AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH November 20, 2011
Presbyterian Church following the Bible without Qualification
and the Lord Jesus Christ without Compromise by Faith in accord with the thrust of the Constitution of 1901 of the Presbyterian Church of Australia
KING HEZEKIAH, A WONDER AND A WARNING PART 3
While Wandering is Woe, the Fear of the Lord is Clean,
Enduring Forever, His statutes Right, Rejoicing the Heart.
THE PERSONAL TEST OF THE KING
Yet the testings of the King were not yet complete. The end of each life is written beforehand and the counsel of the Lord is clear from the first (Ephesians 1:4,11, Isaiah 46:10),and He works all things after the counsel of His own will. Great gifts can manage great tests. Now we learn that God, in order to put on display all that was in Hezekiah's heart (II Chronicles 32:31), withdrew from the normal intimacy of fellowship, and alas, how suddenly did Hezekiah fall! If the mechanics put a new engine in your car, or lavishly look after the existing one, one would hope that it would then perform well under test; but if for some reason, it had to go on a desert journey, one would still hope that with routine maintenance, it might be able to sustain a reasonable force, just as a kindly cared for saint might show his fortitude, under testing trial.
Grievous therefore was the failure to discern, to be watchful which the King now displayed, almost as if he were a King, and the King of Babylon was a King, and between the two of them, naturally, there should be fellowship and sincere greetings. Not so is the prince of this world! (cf. John 14:30, and II Chronicles 19). He CANNOT be trusted at all!
If then Hezekiah had been prone at one phase to pride of heart, though this was soon corrected, now he seemed to become subject to slackness of spirit, thus teaching us to be vigilant at ALL times, and to abide in the cherished Lord with a closeness which does not depend on feeling, though His sacred presence be treasured. When therefore the greetings and kindly seeming word from the King of Babylon came through his messengers, Hezekiah appears to have acted blindly, like a pilot flying into a vast cloud of unknown temperature, contents and electrical perils, without consultation or consideration.
Thus, friendly overtures came from Babylon, and so the King in Judah unwound his wealth, to show it, and to show the temple with its gold and vast treasures to Babylon's emissaries, as if the same Lord were over Babylon and Judah; but it was not so. The difference was not gradational but operational, not in degree but in kind, and more than that, it was between the one God who is living and eternal, and gods made by man's mind.
HENCE when Isaiah asked him concerning the matter, the King, apparently still in the grip of laxity, freely noted that he had shown them ALL! Appalling to cast pearls before swine (that is, in this instance, things of spiritual significance freely and without counsel before those whose heart is subject to another sovereign who blinds, or passion which paralyses), and to act in fellowship with what is not in and of the Lord, as some do with the World Council of Churches, which attests many religious approaches, far from the Bible. Such laxity is not readily removed. In the case of Hezekiah, it took the word from the Lord through Isaiah to bring the King back to reality!
Was he to have fellowship as if to incorporate with the followers and users of idols, foisting transgression as if truth! Did not II Chronicles 19 show the folly of this in the day of Jehoshaphat! Was he to help the wicked and show kinship with those who hate the Lord ? That was the challenge to King Jehoshaphat. Was that lesson now to be ignored ?
It was not a mere matter of being kind, but of sharing the plan and purpose of life with such, as Jehoshaphat had just done! Hezekiah temporarily fell into the same diggings! This even now, many even of those who use the name of Christ, do on a vast scale including themselves with organisations with counter-scriptural notions or coverage or membership; and indeed, some seek to do this with virtually anything bearing the name of a Church, even if it denies the word of God at will, contrary to Romans 16:17.
It was wrong, is wrong and led to the rebuke from Isaiah, that although Hezekiah's own life-time would be free of the approaching calamity, yet that would come. As some children bear openly and wholly some fault in a parent, to their ruin, so a nation can slowly become prey to the wolves of subversion which gnaw at its vitals, as now is the case in Australia, where change from the past often national impact of founding faith, appears almost a passion, not to refine, but to reject. Thus the much vaunted 'multi-culturalism' in Australia is pushed to mean that instead of carefully becoming more tolerant in non-essentials, people are rather to adapt to everything and become nothing, making a foundation-free nullity, founded on nothing but naȉveté, and asking eloquently to come to nothing.
