From Splendor to Shadow


Chapter 33—The Long-lost Law Book Discovered

The messages of the prophets regarding the Babylonian captivity did much to prepare the way for a reformation in the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign. This reform movement was brought about in a wholly unexpected manner through the discovery of a portion of Holy Scripture that for many years had been misplaced and lost. SS 206.1

Nearly a century before, during the first Passover celebrated by Hezekiah, provision had been made for the public reading of the book of the law. Observance of the statutes recorded in the book of the covenant (a part of Deuteronomy), had made the reign of Hezekiah prosperous. But during Manasseh's reign the temple copy of the book had become lost. SS 206.2

The long-lost manuscript was found in the temple by Hilkiah, the high priest, while the building was undergoing repairs. He handed the precious volume to Shaphan, a learned scribe, who took it to the king with the story of its discovery. SS 206.3

Josiah was deeply stirred as he heard for the first time the warnings recorded in this ancient manuscript. Never before had he realized how repeatedly Israel had been urged to choose the way of life, that they might become a blessing to all nations. See Deuteronomy 31:6. The book abounded in assurances of God's willingness to save those who should place their trust fully in Him. As He had wrought in their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, so would He work mightily in placing them at the head of the nations of earth. SS 206.4

As the king heard the inspired words, he recognized, in the picture set before him, conditions similar to those existing in his kingdom. In these prophetic portrayals of departure from God, he was startled to find plain statements that the day of calamity would follow and that there would be no remedy. There could be no mistaking the meaning of the words. And at the close of the volume, in a rehearsal of the events of the future, Moses had declared: SS 207.1

[Israel] forsook God who made him,
And scoffed at the Rock of his salvation ... .
They sacrificed to demons which were no gods ... .
You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you,
And you forgot the God who gave you birth.
The Lord saw it, and spurned them,
Because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters.
And He said, “I will hide My face from them,
I will see what their end will be,
For they are a perverse generation,
Children in whom is no faithfulness.”

How should one chase a thousand,
And two put ten thousand to flight,
Unless their Rock had sold them,
And the Lord had given them up?

Vengeance is Mine, and recompense,
For the time when their foot shall slip;
For the day of their calamity is at hand,
And their doom comes swiftly.
Deuteronomy 32:15-20, 30, 35, RSV