by James L. Groce

God, because He knows the end from the beginning, set the qualifications and responsibilities for a king long before Israel desired to have one. From the hand of the lawgiver, Moses, God gave a brief resume’ for leadership while Israel was yet wandering nomads under prophetic guidance.

In Deut. chapter seventeen, verses fifteen through twenty, is the divine directive. First: God shall choose the king. Second: “may not set a stranger over thee.” Third: “he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses.” Fourth: “neither shall he multiply wives to himself.” Fifth: “neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.” And then the narrative, in verse eighteen, commands: “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book…and it
shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life.”

It become painfully apparent that the final portion of this law was completely neglected by almost every king that ruled in Israel. The downfall of king Saul was his criminal negligence of the Word of the Lord. David, the shepherd king, paid the more earnest heed to Samuel’s instructions than his careless predecessor. The singer of psalms found his inspiration in the law of God. The one hundred and nineteenth psalm is testimony to King David’s reverence and obedience to the word. Hear him as he sings, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to thy word.”

And again, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” King David obviously had written himself a copy of the law, which he read all the days of his life.

With the passing of the man after Gods’ own heart there followed Solomon. Just one step from a reign of a godly king and Solomon neglects nearly all of the requirements of kingship. Solomon possessed 1,400 chariots, 12,000 horsemen and nearly 15.000 horses. He eventually had 700 wives and 300 concubines. Solomon’s wealth valued almost $3,490,200 just in gold alone, not counting precious stones and etc. The conduct of his latter years tell the sad story of neglect of the law of God. Where Solomon is your copy of the law that was to be with you and read all the days of your life? As Paul had written in his epistle to the Galatian’s, “I marvel that ye are so SOON removed from him that called you.” So must it also be said of Solomon. The neglect to keep a personal copy of the law and to read therein all the days of his life began a landslide of ungodliness that swept from generation to generation.

Later filling the throne of kingship there was Manasseh whose total disregard of the law brought the wrath of God upon the nation. In Manasseh’s footsteps followed Amon his son. And he “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.” Thus, then, Josiah, a child of eight years, found himself on the throne of David, surrounded by the accumulated evils and errors of his father and his grandfather and by forms of corruption which had been introduced by no less a personage than Solomon himself.

II Kings the twenty-third chapter describes the condition of things at the opening of Josiah’s history. There were “idolatrous priests, whom the KINGS OF JUDAH had ordained to burn incense in the high places, in the cities of Judah, and in the places round about Jerusalem; those also that burned incense to Baal, to the sun, and to the moon, and to the planets, and to all the host of heaven.”

Ponder this! Think of the kings of Judah, successors of David, ordaining priests to burn incense to Baal! When each of these kings was responsible to “write him a copy of the book of the law,” which he was to keep by him, and in which he was to “read all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and those statues to do them.” How sadly had they departed from “all the words of the law,” when they could actually ordain priests to burn incense to false gods!

But further, there were “horses that the Kings of Judah had given to the sun.” and that, “at the entering in of the house of the Lord,” and “chariots of the sun,” and “high places which SOLOMON the king of Israel had builded for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Zidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of the Moabites, and for Milcom the abomination of the children of Ammon.” It was into this moral decay and degenerate ungodliness that Josiah, the eight year old king, began his reign.

Then comes an astounding occurrence, “Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land and the house, he sent Shaphan…and Maaseiah…and Joah, to repair the house of the Lord his God. And when they came to Hilkiah the priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God…And when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found a book of the law given by Moses…and Shaphan read it before the king. And it came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the law, that he rent his clothes.”

Josiah had found the book of the law, and discovered in its sacred pages an order of things wholly different from what he saw around him. The accumulated rubbish of ages and generations lay before him. One after another of his predecessors had added their disobedience to the pile.

Let us remember that all the evil, all the corruption and confusion, all the reproach and blasphemy, had its origin in the neglect of the word of God. The moment a man departs, the breadth of a hair, from Scripture, there is no accounting for the monstrous compromise into which he may rush.

But with the word having cast a light upon the error, Josiah, “began to purge Judah and Jerusalem from the high places, and the groves, and the graven images, and the molten images. And they brake down the altars of Baalim, and the images he brake in pieces, and made dust of them, and strewed it upon the graves of them that had sacrificed unto them.” It mattered little to Josiah that all these things could boast of antiquity. That they had been instituted by Solomon and left standing by Hezekiah. He was not swayed that their foundations had been laid amid the splendors of the reign of Israel’s wisest and wealthiest monarch, and the most pious and devoted of Josiah’s predecessors had left them as they found them. None of these things, we are persuaded, moved him. If they were not based upon “thus saith the Lord,” he had but one thing to do with them, and that was to “beat them into powder.”

Who, then, was Josiah that he should presume to overturn such respectable institutions? What right had he, a mere youth, raw and inexperienced, to set himself in opposition to men so far beyond his wisdom, intelligence, and mature judgement? Why not leave things as he found them? Why not allow the current to flow peacefully on through those channels as it had for ages and generations? Disruptions are hazardous. There is always a great risk in disturbing old prejudices. Josiah had made connection with the true source, going beyond the past rulers and hearing from the “Ancient of days.”

And faithfully committed his way to the word of God to reproduce the will of God in his day.

Leadership in Apostolic ranks today need a return to the true source, the Bible. When we compare ourselves with ourselves we are not wise. We need alignment to the eternal word not to the status quo.

It is still the law of leadership that, “he shall write him a copy of the law in a book…and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life.” As plainly as Jesus answered the religious sect of his day, the Sadducees, he must also declare to this generation, “you do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”

There exist assembly after assembly that bedeck themselves with jewelry. Rings: friendship, class, wedding and even dinner rings. Why is this idolatry permitted? Because of the neglect of the word of God in leadership. Their claims of permission are not obtained from the word of God for it boldly declares its disapproval to such practices (I Tim. 2:9, I Pet. 3:3). But their justification is, “everyone else does it.” And, “hasn’t it been alright and condoned with the last three pastors?”

Immorality has spread through the rank and file of Pentecost like a howling fire through dry corn stalks. And the nut shell reason is because leadership turns a complete deaf ear to the word of God.

Deacon boards, that rule churches, that hire and fire preachers; professional clergy; double marriages; immodesty of dress; rock singers; long haired men and worldly amusements in the house of God are the direct result of leadership that has neglected the book of the law.

Thank God for a few Josiahs left that “beat into powder” all that finds not its origin in the book of the law. Of course, there shall be a lot of bitter cups of protests, that will accuse and mock the old time preaching of modern day Josiahs. But we shall not have to answer to the wise Solomons but only unto Him that “stands in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.”