Back to base, however, let us consider some of the ingredients of Hezekiah's folly in gullibility, one that led on directly to the invasion of the nation.
PRINCIPLES OF POLLUTION
had tended to become one of the world, and if this was chiefly in his
unconscious attitude, one great among the great, it was still a weakness that
could be exploited, like an unattended wound.
2) Secondly, he was enmembered among the mighty, valiant king of deliverance; and it is so easy when the LORD delivers you, to allow, like some moon, the radiance of His release to attach to yourself. Daniel knew the answer to that: it is NOT, he told the king in giving the supernatural answer to the king's incredible request to interpret a dream that he did not disclose: it is NOT from any special wisdom above all men that I have, but God has delivered us.
Thus when the mighty king of Babylon sent messengers to say how happy he was that dear King Hezekiah was so much better after his trial of sickness, Hezekiah is not on record as saying, Yes, the Lord God of Israel, compassionate, covenantally faithful, fearless in mighty, strong in consolation, has healed me direct. It was not because of any peculiar might in me, or for any particular reward, but of His own free will He resolved so to act, and we as recipients boast in Him. Had he done so, there would have been a testimony of power and purity, an implicit challenge to the Babylonian culture of many gods, and imperial power which is glad to use them. Hezekiah could have distinctivelyhonoured the Lord for His healing, and so exalted Him. As it was, Hezekiah opened up the temple, it would seem almost as an act of fellowship with spiritual aliens, allowing the lust for gold and glory to seize them the more!
3) He had become a significant sovereign, and thus filled with wealth and praise, could afford a more lenient, even more lax and perhaps more leisurely style, as if the battle between good and evil, God and no-god, glory and shame, godliness and unspirituality, biblical truth and alien propaganda has in some way come to a lull; but it never comes to that, nor will it till Christ the Messiah returns to rule. If there are special times of testing which we must all face, as Hezekiah both politically and personally had been required to face, yet all of life is testing, since we are born aliens, in need of covenantal acceptance, born without mercy, in need of being brought near by the sacrifices of God, focussed and finalised in the Cross of the Messiah, who came in His time.
Indeed, even when we have personal peace with our glorious Saviour, unlike all the kings of the earth, who tend to love dominion with its power, yet many a test, trial, even tribulation may come from slanderers as well as those more directly manipulating the sword, detractors, deviants from grace, the worldly wise who seek to combine purity with worldly policy, as when creation becomes too much in biblical terms, and they 'accommodate culture' as if God were socially subject to duress. We are to be ready, not thus to betray our Lord. HIS Lordship is one of grace, of giving, of covering sin and enabling spiritual life as it should be: and it is THUS that He acted to redeem. As it declares in Romans 14:9,
"For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living."
Again, in Romans 15:3,
even Christ did not please Himself, but as it is written,
'The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me."
The practical and continual realisation of the Lordship of THIS Christ, and not some conglomerate of wilful autonomy, liberal intrusion, humanist desire or arrogant power exposes this: the two are irreconcilable, as traitors to government, as miscreants to their Creator, as wilful adulterers to marriage, whatever form they may adopt in their speech.
So Hezekiah fell in this international episode, played out in Jerusalem, at the very architectural hearth of the Lord! This was to the grief of Isaiah, he revealed almost like a babbling child, seemingly without contrition or realisation, how he had brought the Babylonian emissaries in their 'purely social' visit, to behold ALL of the great wonders of the Temple. Accordingly, in reply to Isaiah's simple question, "What have they seen ? " , the King replied, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them."
The reply to this King, who after all had interrupted the ruthless anti-God measures of the treacherous King Ahaz, a dissembler, and whose son Manasseh was to become an even more evil masterpiece of wanton betrayal than that, was a warning to the churches of today. Once you sit on a slide, do you reach for the brakes ?
