Tag Archives: Hezekiah

Chapter-a-Day 2 Chronicles 32

Some time later Hezekiah became deathly sick. He prayed to God and was given a reassuring sign. 2 Chronicles 32:24 (MSG)

I was awake early this morning. My brain was buzzing with anxious thoughts. Like Hezekiah and Jerusalem, I feel besieged. As I lay in the pre-dawn hours, pleading for sleep to return, my mind recounted troubling headlines and disappointing events.

This morning, I stand post on the wall of life and hear discouragement’s taunts. I shore up my heart with God’s promises. I remind my anxious heart of God’s track record of faithfulness.

Today, I’m praying for a reassuring sign.

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Chapter-a-Day 2 Chronicles 29

“Children, don’t drag your feet in this! God has chosen you to take your place before him to serve in conducting and leading worship—this is your life work; make sure you do it and do it well.” 2 Chronicles 29:11 (MSG)

I was at rehearsal last night for our community theater’s production of Annie. It felt great to be rehearsing. I love it. I’ve been involved on stage most of my life. I was trained in theater all through junior high, high school and college. Then, I didn’t step foot on stage for sixteen years.

There is something inside you that is always out of sorts when you aren’t doing what you’re gifted and called to do.

Photo by Madison Vander Well

The people Hezekiah assembled before him were the men of the tribe of Levi, who were given responsibility for overseeing the temple and leading in worship. Everything in the nation was out of sorts. They hadn’t been doing what they’d been called upon to do, and until the Levites did their appointed work, and did it well, no one was going to experience the blessing of worship.

Do what you are gifted, called and given to do. Do it well.

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 37

The boss' office. Hezekiah took the letter from the hands of the messengers and read it. Then he went into the sanctuary of God and spread the letter out before God. Isaiah 37:14 (MSG)

In earlier years, as an employee, I would have different types of interaction with my boss. Sometimes, as with team meetings, I merely listened to the information or marching orders. There might be the occasional small talk conversation or pleasantry in passing. I might pick up the phone to call with a quick question. There were times, however, when I had an issue which required a deeper conversation. I might make an appointment so I could have my employers dedicated attention for a period of time. I would prepare and spread out my issue or question in great detail.

Our relationship with God is often like that of any other authority figure in our lives. Sometimes I sit back and take in what God has to tell me. Sometimes my conversation with God is not much more than small talk. I might call him up in a popcorn prayer to ask a quick question. And then there are times when I find myself in Hezekiah's position. My situation calls for more earnest conversation.

I like the way Hezekiah approached God. He went to the sanctuary and "spread the letter out." I'm reminded of Jesus going to the mountain side in the early morning hours. Sometimes it's good for me to physically go to a place where I can have a private appointment with God. It's good to take the time to "spread out" my thoughts and feelings in detail.

If I made an appointment with my employer and spread out my issue in a private setting, I think I received a better hearing than if I tried to say something in passing or catching him in the hallway. The quality of the response I received was generally better as well. Why would it work any differently with God?

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Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 36

Under seige. The three men were silent. They said nothing, for the king had already commanded, "Don't answer him." Isaiah 36:21 (MSG)

It was common in Isaiah's day for conquering armies to send a "mouthpiece" to brag, boast and tear down the confidence of the beseiged city's people. It was a form of psychological warfare. If the city was scared enough, they might surrender and everyone would be delivered from bloodshed, starvation, and, potentially, years of tedious stand-off.  Armies would hurl insults and paint gruesome word pictures to try and convince the citizens of the town to surrender. Isaiah 36 is a great historical record of what this sounded like. We see this same tactic used through recorded history. Shakespeare's King Henry V did a little trash talking of his own outside the city gates of Harfleur:

If not, why, in a moment look to see
The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand
Defile the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters;
Your fathers taken by the silver beards,
And their most reverend heads dash'd to the walls,
Your naked infants spitted upon pikes,
Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused
Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry
At Herod's bloody-hunting slaughtermen.
What say you? will you yield, and this avoid,
Or, guilty in defence, be thus destroy'd?

Henry V Act 3 scene III

Today, these same tactics are used through television, radio, and the internet to lay seige to ideas, faith, and world-views. There is a time and place for reasoned conversation and response. I am reminded today by King Hezekiah's command to his advisors that sometimes the best response is to say nothing and let God have the last word.

God's Message says that there is a time to speak and a time to be silent. Wisdom is often required to know which time you are in at any given moment. God, help me to know today when to speak, and when to be silent.

