340 year old bible found, reminds me of Hilkiah’s finding the Law in the temple

Here is a small thing that is good and nice. It is a news piece out of Wisconsin, ripped from 2 Kings 22. First, the modern version:

“A centuries old relic has been discovered in a Bonduel (WI) church, tucked away for decades. No one realized it was even there, or what it was. In a cramped, rarely seen safe, no bigger than a kitchen pantry, at St. Paul Lutheran Church are heaps of old books and pamphlets. Many of which are more than 100 years old and in foreign languages. Most of the artifacts wouldn’t fetch a high price at auction, but represent the church’s nearly 150 year history and heritage. Now, one item kept there for an unknown length of time has taken the entire congregation by surprise. “This is an authentic 340-year-old Bible. We don’t know how we got it. We don’t know how it got into the safe. We’ve been asking some of our elderly folks and people in the nursing home and nobody seems to remember,” said Pastor Timothy Shoup.” source

How amazing! A beautiful original bible from over three centuries ago! How could they forget that it was there? Here is a bit more:

“A 340-year-old bible discovery can attest to the fact that they sure don’t make things like they used to. The German bible was discovered by a sixth grade teacher inside an old safe in a small Lutheran church school where she works in Bonduel, Wisconsin. “I was looking for the old baptism records to show my students and then up here in the corner was where the Bible was tucked,” explained Court, not realizing what a rare find she stumbled upon.”

Imagine, in a dusty closet of the church, lay the precious treasure, there all along but quite forgotten.

And a bit more:

“How the book ended up in Bonduel is still a mystery. But either way, Pastor Shoup says the 17th century discovery has brought him closer to his faith.”

How beautiful that the revealing of the Word caused the pastor such a sensitive and blessed reaction.  Did you know that the Old Testament records another, similar instance? I’m not making a huge doctrine out of it, I believe that the news spot out of Wisconsin is a nice event that happens more often than we know. But the similarities with the bible’s discovery and our Sunday School lesson focusing on Hilkiah, Huldah, and King Josiah was too sweet to ignore drawing some parallels. In Josiah’s reign, a long and evil, corrupt line of kingship was coming to an end. Josiah’s grandfather and father were terrible kings that did much evil in the eyes of the LORD and provoked the LORD greatly. His people had not only fallen away, had forgotten Him and His word, but they engaged in perverse and horrible worship practices to other gods. Finally came Josiah, a good king of Israel, was endeavoring to have the Temple repaired. As you can imagine, no one really used the Temple for real worship and had not for a very long time. Here is the biblical piece about it:

The Lost Book (2 Kings 22:8-11)

Then Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the scribe, “I have found the book of the law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan who read it. Shaphan the scribe came to the king and brought back word to the king and said, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house, and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD.” Moreover, Shaphan the scribe told the king saying, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it in the presence of the king. When the king heard the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes…”

As the workmen were moving furniture around and inventorying items, this book of the Law was found! Hilkiah the Priest wasn’t sure what exactly it was, and Shaphan the scribe wasn’t exactly sure, either! The two men, along with three others searched high and low at the king’s command, so they could inquire of the LORD. (2Kings 22:13) They found Huldah the Prophetess, who told them.

Huldah Predicts (2 Kings 22:14)

“So Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Achbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe (now she lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter); and they spoke to her.”

Ahikam was Shaphan’s son, a helper. Achbor was an officer of Josiah, as was Asaiah. Shaphan was a scribe of King Josiah. It is shame and a testament on the men that though they held lofty positions in the religious hierarchy, none felt they had the ear of the LORD, and they went to find someone who did, ending up with Huldah. Huldah is named as “keeper of the wardrobe”, and wardrobe then is as it is now: a closet for storing clothes. 2 Kings 10:22 is another example of the keeper of the wardrobe: “And Jehu said to the keeper of the wardrobe, “Bring robes for all the ministers of Baal.” So he brought out robes for them.”

The small closet where the bible had been stored

Huldah was also a prophet. She told the men that the LORD said that since Josiah had been repentant and tender in his heart toward the LORD, the LORD would stay His wrath upon Judah until Josiah was laying peacefully in his grave.

It is interesting to note that the King’s faith deepened upon finding the Word. Tearing of clothes was an act that was meant to convey either great grief or great righteous indignation. The custom was also done as a symbolic removal of authority i.e. the tearing of a king’s royal robe. Here is a link to a short study on the biblical act of tearing of clothes, by Wayne Blank. Josiah was immediately convicted upon hearing the words of the LORD, and he tore his clothes. He sent out a search for a person who could relate the meaning of the words and help them come into obedience to them. It is also interesting to note that the Wisconsin Pastor’s faith deepened upon finding the word. Finding the precious treasure that is God’s word is always a blessing.

Josiah’s men found the Scriptures in an old wardrobe when doing routine repairs and inventory, and the School teacher found the word of the Lord while doing routine rummaging in a forgotten closet in search of old records. The LORD reveals Himself when and where He chooses, and at unexpected times!

I think about the bible itself, being twenty pounds. It’s huge! Someone carried that bible all the way from Germany across Europe, across the Atlantic Ocean, across half the American continent! Look at it, its size and heft. Yet, the Word of God meant so much to him that he took the trouble and expense to bring it with him , on horseback, in canoes, in ships, by hand…and protected it so well all along the way!

I hope that if you own several bibles, that none of them are laying on the back of the car window, fading as the sunlight drains the print away. I hope that your bible is meaningful to you and that it is used daily, lovingly, reverently. I hope that you do not travel so far away from the Word that you forget what it says and have trouble even finding a person who can relate its meaning to you.

The Wisconsin Pastor said of the find, “To hold something that tells us in 1670 the same message of God’s grace in Christ, that tell one another other today helps me be even more thankful.” Yes, the best lesson out of all of this is God’s word is eternal! (Mt 24:35)
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