" 'Behold the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon, nothing shall be left, ' says the Lord."
How many churches have been carried away to the symbolic Babylon
as shown in Revelation 17, and how many are asking for their eminent
candle-sticks, supposedly to help them shed forth the light into the world, that
of Christ, to be taken away as in Revelation 2:5.The judgment from Isaiah became
worse as it went on, but this suffices for our present purpose; for indeed the
personal side to come, and the desolation of the souls of the children thus
caught up in the falling and failing testimony, is a sombre addition.
DRIFT DANGER OF THE KING
AND THE ARREST OF THE LORD
Indeed, in Australia, the absence of God, the diversion from the Lord, the teaching of contrariness with compulsion seems to have become near to a national creed in political promptings and sickness. It is wonderful to be free ? Yes, try dropping over a cliff, and under gravity for a time, you can freely roam in space. In fact, freedom is impossible except within the bounds of what one is, of the One who has created this marvel, and what He has designed. In this case, THAT is magnificent liberty, even to become children of God on the basis of truth in the sphere of love; but it is not autonomy, to make of yourself some fabricated god with fabricated heart that moves in self-fashioned universes of thought, and contrives to blast, belittle and even storm at creation, while desecrating what has been given.
Creation-phobia, like anti-Semitism, now ploughing many a mind in this land, is intolerance of God, intransigence against His word (Hebrews 11:1ff., Colossians 1:15) and insurrection against logic (cf. SMR, TMR). The USA to be, once warred on Britain, but this is war on God, to make a declaration of independence, like a sheep out on the highway.
You can do it. It has results, just as is the case when you use your fountain pen to dislodge dirt in a crevice. It is possible but pointless. You cannot write legibly in that way for a time, and merely so abuse the whole point of your life. And for what do you surrender this ? Merely for arbitrary wilfulness, proud passion or incontinent aspiration ? To have a heart lifted up is arrogant; but it is also actionable, since to seek to move above its bounds is merely to await the crash as it jars to earth. We are already gifted with scope, that each one might become a child of God. If that appears insufficient, it can only be because a certain godlike autonomy beckons, whether this be for one's own pride, or in some kind of fear and social conformity, or other distortion; but in the end, where one goes, that is the point for ascertaining direction of flow.
Hezekiah therefore, even in his weaknesses has a vast lesson for each and all of us; just as in his purposeful actions so numerous, his example is stimulating for good things. Avoid laxity, listlessness, formalism, greatness, soaking in the spirit of this world, an enervating bath, seduction by culture and conformity to kingdoms, as if your religion were an addition to your life, not its source, and your King were one of the assembled great ones of the earth, and not their coming Judge (as in Daniel 2).
Rejoice moreover, that just as Hezekiah, for all his failure, was yet kept by the Lord, by the power of God to salvation (I Peter 1:3-8), that not in his day did the foretold national ruin occur, just as God in His grace promised through the prophet Isaiah, so is each of His people kept by the power of God through faith to salvation reserved in heaven. Hezekiah serves as a warning but in this as a challenging comfort as well. Just as the fear of the Lord is clean, challenging, desirable, like purging fire, blessed with His splendid while surging into His wonder, giving Him the glory which is His due, so is His mercy a benediction which satisfies the longing soul, like the head of a mountain, balmed and anointed with a covering cloud: but with us, it is not cloud but Christ who covers. He is able to arrest ruin and by grace secure spiritual life for ever.
HIS cover was wrought on earth, on a Cross with one post pointing to His source in heaven, and one to His course on earth, so that satisfying the one (Romans 5:1), He reached out to the other (John 6:44). HE would have all (Colossians 1:19ff.); so ensure that you would have Him, not as a financial enterprise to be considered, but as a life reality to face, ruin to sin and granting eternal life (John 5:24). Pity for ruin is beautiful; ruin is not!