Ken Rudge, St. Austell, England
‘Hezekiah was sick and near death, and he prayed to the Lord; and He spoke to him and gave him a sign. But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favour shown him for his heart was lifted up'
2 Chr. 32. 24-25 NKJ.
Of all the kings that ruled over Israel and Judah it is Hezekiah's reign that offers the most, in many ways, of both encouragement and warning. His achievements spiritually would parallel both David's and Solomon's for breadth, depth and length, yet his starting point was at a level of decline and departure that neither of these great predecessors knew.
From a state of universal idolatry, a non-existent priesthood and no levitical service, together with an absence of an active ceremonial calendar to keep the people together, this man purged the nation of idols and recovered a central place for the Lord in their midst.
This surely tells us that despite what the depressives constantly say, there is no condition of things that God cannot recover His people from, so long as they have the heart and willingness to accept it.
Firstly, Hezekiah got rid of the evil from the past. Every vestige of idolatry and its defiling effects were thrown out. Even emblems of a past work of God, (the brazen serpent made by Moses in the wilderness), however affectionately regarded, went! Secondly, having removed everything that was inconsistent with the Lord in their midst, he ensures a sanctified priesthood and levitical service, and reinstates all the symbols and ceremonies as divinely ordained, each in its correct order. All must be in accord with 'what was written'.
It is such a pleasure to see this man at work and what joy it must have brought to God's heart. Still the same in our day, He waits for us to begin the movement towards Him that we so desperately need. Can we start the clear out process? Begin with our preconceptions about the truth and how we hold it. Develop a willingness to openly confess error, hypocrisy and a lack of spiritual reality. Above all cultivate an attitude of always going back to the word and working it out in practice for ourselves.
A driving force for Hezekiah was doubtless his awareness of the grim fruit of departure from the ways of God. He was well instructed by godly men like Isaiah and knew what to do when it came to doing it. Primarily though, the chronicler would have us know that what he did, he did with his whole heart and here is perhaps the nub of it all.
Disappointingly, the extension to his life of fifteen years were barren for God. 'He did not repay according to the favour shown him,' v. 25. The reason? PRIDE. We haven't a deal of time left. God deliver us from the blindness of pride at a time like this! Has He our hearts? Please God He has and will show us favour in our day too.
This issue of the magazine offers us an opportunity to get a fresh appreciation of local church truth and how we should be practising it. There is also that which feeds our appreciation of Christ and that which encourages us to continue to look up to the Lord despite the hardness of the pathway. The first of our 'Keynote' articles throws down the gauntlet to inertia and lethargy of heart. May the Lord truly bless us as we read it.