The Book of the Law
Issue No. 278
The New Testament speaks of those who are called to “reign with Christ” (Rev. 20:6) and “will reign upon the earth” (Rev. 5:10). Paul speaks of the crown (or the wreath given to victors) that is sought by the overcomers in 1 Cor. 9:25,
25 And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
At the end of Paul’s life, he knew that he had obtained that crown, writing in 2 Tim. 4:8,
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
If we wish to obtain a crown, then there are certain requirements laid down in the law by which to qualify for rulership.
The Requirement of Kings
Moses gave instructions to the Israelites about the time when they were to have a king. Deut. 17:18-20 says,
18 Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by carefully observing all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or to the left; in order that he and his sons may continue long in his kingdom in the midst of Israel.
The king was to write his own personal copy of the law with the priests as witnesses. This is what God required an Israelite king to do before he was fit to rule the Kingdom of God. This requirement not only gave the king a proper education in justice administration, but also gave him no excuse for disregarding the law.
Further, for a king to actually write the law word for word would be a slow process. It would give him time to ponder each law carefully and to ask questions about it. This requirement was really to ensure that every king knew the law that he was called to administer.
The stated purpose was to show the king that he was God’s servant, called to administer a law that had already been revealed earlier. He was not to make up his own laws. If a case came up which had no precedent, then he was to pray that the Spirit would reveal the underlying principle and intent in the mind of God.
Another interesting fact brought up in the passage above is that he was to learn the law so that he would not think that he was better than his countrymen, the common people of the land. Obviously, this shows that the proper understanding of the law brings with it a sense of humility and not pride. This comes with learning to be a faithful servant and steward of the Kingdom.
Usurping the Kingdom, then, would have the opposite effect upon the king. If the king thought that he was given the Kingdom as his personal property and inheritance, then he could easily develop a prideful attitude. Israel’s history was full of such examples.
The Kings of the United Kingdom of Israel
We are not told specifically whether or not King Saul transcribed a copy of the Book of the Law (Deuteronomy) before he began to rule Israel. He certainly did not do so prior to his coronation, because his rise to the throne took place in just one week’s time. If he had written a copy of the law during the first year of his reign, it is doubtful if he would have begun to misuse his position as early as his second year (1 Sam. 13:1).
Certainly, David must have made a copy of the law. His love for the law is expressed everywhere in the Psalms. He writes in Psalm 19,
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether. 10 They are more to be desired than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
No one could pen such words without a deep knowledge, understanding, and appreciation for the law that comes with daily study and meditation. The contrast between David and Saul are thus manifest in Scripture. Saul was a type of the Church, having been crowned on the day of “wheat harvest,” or Pentecost, while David was a type of the Overcomers, having been crowned on the 59th Jubilee from Adam. This prophesies of the current mindset today, as we contrast the church with the overcomers. Their callings are as distinct as between Saul and David.
Solomon started out quite well, though nothing is said about him writing for himself a personal copy of the law. Yet at least half of his 40-year rule was spent usurping the authority that God had given him.
The Later Kings of Judah
Rehoboam reigned 17 years (2 Chron. 12:13), verse 14 says of him,
14 And he did evil because he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.
Was this perhaps because he refused to make his own copy of the law of God? Surely it was not lost so soon. At any rate, one of his first acts was to build two golden calves (1 Kings 12:28), which ensured that the kingdom would ultimately be destroyed by the judgment of God. We also read in 1 Kings 14:24,
24 And there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel.
When Rehoboam died, his son Abijah reigned 3 years over the Kingdom of Judah (2 Chron. 13:2). Asa then took the throne and reigned 41 years. In the 15th year of his reign (2 Chron. 15:10), the Lord sent to him a prophet named Azariah with a call to turn back to the God of Israel. We read of this in 2 Chron. 15:2, 3,
2 And he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: the Lord is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you. 3 And for many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without [the] law.
This indicates that the Book of the Law had already been lost by the 15th year of Asa, which was just 35 years after the death of Solomon. After this, the Book of the Law is not mentioned again for about a century. We read of King Amaziah of Judah in 2 Kings 14:5, 6,
5 Now it came about, as soon as the kingdom was firmly in his hand, that he killed his servants who had slain the king, his father. 6 But the sons of the slayers he did not put to death, according to what is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, as the Lord had commanded saying, “The fathers shall not be put to death for the sons, nor the sons be put to death for the fathers; but each shall be put to death for his own sin.”
