While I am recharging my batteries, take a look at this post from the past. It is just as relevant now as it was then.
Read 2 Kings 18-20; 2 Chronicles 29-32
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Hezekiah welcomed them; he showed them his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his whole armory, all that was found in his storehouses. There was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezekiah did not show them.” (Isaiah 39:2 NLT)
When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.
Part 81: Hezekiah. I love the story of Hezekiah. For me it proves that God is at work at all times and in all places. Hezekiah is evidence that no matter what, God can and will break through to the hearts that are open to God. Hezekiah is proof that “guilt by association” is nothing more than a logical fallacy. Just because one is born to a father or mother who is wicked, unjust and swayed by evil, does not mean that one will automatically go down that road.
King Hezekiah was the son of King Ahaz who, as was discussed in the last devotion, was a wicked king who followed the ways of evil, rather than following God. Ahaz was also proof that just because one has good parents does not mean that one will end up being good or righteous. Let’s call the stories of Ahaz and Hezekiah to be ancient myth-busters.
I am not sure how Hezekiah came to be in relationship with God, having a parent like his dad. Let’s not forget that his dad made his “first-born” son “pass through the fire.” As was mentioned in the last devotion, there is debate as to what that means. The most common interpretation, and the one that the New Living Translation goes with, is that his sacrificed his first-born son to the Canaanite god Molech by burning him. That would mean that Hezekiah would have been the second-born son and next in line for the throne.
With that said, it could also mean that he put his first-born son through a pagan initiation rite involving fire, dedicating him to the god Molech. If that was the case, Hezekiah would have been that son. Either way, Hezekiah clearly grew up detesting the ways of his father and found his faith in YHWH, the God of his ancestor David.
What that meant is that Hezekiah had all of the shrines and idols throughout Judah destroyed. He brought the people of Israel back to the one, true God by strictly enforcing that the worship only the LORD and that they do so only in the LORD’s Temple. He also thought ahead and began to work for the safety of Jerusalem. When Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and exiled many of its leaders, King Hezekiah had already begun fortifying Jerusalem, ensuring that the city would be harder to take.
That is not to say that the king was perfect, after all, he was a human being. Isaiah recorded that the king was visited by envoy from the Babylonian Empire. He was so flattered by the visit that he let it go to the place of vanity and began to show off all of his wealth and power to the visitors. This, of course, got fully reported back to the King of Babylon. That empire would be setting its sights on Jerusalem and would eventually conquer her.
The challenge for us is this: even when we are following God, we are still not immune from sin and vanity is the sin, along with pride, that tends to get us when we least expect it. Let us not worry about what people think of us. Let us not boast so that people can think we are all that and a bag of chips; rather, let us be humble and remember that the only One we need to please is God. The challenge is to LOVE GOD and to keep our vanity at bay so that we can serve God and others in LOVE and in TRUTH. Humanly speaking, this may be impossible, but with God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26).
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us.” – Jane Austen
Lord, steer me away from vanity and shelter me in humility. Amen.
Click here to view today’s devotion.
Read Acts 9:1-8, 17-18
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
“This is just going to be a great day!” I yelled out in my head. It was an hour before I was supposed to be at work. The last thing I needed was a flat tire, and it was one of the brand new tires too! Go figure. Now what was I going to do? I sat there staring helplessly at the tire. “What am I going to do?” After a moment or too of self-pity, I came to the following definitive answer: “You are going to change that tire and put on the spare. That’s what you are going to do.”
In changing that tire, my daughter got to see her daddy at work and said, “Dad, I didn’t know you knew how to do that.” I smiled and fondly remembered when I was a kid and I first saw my dad changing a tire. He was like superman to me and I felt safe around him, because he could fix anything. I smiled again, thinking that my daughter just shared in that same experience I had as a kid, and I while I certainly can’t fix everything, what a blessing to share in that experience with her. What a blessing!
Have you ever been in situations where things just don’t seem to be going as planned and you are at a loss as to what to do? Have you ever been so flabbergasted at the situation that you find yourself momentarily paralyzed it? Perhaps you’ve stood there, jaw agape, asking “What am I supposed to do now?” Or perhaps you asked, “Why is this happening to me?” We’ve all been there and have asked those questions.
Later that day, I happened to read an article about a teenage boy who went missing on New Year’s Day. A photographer for USA Today, was supposed to be at the White House, ended up with nothing to do as the President was still on vacation. With all of the unexpected extra time, she walked the streets trying capture pictures to express how cold it wass and took a shot of a man bundled up next to a sewer vent trying to keep warm. As it turns out, that man was the missing teen and when his parents saw the picture they notified the police who then found and reunited the teen with his family.
That story caused me, and it should cause all of us to pause, especially in our “why me moments.” The photojournalist could have complained about not being where she expected to be…she could have complained about all of the extra time; however, she accepted the change of plans and ended up saving a life in the process. Rather than be paralyzed by the relatively trivial circumstances, she chose to do something constructive with her time and, for the boy and his family, it paid off.
Today’s challenge is for you to rise up out of the midst of your circumstances and do something positive in the midst of the changes surrounding you. Like Paul on the road to Damascus, we never know when we will run into life altering obstacles that stand in our way, blocking us from reaching the destinations we have chosen for ourselves. We can look at the obstacle as a curse and a hindrance, but where will that lead us? Rather, God is calling us to see the potential blessing in our changed plans and in our circumstances. Sure, the circumstances themselves may not be welcome; however, God’s ability to work good through all things, and in spite of all circumstances, is a very welcome indeed! So smile and see the hidden blessing in your circumstances.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Turn your scars into stars” – Dr. Robert Schuller
Lord, open my eyes to the hidden blessing in all things. Make me a hidden blessing to others. Amen.