II Kings 22 describes a major renovation of the old Jewish Temple. During the repair process, the workers stumble across “the book of the law.” This is a shocking discovery for everybody: the workers, the high priest, and especially the King, Josiah. Upon reading the book of law from the Lord, Josiah tears his clothes in anguish: “Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our ancestors did not obey the words of this book” (II Kings 22:13).
In coarser words – Oh @%&#!
Strangely enough, as I was reading this passage, I immediately thought of one of my favorite novels, The Sea Wolf, by Jack London. In short, a rich, educated man, Humphrey Van Weyden, is swept out to sea only to be picked up by a seal-hunting ship, Ghost. The captain of this vessel, Wolf Larsen, is a rough, grisly man who sees life only as a struggle, a battle. So when “Hump” stumbles into the captain’s quarters he is shocked to see volumes of poetry, classical literature, and philosophical treatises. There is more to Wolf Larsen than meets the eye…
In the course of the plot, the cook steals a wad of cash from Hump. Hump tells the captain that his money is gone. Wolf says, “‘Was mine,’ you should have said, not ‘is mine.'” Hump replies, “It is a question, not of grammar, but of ethics.”
Wolf pauses, then replies, “This is the first time I have heard the word ‘ethics’ in the mouth of a man. You and I are the only men on this ship who know its meaning.”
Wow! King Josiah and Wolf Larsen meet!
So what’s the point of these literary connections? They are both confronted with something that describes how they should live. One hears the word “ethics” for the first time, the other reads about it for the first time. Now, chances are that you have probably heard the word ‘ethics’ before. And chances are you own “the book of the law” (probably Deuteronomy). So don’t be surprised when you hear about ethics, morality, or living a holy life. That puts you behind the curve.
You can jump light years ahead of Wolf or Josiah by living ethically, living morally, by living with Christ.