Apparently, this king had access to a Book of the Law. We do not know if he had actually made a copy for himself, but at least he followed the Law by not putting to death the children of his father’s murderers. Since such massacres were common and assumed to be within the inherent rights of a king, this remarkable example suggests that a Book of the Law was at least available to study.
About a century later, King Hezekiah came to the throne in Jerusalem. He apparently possessed a copy of the law, because he decreed that the Passover feast should be kept again. It had not been kept for a long time, or at least not “as it was written” (2 Chron. 30:5). He knew the Passover law in its smallest details, indicating that he had done some serious study of a written book.
Hezekiah survived the Assyrian invasion, although the Kingdom of Israel to their north was not so fortunate. Even so, his son Manasseh was one of the most wicked kings that Judah had ever experienced. He reigned 55 years, but toward the end of his reign he was captured by an Assyrian king, who put him into a Babylonian prison.
The Assyrian king, by whom he was carried captive to Babylon, was probably Ashurbanipal, who crushed his rebellious brother Shamash-shumukin, king of Babylon, about 647 B.C. and placed the forfeited crown on his own head. Manasseh repented and was after a time restored to his kingdom. He put away the idols which had been his ruin, and restored the worship of Jehovah. [A Dictionary of the Bible, by John D. Davis, p. 472]
His son, Josiah, then came to the throne. He was a righteous king. In the 13th year of his reign, Jeremiah began to prophesy as a young man. Jeremiah was the main prophet of Judah in the days that Babylon overthrew Assyria and then conquered Jerusalem.
Hilkiah Finds the Book of the Law
During the reign of Josiah, he authorized Hilkiah, the high priest in Jerusalem, to clean the trash out of the temple and reinstate the worship of Yahweh. In doing so, he found a long-lost copy of the Book of the Law. This occurred about a century after the reign of Hezekiah, so it is likely that the Law had been lost since the early days of Manasseh’s 55-year reign. 2 Kings 22:8-11 says.
18 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... 11 And it came about when the king heard the words of the book of the law, that he tore his clothes.
The name Hilkiah carries a numeric value of 153. He represents the “sons of God,” because beni h'elohim also has a numeric value of 153. In this sense, Hilkiah is a prophetic type of those who are king-priests of the Order of Melchizedek.
The loss of this Book prophesies of those portions of the Church that would put away the law of God and “lose” it in that sense. Hilkiah’s discovery is an allegory of the overcomers finding the law as they clean up the Church and institute reformation and understanding.
In that sense, the story of Hilkiah has New Testament application, and so the numeric value of his name is very significant.
They found this book of the law while they were taking inventory of the temple silver (2 Kings 22:4; 2 Chron. 34:14). So it is significant that Shaphan's name means “hidden treasure.” This is how his name is translated in Psalm 17:14, “and whose belly Thou dost fill with Thy treasure.” The King James version says, “whose belly thou fillest with Thy hid treasure.” The silver was the temple treasure, no doubt, but the book of the law was the REAL hidden treasure that was lost in the debris of the temple.
Shaphan has a numeric value of 430, which is the number of years between the covenants with Abraham and Moses (Gal. 3:17). Hence, when Shaphan read the law to King Josiah, it was as if the king was once again leading Israel out of Egyptian bondage under Moses. In fact, we read in 2 Kings 23:2 that King Josiah “read in their hearing all the words of the book of the covenant, which was found in the house of the Lord.”
This is “the book of the covenant” that was given to Israel by God through Moses 430 years after the promise to Abraham. Verse 3 then says,
3 And the king stood by [on] the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant.
The “pillar” was the rock that “followed them” out of Egypt (1 Cor. 10:4). It was the rock that Jacob anointed in Gen. 28:18. That “anointed” (christened) rock was Christ, and Joseph became its custodian, or “shepherd” (Gen. 49:24). It was later used as a Coronation Stone (2 Kings 11:14) to signify that the kings ruled by the authority of Jesus Christ.
