Love Came Down with Tests

IMG_1601In Isaiah 38, a massive Assyrian army encamped against Judah breathing bloodthirsty curses and  the people were faced with a serious choice: trust God and obey the King in silence or believe the enemies’ lies and be defeated within before the enemy charged the first gate.

Despite the terrifying taunts by the Assyrian general, Judah’s sentries remained silent at their post.  With resolve, Hezekiah and his people sought the Lord for deliverance as their single posture of defense and led by their king, they silently endured the enemy’s shouts.

God’s back up was quick and unilateral. 185,000 Assyrians died in a single evening, slain by the Angel of the Lord.  

Obliterated, the Assyrian army retreated home in a full out race, desperate to avoid further slaughter.

With rejoicing, Judah returned to planting and harvesting, life unhindered without enemy’s threats.   During this season, Hezekiah fell fatally ill.  God through Isaiah ordered Hezekiah to get his house in order since he would die.  Instead, Hezekiah wept before the Lord, promising to worship the Lord all his days, if only his life would be spared.

Compassionately God healed the king.  Hezekiah arose from his sick bed and praised God for His deliverance, vowing to sing all the days of his life in the house of the Lord, to live before God as an adoring king,

Yet Hezekiah could not maintain that place of reverence and wonder at God’s deliverance.  Instead, when an envoy of Babylonians arrived to Judah, persuaded by their gifts and letters, the king opened his home to these foreign emissaries to tour all the treasures of his house, to inspect his armory, gold and silver supplies, and witness everything under his dominion.

2015-03-21 13.50.19 Isaiah the prophet then confronted the king with the news that Babylon would carry away everything which his fathers had accumulated. Judah’s royal household would be destroyed and his very grandsons would be forced to serve as eunuchs in the courts of Babylon.

Hezekiah responded strangely to the news in Isaiah 39:8 stating, “The word of the Lord is which you have spoken is good! For he said, “At least there will be peace and truth in my days!”

How selfish can you get.

2 Chronicles 32: 31 clearly states that the envoy of Babylonians had been a test of Hezekiah’s heart:”However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land, God withdrew from him, in order to test him, that He might know all that was in his heart.”

Though his body had been healed, Hezekiah’s heart was indeed sick.  Once recovered, Hezekiah lived a small life after the Assyrian invasion, celebrating his personal accomplishments instead building more with God. As Hezekiah lived only for his generation, he failed his kingdom, and this miss affected his son, Manasseh,with disastrous consequence.

Under Manasseh’s depraved demonic rule, Judah suffered dark, brutal days for over fifty-five years, as Hezekiah’s son “seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the Lord destroyed before the children of Israel.  And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen.” ( 2 Chronicles 33:9-10).

IMG_0911Trauma can have an insidious effect on our relationship with God.  When difficult circumstances come, like Hezekiah, our trust in God can be compromised. Though our mouths may still  praise, our actions clearly reveal whether our relationship with God is thriving or pretense.  Though Hezekiah had begged God to spare Judah, “so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord, You alone” (Isaiah 37:20) , after the Assyrians ran for their lives, Hezekiah secretly quit the Almighty.  In a custom-sized test of the heart, Hezekiah gave first billing to himself, boasting of his own worth to the Babylonians. God’s amazing grace and provision to Judah was painfully omitted.

Living only for today is not an option for a kingdom-minded God lover.  Like Abraham, Hezekiah could have lived with prophetic foresight, raising a nation which feared God.  Instead, once the Assyrians withdrew, Hezekiah fulfilled his remaining days enjoying retirement, not caring about his future generations because his heart had failed him.

 

All of us can grow anxious within, distant from our Lord, when the disappointments of life overwhelm our heart.  The good news is that God can help us with that disconnect if we would just ask.

Hezekiah was a good king, blessed by God, fully operating in the kingdom principles of reigning with creativity, expansion, blessing and abundant provision, yet I expect his heart failed him after the near miss with the Assyrians and unwilling to do the tough work of facing his fears and vulnerability, he failed to finish well.

2013-10-08 20.26.10Each of us, like Hezekiah, have personal kingdoms to rule, reign, bless and protect.  We impact our relationships with health or hurt based on the state of our heart before God.

Life happens. As God’s Beloved, may we keep our hearts steady, healed, and in deep intimacy with our God as we surrender to His care through both good and difficult times. And may we each finish well by the incredible grace and mercy of our Father who loves us.

Let’s pray:  Lord, search us and know our hearts.  In the areas that are shut down with trauma or disappointment, bring your healing.   Holy Spirit, lead us in Your everlasting ways.   Let Your kingdom come and Your will be done, here on earth as it is in heaven and may our hearts stay aligned to your heart.  May the truth that we are the Beloved of God hold us steady today.  We seek Your Face, O God. Amen

Study Questions:

  1.  Think of a tough time in your life.  Did you run to God or shut down?
  2. Have a frank conversation with the Lord.  Then Listen.
  3. Why does trauma have such a long effect on our future.  Ask the Lord to remove trauma bonds from your life.  Ask the Lord to heal your heart and mind and melt all cellular memory from your body of trauma.  Let Holy Spirit minister to you today.
  4. Responsibility is never given without grace.  Are you reaching for Father’s grace today?
  5. What testimony of God’s power in your life carries you through tough times?  Share this with me or someone today.

This Week’s Reading:  Isaiah 26-40

Next Week’s Reading:  Isaiah 41-55