Focus Scripture: 2 Chronicles 34:15, 18-19
How could they be expected to follow the law if they didn't know it? That is one of the questions today's passage raises for me. It is apparent from the story that the Book of the Law (presumably all or part of the first five books of the Bible traditional believed to have been written by Moses) had been lost and lost for a long time. When the book was read to the King, he was horrified at how badly they had broken the law. He was so upset that he tore at his clothes.
This raises many questions for me: How had the law been lost? How had previous good kings known what to do if the law had been lost? Where was this book found? Had it, like so many things in my house, fallen between the cushions of a couch or perhaps fallen off the top of a bookshelf behind and out of view? Was there only one copy so that when this one went missing there were no others to refer to? And if it was the only copy of the law given to Moses, how was its absence not noticed and a search conducted for the book?
Biblical scholars have largely concluded that the Book of the Law that was found as described in Chronicles, was more likely written at around this time as part of an effort to restore proper worship.
But another question worth pondering is, if the King instituted all the required reforms and the people followed the king's lead, why was the country still condemned? Why were they not forgiven? (verses 24-25) It is this question, perhaps more than others, that cause many scholars to conclude that this story was written, not as a contemporaneous recording of events, but as a retrospective explaining why it was that Judah was defeated by Babylon and the first temple destroyed.
Is the teaching for us today as simple as "follow the law of God or you and your descendants will suffer?" Is there a more subtle, and more Christ-like message for us? Perhaps such as, the truth is written on your heart even if the book with the details is lost so that you can be held accountable for your faithfulness to God's will?