The Physical is Symptomatic of the Spiritual (2 Chron 34:8-14)
Eighteen years into Josiah’s reign as king, he initiated the work of repairing the house of the Lord (2 Chronicles 34:8). No king had taken on the work of restoring the temple (Manasseh did repair the altar—33:16) since Hezekiah. That was ninety-five years ago! One of the reasons would obviously be a lack of funding. Yet, a lack of funding can often be traced back to a much deeper problem—a lack of spiritual focus.
Think about it. A parent who neglects the needs of their child is not just guilty of physical crime but lacks the love true spirituality generates. A fellow Christian who refuses to give food or shelter to a needy widow or orphan in their midst is not just physically insulting them but portraying a spiritual void. A community with boarded-up windows and graffiti-stained houses is not just suffering from physical deterioration, but there is likely some pervasive spiritual degradation too. Likewise, Israel’s physical neglect of the temple, along with other behaviors, was simply symptomatic of a much deeper issue—they were not spiritually plugged in to God’s Word.
How is it we might know this? Read the context in 2 Chronicles 34:8-11,14,
“In the eighteenth year of his reign, when he [Josiah] had purged the land and the temple, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz the recorder, to repair the house of the Lord his God. 9 When they came to Hilkiah the high priest, they delivered the money that was brought into the house of God, which the Levites who kept the doors had gathered from the hand of Manasseh and Ephraim, from all the remnant of Israel, from all Judah and Benjamin, and which they had brought back to Jerusalem. 10 Then they put it in the hand of the foremen who had the oversight of the house of the Lord; and they gave it to the workmen who worked in the house of the Lord, to repair and restore the house. 11 They gave it to the craftsmen and builders to buy hewn stone and timber for beams, and to floor the houses which the kings of Judah had destroyed…14 Now when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given by Moses” (NKJV).
In this passage, Josiah gives the oversight of the repair and funding of the temple to several trustworthy men. They begin purchasing the materials and hiring out the workers necessary to accomplish the job. Yet, what did they find as they begin purging the temple rooms of items overrun with ninety-five years of clutter? They find “the book of the law of the Lord given by Moses” (34:14). This is unimaginable when God’s Word is so easily accessible to us. Yet, in Israel, a rare copy of the Law of Moses was relegated to a temple junk room. The neglect of God’s Word will lead to neglect in many areas—including our funding of God’s work both local and abroad. When the spiritual life is in tune with God’s Word, the physical behaviors God expects of His people will follow!