Daily Reflections June 7, 2017
Today’s text brings us to a tragic turn of events in Hezekiah’s reign. Up until this point, his kingship has been an example of wisdom, humility and prayerfulness.
Facing the death threats of a terrifying Assyrian army, rather than surrendering in fear, Hezekiah wisely brought the plight of his people before the Lord. God defeated king Sennacherib and sent an angel to destroy the army camped around the walls of Jerusalem. This same resolution in prayer was on display when Hezekiah was diagnosed with a fatal illness. He cried out to the Lord and 15 years were added to his life.
Thus, the story that we read in chapter 39 is both puzzling and alarming. When an envoy comes to him from the distant nation of Babylon, rather than consulting with the Lord, Hezekiah proceeds to unashamedly parade his treasures and riches before his guests.
It was prideful. It was sinful. It was not what we would expect from the great King Hezekiah.
Those guests would go home to Babylon with a grand report of the wealth of Israel, and a little over 100 years later, the Israelites would be carried away by their Babylonian captors. Hezekiah’s lapse in judgement led to the destruction of God’s temple, the enslavement of God’s people, and what was arguably the darkest moment in Israel’s history.
Consider these themes from today’s text:
1. Even the godliest men have weaknesses. This theme is everywhere in Scripture. Whether it was Moses, David, Hezekiah or any other “hero” of the Old Testament, every single one of them fell short. Each of these stories is meant to leave us with this undeniable truth: We need more than a good man. We need the God-man Jesus Christ. That is a necessary reminder for our personality-obsessed, leader-exalting world. We should thank God for those with the gift of leadership (Eph. 4:11-16), but we must remember that the only perfect leader we follow is Jesus Christ.
2. Our enemy is dangerous and resourceful. When an army was camped on his doorstep Hezekiah responded with prayer and dependence. The next attack came in the form of a health crisis, but it was met with the same resolve. The devil then brought his assault in the form of flattery adorned with gifts. This was the arrow that found the crack in Hezekiah’s armor. Sometimes we are faced with direct attacks. Other times our enemy tries to slip in through the back door. How necessary it is than that God’s people pray for protection on every front.
3. We can be terribly short sighted. How else can we describe Hezekiah’s response? He is informed that the punishment for his sinful actions will be felt most fully in the coming generations. Hezekiah responds:
“The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “There will be peace and security in my days.” (Isaiah 39:8 ESV)
What a sad, selfish response from a man who had been such a wonderful leader. This is the indifferent, shrug-of-the-shoulders attitude that one would expect from a child, not a king.
Hezekiah was at his very best when he was prayerful and humble. That is the posture that God delights in rewarding. It is the prayerful and humble heart that, by God’s grace, is made to stand against the enemy’s schemes. May it be found in us.
Pastor Levi denBok
Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew directly overhead, “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!” (Revelation 8:13 ESV)
Revelation 9 describes the dreadful unleashing of the invasion of two demonic armies that will bring judgment upon the people of the earth. The fifth trumpet signals a coming destruction (9:1-12). The plagues introduced by the trumpets are getting worse. The terrible locust plague described is differentiated from the preceding four trumpets in that it directly targets humankind. The words of woe announced in the preceding section (8:13) now begin to be experienced. This is a chapter of unspeakable tragedy.
The fifth trumpet, the first woe, introduces a judgment from below, from the Abyss. This is the place of the demons, the evil powers that live under the earth, associated with destruction and death. We should note that God grants authority to these demons as agents of his judgment. An angel, called the fallen star, is given a key to open the shaft of the bottomless pit. As the pit is opened, smoke rises, the sun and air are darkened, and demons, symbolized by locusts, are unleashed upon the earth. However, they are given limits. They are not permitted to harm vegetation or those who have the seal of God on them. The demons are granted five months to torture humanity. The pain they inflict is so great that people will seek death but not be able to find it. The leader of this group is the “Destroyer”.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. (John 10:10 ESV)
As horrible as this will be, still greater woes are coming. The second section (9:13-21) describes the sounding of the sixth trumpet; 200 million demonic invaders, destroying angels, will cause unimaginable, unprecedented destruction; they will kill one-third of mankind. The two-thirds of humanity who survive will refuse to repent (verses 20-21). They will not give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver. They will not repent of their murders, witchcraft, immorality or theft. They will be guilty of breaking the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), of loving idolatry (Jeremiah 2:28), of engaging sexual immorality (Colossians 3:5), and of loving false prophets (Revelation 2:14, 20). These survivors will be like Pharaoh who in the face of the plagues on Egypt, hardened his heart and did not repent.
The Word of the Lord tells us that God is in control. At exactly the right hour God will unleash forces that will enact judgment. They are bound by the Lord until he says so (see 9:15). God is sovereign over all that is and all that is coming. All forces are subject to him.
Evil will not win. Darkness will not have the final say. God will vindicate his saints. God hears the prayers of the saints, whose cries and praises are offered to the Lord on his throne. In response, the Lord brings this judgment upon the earth (see Revelation 8:3-5).
They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10 ESV)
Let us love God, hold fast to his truth, seek righteousness, preach the gospel, call the lost to repentance and trust the Lord who will judge the earth and then make all things new!
Associate Pastor Jody Cross