Our Job as Priests of God
It is our job description as “sons of God” to read the Book of the Law to the kings and political leaders of the world, so that they will know how to resolve these very serious problems. If we are schooled in the law, led by the Spirit, and know the mind of Christ, we will have virtually all of the solutions at our finger tips. We are the Hilkiahs of today, as well as the Shaphans, called to present God's point of view.
This is currently seen as a contrarian viewpoint. In fact, this too is prophesied in the story, because 430 is based upon the number 43, which means “contention.”
The Number 43 Means “Contention”
The 43rd time that Isaac is mentioned is in Gen. 26:20, where he is seen contending for the well of Esek. The 43rd time Jerusalem is mentioned is in 2 Sam. 20:7, where David’s army went out to pursue Sheba, who was contending with David for the throne. In the end a woman suggests that the dispute could end if Sheba’s head were thrown over the city wall. Verse 18 says,
18 Then she spoke, saying, “Formerly they used to say, ‘They will surely ask advice at Abel,’ and thus they ended the dispute.”
In the New Testament, the 43rd time that Jesus’ name is mentioned in the book of Luke is found on the mount of transfiguration in Luke 9:33,
33 And it came about, as these were parting from Him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”—not realizing what he was saying.
At this, the divine voice from the cloud contended with Peter, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”
The 43rd time that Peter is mentioned in the New Testament is in Acts 5:29, where we find him contending with the high priest,
29 But Peter and the apostles answered and said, “We must obey God rather than men.”
The 43rd time that Paul’s name is mentioned is in Acts 18:9, 10,
9 And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.”
Once again, the topic is about the people contending with Paul over the gospel of the Kingdom.
We should not be contentious in our character, but we are certainly called to contend with those who disagree with God. While most people present the teachings of men, we represent God. The world views this as being contentious.
While we cannot force others to believe as we believe, it is our job as sons of God to represent our Father, His character, and His views of right and wrong, sin and righteousness. At some point in history, I believe, the kings of the earth will follow the path of Josiah and will renew the covenant with God, while standing upon the pillar of Jesus Christ.
We are on the winning side.
It was in the 18th year of Josiah that the Book of the Law was discovered by Hilkiah (2 Kings 22:3). This was 623 B.C., and it was the 16th Jubilee from the Jordan crossing. When Josiah heard the Law, he immediately decreed that the Passover was to be kept. This was Josiah’s Great Passover in 2 Chronicles 35:17-29.
This happened very early in the ministry of Jeremiah, who was Hilkiah’s son (Jer. 1:1). Hence, Jeremiah prophesied to the people of Judah from this Great Passover until after the fall of Jerusalem.
Josiah instituted a great reformation as a prophetic type of what we will yet see in our own time. He destroyed the altars of Baal (2 Kings 23:4), stopped the sacrifice of babies in Topheth (valley of the son of Hinnom outside Jerusalem). When this is fulfilled in our time, it will indicate the end of the abortion clinics, which today offer up children to worship of Molech.
Josiah then went north to Bethel, where he broke down the altar of the golden calf located there (vs. 15).
16 Now when Josiah turned, he saw the graves that were there on the mountain, and he sent and took the bones from the graves and burned them on the altar and defiled it according to the word of the Lord which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these things. 17 Then he said, “What is this monument that I see?” And the men of the city told him, “It is the grave of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel.” 18 And he said, “Let him alone; let no one disturb his bones.
This overthrow of the altar at Bethel was prophesied 300 years earlier by a nameless prophet. 1 Kings 13:2 says,
2 And he cried against the altar by the word of the Lord, and said, “O altar, altar, thus says the Lord, Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and human bones shall be burned on you.”
King Jeroboam attempted to stop the prophet, but when he stretched out his hand, it “dried up, so that he could not draw it back to himself” (1 Kings 13:4). In spite of this, Jeroboam did not repent of setting up the golden calves in Bethel and Dan. Yet 300 years later, this prophecy was fulfilled by Josiah.
Josiah died too early for his reformation to remain in effect, for it was God’s intent to send both Israel and Judah into captivity. Even so, we will soon see this prophetic type fulfilled in modern Josiahs, Hilkiahs, and Shaphans.