There are a lot of great people in the Bible.
But to be honest, there are times I really want to know more about them. I mean, I want some behind the scenes sort of info. Like what happened during the in-between times that pointed someone this way, or that. What caused a shift in perspective; what made them choose to follow God... or not.
Hezekiah is one such example. You see, the Bible tells us that, He was successful in whatever he undertook. And while that's and amazing statment, and I'd love that to be said of my life. What's more impressive is understanding who his father was.
Because there are losers in the Bible as well.
And Hezekiah's father, Ahaz was one of them. This is not my opinion... but God's
Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem sixteen years. Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord his God. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel and even sacrificed his son in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.
2 Kings 16:2-4
Maybe simply knowing his brother was sacrificed to an idol caused Hezekiah to desire to be different from his father. Or the fact that Ahaz closed the Temple of God and filled the entire city of Jerusalem and all the surrounding areas with altars and idols forcing the people to worship foreign gods.
Could not having the choice of God cause you to want Him more? Or was there someone in the palace who secretly worshped Yahweh? What about his mother, a priest, a servant... was there anyone from whom he could have learned?
Can God, Himself be the only influence?
Or is it possible that one hungry enough for God could simply cry out from the emptiness inside and He would speak to them? These are the wonderings and wanderings we will never know. The in-betweens that cause my heart curiosity as I read of those who chase after God. And they encourage me to chase even harder still.
Yahweh has strengthened me
This is the meaning of Hezekiah's name.
For he trusted the Lord.
He held fast to the Lord.
He kept the Lord's commands.
And the Lord was with Him...
then Hezekiah was successful
in all he undertook.
Notice the order of events, as it is so important. For we cannot seek success in what we do before we seek the presence of God. I'm beginnig to believe that Hezekiah wasn't looking so much to be a great king, as he was simply yearing for God who had been banished by his father. There had been a void, a darkness, an empty place that only God could fill.
All too often...
I sense this in our world today.
Darkness trying to dampen the light.
Tolerance of all things
drowning out the truth.
And we begin to conform,
to stumble into it.
But let us stand firm.
Let us trust in the Lord
Hold fast to His truth
Obey His commands.
Let us remain in His presence...
these are the keys to success.
Somedays I'm totally scatterbrained.
I can't keep a single train of thought going. It's like I'm running down rabbit trails all day long, for fear that I'll miss a good idea. But if I'd just stick with one long enough, I'd accomplish something; get something done and checked off my list.
When I take the time to reflect, I realize those are typically the days I didn't make a plan; didn't set my mind on a purpose. It's not that the things I was chasing were wrong or bad. They just weren't in line with my purpose. Or if they were, I didn't really take the time to define specifically what I want them to achieve toward that purpose.
That's why I need a rallying point.
I need one thing to focus on. One singular goal that's attainable, which all my tasks point toward so that I actually gain momentum instead of scattering my energy in too many directions. I need to finish one thing before I start something new. Otherwise I just end up each day feeling like a failure... again.
A rallying point is your mission, your purpose, against which you line up all your goals and tasks. If they don't fit the mission, take them off your list. Or, modify them so they do. But don't manipulate them to make them fit.
The Warrior's Banner can be one.
Isaiah spoke of one such rallying point when he prophesied of the Messiah. He said, 'the Root of Jesse would stand as a banner for the people to gather around.' A banner in his day was for the military to lift to a high place where the troops could see it. They would know where to show up for duty armed and ready to fight.
Jesus is the Root of Jesse. He is the seed; the descendant from the lineage of David, son of Jesse. And when He was lifted up on the cross for us, He conquered sin. Then He was raised to life as He defeated death and the grave as well.
Jesus, Himself said, 'And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.' John 12:32.
Jesus is our banner. And we as warriors are to rally around Him. Our purpose in this life is to fight for the cause of the Gospel. To spread the word... His word, so that all nations can know the saving power of what Jesus did on the cross.
It's not mine to lift up.
I am relieved that it's not my banner to lift up. Sometimes I think I have to do it alone. But then I realize that Jesus already did the hardest part. I'm simply supposed to rally around. To to the cheering. To be a warrior who fights the good fight. And there I can enjoy His glorious resting place.
Let us rest in that today!
Have you ever asked God for a sign?
Even if you never said anything out loud. Did you ever just think to yourself, if you're real God, have that person "do this" or "say that". Or maybe you needed know about making a decision. Have you challenged God to show you in some specific way?
I have. I've asked Him for signs more than once. Sometimes I saw the signs. Sometimes I didn't. Either way, it was always a scary proposition. Because whether you're a person of faith or not, fear gets in the way. I mean, who wants to test God and then get a lightening bolt, right?
What if God challenged you?
That's what happened to Ahaz. You see, there was this king long ago. He wasn't a man who followed after God. In fact he worshipped many other gods. But he sat on the throne of Judah and was in the lineage of David. (Matthew 1:9) This meant that the seed of the Messiah needed to come through him.
But Ahaz had a problem. There were some bigger, badder kings who were planning to come into Judah and takeover. So God sent the prophet Isaiah to give him some encouragement before the battle.
Isaiah's words from God were,
‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram...' Isaiah 7:4
Through Isaiah, God told Ahaz that this defeat would not happen and...
'If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.’ Isaiah 7:9
Finally, the prophet Isaiah's words ended by telling Ahaz to ASK God for a sign.
Ahaz had the GO AHEAD!
Ahaz was given a GREEN LIGHT!
Ahaz could ask for a sign without any fear or doubt because God told him to.
Yet Ahaz already had a plan in place. He had paid tribute to the evil King of Assyria to protect him. He had paid him with the treasures from the temple of God. So how convenient it was now to quote a faithful and religious sounding word to keep him from "testing" God. When in fact he most likely feared God the most.
I wonder how often I do this?
I get my ducks all lined up in a row. I plan things out, at my own expense. Even at the expense of others. And THEN I think (or someone suggests) I should put my faith in God. Like it's an afterthought.
"Oh yeah, I probably should have prayed about it." But I don't want to "test" God because that would be wrong. Sure, that sounds better. But isn't it really just my stubborn pride. Isn't it really that I'm planning to rely on my Plan A?
But God wasn't willing to rely on Ahaz' plan. Because He had a plan for salvation that needed to happen. And He wasn't going to let Ahaz ruin it.
God's plans are always better.
If Ahaz went through with his plan and was defeated, the line of David... the lineage of Judah, may have ended. Where would we be now without a Messiah? No Jesus... no salvation.
So God overruled Ahaz. He continued to speak through Isaiah and told Ahaz his sign anyway.
Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. Isaiah 7:13-14
How grateful I am that God was so stubborn with Ahaz. How grateful I am that He is so stubborn with me. That He does not let me get away with my own way... my own pride, my own reasoning. How grateful I am that God persisted in His plan to send Jesus as our Savior so that we could be saved from our own stubbornness and sin.
So in this today, I believe...
'If you do not stand firm in your faith,
you will not stand at all.’
The Word of God is training me
to have stubborn faith...
to stand firm in it.
Knowing that He stood firm for me.
He overcame evil for my good.
I too can stand firm in my faith
so that evil can be overcome!
Thank You, Lord for stubborn faith.
Help me to persist in this.
Give us all a sign today!
Let us KNOW, without doubt
that YOU are stubborn for us!
Check out more: