By Jady W. Copeland
One meaning of the word “lost” is, “not used to good purpose.” Thus we may say, “He lost time.” Therefore in this article, I don’t mean we have lost our Bible (though I think this often happens), but I mean we have not put the word of God to good use. We have not used it for the purpose God intended.
Josiah began reigning over Judah at the young age of eight years, and in his eighteenth year as king he ordered Shaphan, the scribe, to the house of the Lord in order to tell the high priest Hilkiah to “sum the silver which is brought into the house of the Lord” which had been gathered by the people for the repair of the temple. When Hilkiah did this, he found the book of the law in the house and gave it to Shaphan who read it, and took it to the king. When Josiah read it, he rent his clothes and told Hilkiah the priest to “go ye, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of his book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us” (2 Kgs. 22:13). This book may have been the original of the covenant renewed by Moses in the plains of Moab which he ordered to be put beside the ark (Deut. 31:26). At any rate the book had been lost and the nation of Judah under the two previous kings had become very wicked, having left the commandments of the Lord. While there were other circumstances involved in the apostasy of the nation, the fact remains that the book of God was lost. Josiah said, for great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us” (2 Kgs. 22:13). Josiah knew that without the words of God there was no way for the people to be guided by the Lord.
God’s word was lost to the Jews in the days of Christ on earth because of man’s traditions (Mk. 7:5-9). By this time the Jews had decided that their traditions were as important, or more so, as the Scriptures themselves. Jesus said, “Ye leave the commandment of God, and hold fast the tradition of men.” His example was that the money they should have used to take care of their parents had been “given to God” (Corban). Thus they voided the word of God because of traditions of men.
Tradition of itself is not wrong. In fact the word is used in a good sense in 1 Corinthians 11:2 where Paul wrote, “Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you.” “Tradition” simply means “a handing down or on” (W.E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Vol. IV, p. 147). But Paul told us where he received that which he “handed down” – from the Lord himself (Gal. 1:11- 12). Even man’s traditions are not necessarily wrong unless we make them “law” – either by word or practice. I am afraid we have come very close to making some of our practices “law,” however.
Let me illustrate with a simple illustration. It has been my observation in some congregations that we have almost “deified” Wednesday night. During a meeting, people will come on Wednesday night but not on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday. Why? I believe one should take advantage of Sunday night and Wednesday night worship opportunities. The one who does not come indicates a lack of zeal, spiritual maturity and desire to know more of God’s word, to say nothing of the opportunity to encourage others and enjoy their fellowship. The same can be said to some degree of taking advantage of meetings in other communities, though we may not have the same obligation there. So just to come to the meeting house on Wednesday night because we are “supposed to” is not good enough reason, and looks very much like one may be coming out of tradition.
God’s word is “lost ” to some due to ignorance. They cannot make best use of it because they do not know what it says. We surely pray often enough that we listen to the lesson “that we may apply it to our lives.” But even so, it is to me amazing how much ignorance there is among us. There is of course, no magic way to getting knowledge; we must study and “give diligence.” We surely do an injustice to 2 Timothy 2:15 when we think “study” (King James Version) means no more than reading a few verses just before we fall asleep so that, perhaps, we can say we are a “daily Bible reader.” The American Standard Version says “give diligence.” The Revised Standard Version says “Do your best to present yourself approved.” This brings up another major problem in our generation, we are too busy.
In our society we have to “keep up with the Joneses” and that necessitates the husband working two jobs often, and putting the wife to work, often at night, or even on Sunday. This not only prevents them from taking advantage of worship opportunities with the brethren, but also makes them so tired that they do not want to study in the home; even if they have time after this; selfish people grapple for the things of this life to make them more comfortable. If these “faithful” ones do manage to make it to services on Sunday and perhaps Wednesday, they have been so “busy” in work and watching TV that they have not prepared their lessons. Of course, this all boils down to the sad fact that they do not have their priorities right (Matt. 6:33).
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 5, pp. 129, 151
March 1, 1990