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Chapter-a-Day 2 Kings 21

Madison Tom & Herman Vander Well c. 1993 LF Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king. He ruled for fifty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hephzibah. In God's judgment he was a bad king—an evil king. He reintroduced all the moral rot and spiritual corruption that had been scoured from the country when God dispossessed the pagan nations in favor of the children of Israel. 2 Kings 21:1-2 (MSG)

Last night my wife and I had a friend, a professor from Central College, over for dinner. It was a wonderful evening. I thought of my grandfather, who graduated from Central in 1929. In 1927, he became a charter member of a fraternal theatrical organization which still operates within the college's theater department. I was not aware of this when I moved here six years ago.I happened upon his signature on the group's charter hanging on a wall. How ironic that eighty years later I would move to the same area and be involved with the theatrical community he helped get started. 

I look back at the generations before me, and I feel fortunate. While no one is perfect, I can look back through my father's family and my mother's family and recognize grandparents and great-grandparents who sought to live right and parent well. There are key individuals who desired to leave a legacy of faith and life which I recognize in my own life and, I pray, will continue to be lived out in my children and the generations to come.

This resonates as I think about Manasseh in today's chapter. His father, Hezekiah, was listed among the "good" kings but his legacy, realized in his son, was unparalleled evil. When confronted by Isaiah with the prophecy that his descendents would be submitted to a terrible captivity, Hezekiah's response was completely self-centered: "Well, I'll be gone by then." The first ten years of Manasseh's reign, he was co-regent with his father Hezekiah. They shared the throne as Hezekiah battled his illness. Hezekiah had every opportunity to teach and mentor his son, but he left little or no imprint of faith and righteousness.

Chapter-a-Day 2 Kings 20

The whines of a child. "Go back and tell Hezekiah, prince of my people, 'God's word, Hezekiah! From the God of your ancestor David: I've listened to your prayer and I've observed your tears. I'm going to heal you. In three days you will walk on your own legs into The Temple of God. 2 Kings 20:5 (MSG)

When I was a kid, the representative of a prestigious private school on the east coast came to speak to my class. It was a mesmerizing presentation and, for some reason, I got this silly notion that I should move away from home and attend the very expensive and very distant academy. I still remember approaching my parents that night and pleading my case for why I should move away from home and attend the private boarding school (at their expense). I should give my parents credit for not laughing to my face.

Sometimes I think of prayer as a word picture. I picture all of these immature little children pleading their self-centered desires before their father. At the time, my parents dismissal of the strong desire I felt to attend private school seemed callous and unfeeling. I look back now and realize what a wacky idea it was. It would not have been good for me or for my family.

Sometimes God answers prayer with startling efficiency and potency, as with Hezekiah in today's chapter. Other times, I feel like I plead incessantly with little response. It's good for me to remember that I petition God out of the limited and self-centered perspective of my momentary circumstances and desires. God responds to my prayer out of an all-encompassing wisdom rooted in the omniscient knowledge of who I was, who I am, and who I will ultimately come to be.

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Chapter-a-Day 2 Kings 19

The Angel of the Lord. And it so happened that that very night an angel of God came and massacred 185,000 Assyrians. When the people of Jerusalem got up next morning, there it was—a whole camp of corpses! 2 Kings 19:35 (MSG)

When we left the previous chapter, the city of Jerusalem was beseiged by the dreaded Assyrian army and the envoys of the Assyrian king were trash-talking to King Hezekiah's representatives. I mentioned that the key to breaking a seige was perseverance (in the face of a painful season with little provision), a strong will (to stand against the arrogant taunts the enemy continually spoke to break you psychologically), and a Deliverer. In today's chapter, we read (a' la Paul Harvey), the rest of the story.

King Hezekiah went first to consult with God's prophet, Isaiah who assures the King that God is not going to let the Assyrian King take Jerusalem. If you want to read more specifically regarding God's message through Isaiah concerning Assyria, read Isaiah 10:5-19 and Isaiah 37. King Hezekiah responds by going to the temple, bows down before God, and praying like he'd never prayed before.

The next day the Assyrian camp was littered with 185,000 corpses. The Deliverer, the Angel of the Lord, brought about a miraculous and unforeseen outcome. The event of the Assyrian army's demise was reported by other historians of antiquity. The Greek historian Herodatus wrote of the event and explained that bubonic plague had rapidly spread through the camp. It brings to mind the Angel of the Lord spreading the plagues through Egypt in delivering the Israelites from captivity in Egypt.

I love the story of Jerusalem's dramatic and miraculous deliverance. At the same time, I think about the seasons of life in which I feel beseiged on all sides. It's perplexing why God dramtically delivers in some moments, and remains agonizingly silent in others. I look back, and I understand that seasons of drought and pain have ultimately produced good things in my life like perseverance, reliance, wisdom, faith, endurance, and humility. Experience has taught me that God's purpose is at work in my pain.

Nevertheless, I prefer those moments when God miraculously delivers us from our troubles.

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