Israel’s high priest Hilkiah was looking for money in the temple to pay the men repairing the temple (22:1-7) when he found a Bible (v.8). He read it, then read it to Israel’s king (v.9,10). Calling it “a” book suggests he didn’t know what it was. That means Israel’s priests must have stopped reading the Bible to all Israel every 7 years as Moses said (Deut.31:9-12), and that led to neglecting it altogether.
When King Josiah tore his clothes after hearing the Bible read (II Ki.22:11), that suggests that he’d never read it before either. That means the kings before him had stopped reading it every day as Moses told them to do (Deut.17:14-19), and that too led to neglecting it altogether. If pastors disobey I Timothy 4:13, the Bible may be lost to us as well.
Josiah rent his clothes because he’d just heard the Bible say that God would punish Israel in some very specific ways if they disobeyed Him, and when he looked around, he saw those specific punishments, and knew that God was judging them. We’re not under the law that said God would punish His people for disobedience (Rom.6:14), so even if you do see the specific judgments of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 in your life, or in your land, you can know that God is not judging you. You’ll still reap what you sow (Gal.6:7), but that’s just the natural consequence of your sin.
The king sent men to ask the prophetess Huldah about what he’d heard in the Bible (IIKi.22:12-14). She told the king that God was about to send even more punishment (v.15,16), because they were worshipping other gods (v.17).
Christians today do too! Many of our Pentecostal brethren worship tongues, many of our Baptist brethren worship baptism, and 7th Day Adventists worship the sabbath. But the worst idolatry is found among grace believers, many of whom worship the grace message. If you don’t agree with
them on every detail of the grace message, they judge you.
For example, church anniversaries are observances of a church’s birthday, and every time birthdays are mentioned in the Bible, someone dies (Gen.40:20-22; Mt.14:6,10). So some grace believers don’t observe birthdays. Paul is on neither side in this issue (Rom.14:5).
Paul also doesn’t care if you eat meat or herbs (14:1,2). God told Adam to eat herbs (Gen.1:29), but later told Noah he could eat meat (9:3), so we know we can eat “all things” too (Rom.14:2). But Paul adds not to “judge” or “despise” brethren who feel differently about this (14:3).
When grace believers do judge or despise one another over these issues, they are judging “another man’s servant” (14:4), for our brethren in Christ are all His servants. He will judge us at the Judgment Seat of Christ (14:10). If we judge one another in the meantime, we are virtually pushing Him off His judge’s bench and saying, “I got this. I can do a better job of judging my brethren than You can.” You wouldn’t do that at the Judgment Seat of Christ, so don’t do it now!
God is able to make that brother “stand” in that day (14:4). Grace believers often think—and sometimes say to other Christians—“Just wait until we stand before the Lord. He’ll straighten you out, and then you’ll believe as I do!” But Paul says “he shall be holden up” by God in that day, not you.
That’s because no matter what your position is when it comes to issues like this, God is on the side of grace—and we should be too! We’re all smiles when we read Romans 1-13 where we learn how gracious God has been to us. Our smiles sometimes fade though when we read Chapter 14, where God says to be as gracious to others as He’s been to us! But if you miss that point, you miss the point of the Book of Romans, for you miss the culmination of Romans in Chapter 14. And you missed the point of the grace message.