Finding an Old Book
And Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan, and he read it. And Shaphan the secretary came to the king, and reported to the king, “Your servants have emptied out the money that was found in the house and have delivered it into the hand of the workmen who have the oversight of the house of the LORD.” Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read it before the king.
When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his clothes. And the king commanded Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam the son of Shaphan, and Achbor the son of Micaiah, and Shaphan the secretary, and Asaiah the king’s servant, saying, “Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.”
(2 Kings 22:8–13 ESV)
To give a little context — this story comes near the end of the book of Kings in the Old Testament. The people had stopped worshiping God as was prescribed in the Torah. One of the high priests found it, read it to the king, and there was a season of repentance in Judah because they realized how far they had gone astray.
This seems relevant today given how we seem to view laws. Justice Thomas recently wrote that the Supreme Court no longer rules based on the Constitution, but is instead informed by politics. Director Comey made it clear that the law doesn’t apply to someone like Secretary Clinton in the same way that it applies to common folks. There is talk about an investigation of the Clinton Foundation, but that bringing it down would effectively bring down most of the federal government. I started to wonder what that would look like. I can imagine a few Congressional staffers thinking out loud.
“So what do we do now? How do we form a government without all the bureaucracy? I wish that there was some sort of document we could use to guide us.”
“Wait a minute — what’s this?” as the second staffer pages through a book. “We the people…”
“Hey that’s a good start. The people are too disconnected. We need something that is for the people. All of them. Black, white, brown, Asian, Jew, Christian, Muslim, atheist. It should be for everyone.”
“…in order to form a more perfect union…”
“Hell, yeah! Our union is a mess right now. Blue states and red states hate each other. We’re barely a union anymore.”
“You hear about the crap in Louisiana? We need justice! We have victims all over this country and they are crying out for justice. Yes, let’s do something with justice!”
“…ensure domestic tranquility…”
“I guess no more Trump rallies! Seriously, we need some domestic tranquility. How in the world are we supposed to do that?”
“…provide for the common defense…”
“We need some kind of military. We need to be able to defend ourselves. We probably don’t need to be so busy abroad, but we need to be able to defend ourselves since there are plenty of countries that want what we have. I’m sure that the Russians aren’t done with us yet.”
“…promote the general welfare…”
“What, like food stamps?”
“I don’t think it means that. I think that it means that the government should exist in such a way as to create an environment where everyone can be successful. It probably does mean having ways to take care of people with nothing, but it is more about doing what it takes so that more folks can prosper.”
“That makes sense. I’m all for that. Who wouldn’t be?”
“…and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…”
“Yeah, I want that. I think that everyone wants that. So how does this document you found suggest we do that?”
“…do establish and ordain this Constitution of the United States of America.”
“Wow, this explains that song that my dad used to sing sometimes. I never knew where he got it from. We need to get the word out about this thing because it doesn’t seem like anyone has ever read it. What hashtag should I use?”
And thus the Constitution could be rediscovered. I don’t think that the government should be leading a spiritual revival. I don’t think that the government should be trying to actively “Make America Great Again.” I think that this document was absolutely brilliant. I love how it provided means for modifying it as we have done 27 times. If we need to modify it again we can do that through the electoral process.
Is it too much to ask that we go back to this brilliant document rather than the whims of a few? Is it too much to ask that we scale back the massive bureaucracy that is in place and let states, cities, and private enterprise fill a lot of these roles? It probably is, but I can dream.