Re–forming ourselves

Looking at the world today, with its spiritual health in chronic condition it is not bad to take in consideration what happened in the old times and to look at the readings of today Sunday November the 2nd.

It was a difficult time for Hezekiah with the land suffering greatly as a result of his father’s failures as a spiritual leader. But Hezekiah was single-minded in what he purposed to do in Judah. His declaration “it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel,” was said with the realization of just how far the nation had fallen. He could see that it was not a holy nation before their God. There was a need for deep, far reaching change with the people. Initially there would be opposition, complacency and even mockers (30:10) but Hezekiah had faith that God would bless what he set out to do.

The Kings record (2 Kings 18:5-7) has this to say about this man:

– “he trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who went before him. For he held fast to the LORD, he did not depart from following Him”

and it continues

“The LORD was with him; he prospered wherever he went”. God, through Hezekiah brought about a great reformation in Judah, a time of refreshment for those who sought their God.

“20 And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah; and he wrought that which was good and right and {1} faithful before Jehovah his God. {1) Heb [faithfulness]} 21 And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.” (2 Chronicles 31:20-21 ASV)

Hezekiah is a tremendous example for us to look to. With “a purpose of heart” he continued to walk with his God throughout his reign. He continually scrutinised every aspect of his life as one ‘who trembled before God’s Word’. Like all of us, Hezekiah wasn’t without fault, he stumbled, made mistakes and wavered before certain trials, but in his mind, there was always only one path before him.

The writer to the Hebrews exhorts us (Hebrews 12:12)

“therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet.”

We should strengthen ourselves but also help others to be strong enough to go on the right path, up to the Kingdom of God.

Reform

2 November — Mark Vincent – Stirling

English: Roman custom of proclamation of emper...

Roman custom of proclamation of emperor on the shield. King Hezekiah. From Chludov Psalter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is an exhortation about reform, inspired by today’s reading from II Chronicles 31.  It had been desperately needed; Israel’s spiritual health was in chronic condition.  But thanks to the remarkable enthusiasm and leadership of King Hezekiah, the people had been galvanised into change.  In chapter 30 they had kept the Passover, and now, at the beginning of chapter 31 they bring their idols to destroy them:

“Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all.  Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.”  (v.1).

It was an act which showed initiative and determination.  It would also have involved a considerable amount of effort.  The verbs that are used are quite graphic: ‘break … in pieces’, ‘cut down’, ‘threw down’, ‘utterly destroyed’.  The action they took was drastic and decisive.

How do we bring this home to ourselves?  What would we have brought to cast upon the great pile of smashed images?  What bad habits and slovenliness have crept into our own lives that must be cut down?  What altars have been erected that must be thrown to the ground?

The physical activity of bringing idols and destroying them, of chopping down groves and throwing down altars must have had considerable power for those who were involved.  We rarely if ever have the opportunity to join in with something so graphic.  But perhaps this is our loss.  Reform may be no less necessary in my life or in yours.  To think about what (metaphorically) I might have brought to that pile of destruction is a very worthwhile exercise.

The trigger for this great change in Israel’s behaviour was, in large measure, the example and leadership of Hezekiah.  This is an instructive point.  The people were quite capable of making the sacrifices they made as they threw away their old lifestyle, but they needed a trigger or a catalyst to inspire them to do so.  They were not self-starters.  This highlights one of the reasons why we need instruction and exhortation on a regular basis.  It also highlights the way in which our own actions can serve to ignite discipleship and self-sacrifice in others.

Reform is about re – forming, forming or constructing something again.  We have to be careful, of course, that what we form is the right thing.  It is all very well bringing our idols to the trash, but if all we do is go back to our workshops and start building them again, then we may as well have spared ourselves the effort.  “For if I build again the things which I destroyed,” says Paul, “I make myself a transgressor.”  (Galatians 2 : 18).  He is referring to this very danger.

Instead, clearing out those things in life that ought not to be there is an opportunity for forming again those things which should – an opportunity to build again into our lives structures and habits, patterns of behaviour, which will help us on our journey to the kingdom.

Each of us has tremendous potential to do this, and to contribute to the brotherhood’s wider work and responsibility of manifesting Christ to the world in which we live.  Far more so, in fact, than we some times imagine.  This is exactly the point that comes out of II Chronicles 31.  The people surprised themselves and surprised their leaders, by the extent of the commitment and sacrifice that they were capable of when they put their minds to it.

This can be seen in the collection of the tithe later in the chapter:

“And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field: and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly … and laid them by heaps (margin: ‘heaps, heaps’) … And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD, and his people Israel.” (v.5,6,8).

The people responded with such generosity that it took four whole months to collect the mass of substance that they brought!  There was heaps of it, quite literally.  Charity, generosity, and spirituality overflowed; the people responded with all their might.

The heaps of provisions the people brought for the Lord’s service contrast with the heaps of destruction now strewn about the cities of Judah – the heaps of destroyed altars, idols, and groves.  On the one hand, we can bring things of the old way to be destroyed, and it is very important that we take this call seriously – but the Truth is not primarily an exercise in removing the negative. We each have good and positive things to bring, and this is a crucial element of discipleship.  We may surprise even ourselves by how much we can offer when we really put our minds to it.

As we reflect now on the sacrifice of Christ and the abundant provision he has made, it is up to us to bring our offering, obedience full and free, to respond with a full and open heart from the abundance, which God has given us.

