truth in a passage of Scripture I would love for us to consider today.
Second Chronicles 34 gives us an up-close look at the life of King Josiah, a man who began seeking God at an early age, “… while he was yet a boy …” (2 Chronicles 34:3, ESV), and continued to respond to God with a heart of humility as he grew.
The life of this king who “… did what was right in the eyes of the LORD …” (2 Chronicles 34:2, ESV) reminds me of what theologian and scholar G. K. Beale said in his book, We Become What We Worship: “We resemble what we revere, either for our ruin or restoration.” King Josiah sought after the Lord, and therefore his actions reflected the One whom he revered. The result? The restoration of the people of God for a season under the rule and reign of this righteous and upright king.
King Josiah's seeking resulted in repairing the temple of the Lord, which led to the discovery of the Book of the Law. This is where we witness the first of two very different responses to God's Word.
It’s important to note in 2 Chronicles 34:15-18 how Hilkiah, the priest, and Shaphan, the secretary, each viewed the Book of the Law. Hilkiah referred to it by its proper name. However, when Shaphan delivered the message to King Josiah, he simply said that he had been given “a book.” (v. 18a) Clearly, the importance and reverence of this book was lost on Shaphan; however, the response of King Josiah helps us to see the importance of the words of the Lord.
Not only did King Josiah tear his clothes upon hearing the Book of the Law, (2 Chronicles 34:19) but he also humbly received correction and moved with wisdom after inquiring of the Lord — choices that ended up impacting the hearts of the entire nation. (2 Chronicles 34:29-33)
Sadly, a quick look ahead at Josiah’s family line reveals a very different reaction to God's Word. Instead of reverence or even indifference, Josiah’s son Jehoiakim responded with defiance. When presented with the written word of the Lord from the prophet Jeremiah, Jehoiakim tore the Word of God and burned it in the flames. (Jeremiah 36:23)
I don’t think any of us would go to such extremes. But it still begs us to ask the question: How will we respond to the Word when it is presented to us? Will we be torn in our hearts and drawn to repentance and worship? Or will we remain prideful and resistant?
I believe our answers to these questions hinge on how we view God’s Word.
If we treat God’s Word simply as an ancient book with some good principles, we will read it and take from it what we want. But if we truly believe the Bible is the living Word of the one true and holy God, we won't just read it — we’ll let it read us. Our key verse reminds us, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
If we will let it, Scripture can breathe fresh life into us, rearrange our wrong thinking, redirect our wayward heart tendencies and cause us to become more and more humble with each interaction.
Though it chronicles events in past tense, the Bible is God's Word speaking to us in present tense. And how we approach it matters more than we know. Because there is nothing more powerful than a person living what God’s Word teaches.
Father God, thank You for reminding me that the best way to approach Scripture is with humility and reverence. Even if the Truth is painful, Lord, I want You to speak to me. I want You to change me. I want to walk in the hope and freedom Your Word is offering me today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY
2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (NIV)
These days, we are bombarded with information. Who can we trust when we have questions? And does having questions make us “bad Christians”? The audience of the book of Hebrews was not much different than us. They, too, had questions about their faith. Join Lysa TerKeurst and the First 5 team for our next First 5 study, When I Don't Know What to Believe: Why Jesus Is the Answer, starting June 7 in the First 5 app! Discover why Jesus really is the answer when you have questions about what you believe. Order your study guide today!
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REFLECT AND RESPOND
Have you ever felt resistant to anything God has asked of you in His Word? How is He helping you overcome those feelings? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.
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