+++

  • Assyrian Kings Insidious Spirit of Compromise (k2globalcommunicationsllc.wordpress.com)
    There is in The Lords Church, throughout all Christendom, a spirit so insidious, relentless, as to seem to even the well seasoned-christian [in so much that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:24 KJV] as reasonable.  The Spirit of Compromise.  This spirit works its evil by lies, incremental-ism, very rarely with large movement that would expose it for what it is, who is behind it and its goal.  When I drive past a Methodist church flying the perverts rainbow flag, not God’s Rainbow of Promise, Catholic Church goes full on sodomite, etc. The Lords Church steeped in Ecumenical-ism with Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Satanism, Judaism,  has serious issues brought about by the spirit of compromise and society suffers the consequences.
  • Zephaniah: The Day of the Lord Part 1 (joshuaasipper.wordpress.com)
    God’s Judgment on Judah (Southern Kingdom) In Nahum (which David did such a great job teaching) Go proclaims the fall of the Northern Kingdom (Israel), so by the time the Babylonian occupation and destruction come to Judah, Israel has already been basically obliterated by Assyria. So, when Zephaniah begins in Chapter 1, he gives a terrifying image of how God will destroy His people: vss 1-6 “The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, son of Gedaliah, son of Amariah, son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah.
    +
    Zephaniah highlights the obvious hypocrisy going on in Judah’s service toward God. Molech was an Ammonite god represented usually as a man with a bull’s head, to whom the people of Israel sacrificed their children. Molech was the antithesis of the one true God. So, when His people turned from Him to such an abomination, He simply couldn’t stand it!
  • Open Heavens Devotional Monday – 13/10/2014 Judah by Pastor E.a. Adeboye (princeadetokunboolaoye.wordpress.com)
    The name ‘Judah’ means praise. Judah was chosen to be the chief and ruling tribe of the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 49:8-12). The sceptre of a king and the office of a lawgiver were all allotted to Judah. Genesis 4:10 says:“The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.”Judah is a similitude of the church. In Judah, we can see a shadow of the things to come with respect to the church. Just like Judah, believers are the royal priesthood, expected to show forth the praises of God (1 Peter 2:9-10).
  • 31 Days with the Savior: Family (mlsgregg.com)
  • Listen: Pray Always, Part 4 (The Prayer Motivator Devotional #591 with Daniel Whyte III) (blackchristiannews.com)
    Those who speak from God to us we should in a particular manner desire to speak to God for us. He is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee. The great prophet is the great intercessor.
    +
    When the interests of God’s church are brought very low, so that there is but a remnant left, few friends, and those weak and at a loss, then it is time to lift up our prayer for that remnant.Our prayer motivator quote today is from J. Oswald Sanders. He said: “It is impossible for a believer, no matter what his experience, to keep right with God if he will not take the trouble to spend time with God. Spend plenty of time with him; let other things go, but don’t neglect Him.”
  • The ancestors of Jesus (georgehach.wordpress.com)
    Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh. Manasseh was the father of Amos.
    +The Gospel of Matthew links the Old and New Testaments and contains many references that show how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy.Jesus entered human history when the land of Palestine was controlled by Rome and considered an insignificant outpost of the vast and mighty Roman Empire. The presence of Roman soldiers in Israel gave the Jews military peace, but at the price of oppression, slavery, injustice, and immorality. Into this kind of world came the promised Messiah.

    +
    God’s work in history is not limited by human failures or sins, and he works through ordinary people. Just as God used all kinds of people to bring his Son into the world, he uses all kinds today to accomplish his will. And God wants to use you.

  • The Privilege of Our Approach (hisimagenme.wordpress.com)
    Go straight to God, don’t ‘pass go’, don’t ‘collect $200′, don’t call a friend, don’t check the Internet for further information, don’t do or say or act in any way shape or form except to with reverence and absolute trust go to God…and approach Him with the issues we have, our hurts and confusions, our fears and frustrations, and joys and celebrations. Lay them out before Him and expect and wait for His counsel.

    The first thing Hezekiah did was go before Adonai. He could have went to Isaiah. After all he was the anointed prophet of God there. His counsel could hardly have been in error. He likely would have told Hezekiah to do what he did anyway. It certainly would not have been a ‘sin’. But what King Hezekiah was learning was that God, Himself’s first and greatest desire is that each would seek Him for themselves.

  • Guest Post: Doubt (pastorericdykstra.com)
    What’s so awesome about this story is how humble Hezekiah is. Not once does he start counting up his men, or calculating the rations he has in the city, or discussing terms of peace with his advisors, or whatever else kings do when they’re under siege. He immediately goes into mourning, essentially, and searches for God’s wisdom. He knows that there is no way that he, Hezekiah, could defeat Sennacherib – he’s heard the stories, and he sees the massive army.

    But while he’s so humble, he’s also incredibly confident in the power of his God. God said that he will deliver them. So when he gets that intimidating letter, he takes it and spreads it out in the temple, and asks for deliverance so that everyone will know that God is the boss.

    In that moment, his faith is being tested; he has a whole city to care for, and if God were to fail them, they’d all be screwed. But instead of re-evaluating everything he believes, he takes the problem and lays it out before God. Pointing to it, he says, “I know what you promised. This seems to contradict what you had said before – but, I really can’t make this happen on my own, so I’m going to keep trusting you to take care of it. Deliver me so that everyone knows who’s in charge here.”

3 thoughts on “Re–forming ourselves

  1. Pingback: The Big Conversation follow up | Free Christadelphians: Belgian Ecclesia Brussel - Leuven

  2. Pingback: Our life depending on faith | From guestwriters

  3. Pingback: Mental Enslavement and Sins Syndrome (MESS) | Stepping Toes

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