Monday, 11 May 2015 15:23

Learning God's Ways....

Written by
Have you heard of King Hezekiah before? Today will be the first of five gospel messages in relation to his story in the Bible. There are three main Scripture passages telling us something of the life and service of King Hezekiah. They are II Kings 18-20, II Chronicles 29-32, and Isaiah 36-39. There are a few individual texts about Hezekiah which will come up as well. In this introductory sermon on King Hezekiah, drawing especially from II Kings 18 and II Chronicles 28 & 29, our theme is “Learning God’s ways from godly King Hezekiah.” Let us take note of this right away, King Hezekiah was a godly king, even exceptionally so. Both in II Kings 18:3 and in II Chronicles 29:2 we are told “he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did [had done].” How great that is! Now to learn God’s ways from godly King Hezekiah, it is helpful if we know the time in which he lived. He was king of Judah, ruling from about the year 716-687 BC. He was 25 years old when he began to reign and he was king over Judah for 29 years. It is quite likely that Hezekiah was already being trained for the position of king of Judah years before, as co-regent with King Ahaz, his father. But when his father died then he became the ruling monarch over Judah. From II Kings 18 we learn that Hezekiah was in a place of authority over Judah when the ten tribes of Israel fell to the Assyrians in the year 723-722 B.C. That downfall and destruction was no small matter but a terrible tragic event for Israel. In other words then, Hezekiah’s time was one of much confusion and turmoil on the world scene. The threat of enemy nations against Judah was real too, especially from the Philistines and from the Assyrians. Still another key point to realize about the setting of King Hezekiah is that his father, King Ahaz, was a most ungodly king. We read of King Ahaz in II Chronicles 28:1,19, & 22, “that he did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and he transgressed sore against the LORD, and even in time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the LORD.” King Ahaz was one of the most wicked kings of Judah in all their history. Besides being a gross promoter of idolatrous worship, according to II Chronicles 28:3 he even sacrificed and burned some of his children in devotion to the idol gods of the heathens. And according to vs.24 of this same chapter, King Ahaz shut up the doors of the temple and stopped all the true worship of God. He boarded up the temple and opened heathen shrines and set up idol gods and altars in every corner of Jerusalem and throughout Judah. Imagine this Hezekiah then in such a home context with a father who offered some of his siblings in religious worship to the lifeless idols of the surrounding nations. Hardly can you imagine a more terrible godless upbringing and rotten example than what Hezekiah had. With these few facts about the context of godly king Hezekiah, let us pursue our theme, “Learning God’s ways from godly king Hezekiah.” Let me draw attention to five lessons we can learn. The first lesson let me call a most hopeful one. What I am referring to here is the fact that in such a dark setting of history, how amazing and wonderful that God brought in a godly king like Hezekiah. The history for the covenant people of God looked very grim in the days of Hezekiah. Not only had the northern kingdom of Israel just fallen and the Israelites overcome and killed and scattered beyond measure but the state of Judah was in grave danger too. And while the proud surrounding nations were closing in on Judah threatening their destruction, at the same time the land was in spiritual and moral compromise and decay like never before. But now notice how out of this sinful mess there comes up this godly King Hezekiah for the people of Judah. Who would have expected this? How can we explain this except to say God in His mercy was remembering His promises. The LORD would not let His cause and His people come down to total ruin and destruction. So He raised up godly Hezekiah from out of the ruins and what a blessing he was. Can we not and should we not learn from this never to give up on the Lord’s cause and His promises to His people? Regardless how bad and evil things may look and how low the condition and state of affairs may be, God is able to bring about a turn around by His almighty gracious hand. Is this not what the Lord has done in fact throughout the history of the Christian church? Think of the 16th century reformation movement. How twisted and corrupted even things were in that time, especially in and with the Christian church. But then God raised up men and women to be used as instruments in His hand to bring a turnaround. Just reading about godly King Hezekiah coming up the ranks in the hopelessly evil and dark setting of his times can encourage us, also for our times. Do you see this hopeful lesson here, being introduced now to godly King Hezekiah? Of course the greatest and most climactic example of God intervening in the sinful hopeless history of all mankind in the world and in the church is when in the fullness of time He sent His Son into this world to be Saviour King. Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 53 that the promised Redeemer King would come forth as a root out of dry ground. In other words, Christ came to serve as righteous, almighty, triumphant Saviour and most royal and loyal Son of David, not from any contribution of good around Him but all from out of God’s almighty and abundant provision Himself. For sure no situation, not only world-wide but also just personally with you or me, is hopeless and without any promise of real change now that Jesus the Saviour has come and that He reigns supreme as Saviour God and our chief prophet, and only high priest, and our eternal king. Is your trust and hope in Him with all your heart and mind and being? It is the one way to be and stay truly hopeful regardless how hopeless any situation may look to be. And notice with me this next lesson to learn of God’s ways from godly King Hezekiah. We can call this a most convicting lesson. Remember that godly King Hezekiah had a most wicked and godless example at home. In our times we often hear it said that you need to consider a person’s background as to how they turn out in life. Many times, in fact, people today will blame their irresponsible behaviour and ungodly ways on the poor example of their parents. But see here in godly King Hezekiah how awful was his upbringing, and yet he never used that as an excuse to live an undisciplined and ungodly idolatrous life himself. In the end, no one can ever blame their upbringing for their own sinful and wicked life. Each of us is accountable and responsible before God. Our sins and sinfulness, when we see it rightly, are not to be blamed on our fathers or any others. In each and every case it remains our own fault and our own sinfulness when we live ungodly and wicked lives. And when you and I, by God’s grace, do not live in sin but turn away from it and this evil world and instead seek and serve the Lord in submission to all His holy word and will, that is entirely God’s grace and mercy. It is His saving work in our lives. To Him be all the glory! Thinking of Hezekiah, what influences might he have had that God used to lead him in His ways and not the way of his sinful ungodly wicked father, Ahaz? We know that both the prophet Micah and the prophet Isaiah were known to Hezekiah. It seems clear that Hezekiah let himself be influenced by these godly men and their teaching and preaching in his days. Then there were the more unknown godly prophets that also may have spoken to Hezekiah’s mind and heart. I’m thinking, for example, of the prophet Oded, mentioned in II Chronicles 28, and how God used him to spare the people of Judah further bondage and destruction from the hand of the Israelites. Then there is also the possibility that Hezekiah’s mother, whose name is given special mention both in II Kings 18:2 and in II Chronicles 29:1, in the one case called Abio and the other Abijah, may have been a godly influence on him. Admittedly we can’t say that for sure. However, Hezekiah’s promotion for the proverbs of Solomon [Proverbs 25:1] do add some weight to this thought. Whatever the case, early in his life Hezekiah was led to reject the way of sin and evil and to pursue the truths and ways of the Lord. Hezekiah saw firsthand the wicked and ungodly ways his father was living and ruling the land, and he resolved and determined he would not walk and live in that evil way. Rather, by God’s grace and strength and with His almighty help every step of the way, Hezekiah would seek and serve the Lord, not half-heartedly but whole-heartedly, not part-time but full-time, not just in his public life but in his private life too. What a godly gem Hezekiah becomes in a setting of such ungodly corruption and immoral filth. Of some of the other better kings in the history before Hezekiah, it was said of them they followed after David’s ways somewhat but of Hezekiah alone is said that he lived and ruled according to all that David his father had done, without any negative qualifications added. And here you see is the convicting lesson for us. As we are raised in a covenant and Christian home and in a Christian church, and living right in the middle of this wicked ungodly world, who and what are the influences in our lives? Who are your and my heroes? Whom do we love to hear from and learn from? Hezekiah likely, by God’s grace, would rather sit at the feet of Isaiah then attend ungodly parties with the other princes in the palace. He didn’t want any part in the heathen idolatrous worship of his father and so many in Judah but would much sooner learn from God’s word and the ways of godly king David long before. He learned that you can’t serve both God and this world but a decisive and steadfast choice must be made and consistently pursued shall it be well with us. I wonder if a person like godly Hezekiah would be respected and appreciated by us or would we think him a religious fanatic, a person maybe too serious and too much into wanting to follow God and His ways. He would always steer away from what is of this world and like this wicked world and not in accordance with God and His holy word and will. Hezekiah clearly didn’t live as close to the world as possible and as much like it as possible. No, but he would live godly and holily in life, regardless what people would think or say of him. His heart was for God and His glory in all of life, especially also in worship, and everyone could notice this about Hezekiah. Can the same be said about you and me, by God’s grace? Or do you have your exceptions and areas of life where you will go by your own opinions and sinful willful ways and not by God’s counsel and holy word and will? Shouldn’t we all be like Hezekiah in his day, all out for God and good and the glory of the Lord in the whole of our life with all that we think, say, and do? Oh God, give us more Hezekiah-like, godly, wholehearted zealous followers of You and Your word in our day and time. Again we need to think beyond King Hezekiah here to the great and glorious son of David, Jesus Christ the Lord. Hezekiah, as we shall learn, was not a sinless nor a perfect king but his life pointed to Christ, the ultimate Redeemer King we need. Did not Jesus as Saviour King perfectly, repeatedly, and steadfastly choose His Father’s will and way though living in a time and culture where so many went their own wicked and godless ways. Ultimately it is to Christ the Saviour we must look for all the grace and strength and resolve to seek and serve the Lord truly and consistently till our last breath. Hezekiah realized this as well and the meaning of his name also tells us this. What does Hezekiah mean? Jehovah has strengthened or Jehovah makes strength. The message with the name itself tells us the LORD was the strength and refuge for Hezekiah in all his ways, and this is what led him and kept him in God’s paths and service in his whole life. Are you looking to the Lord to be your strength and refuge in seeking and serving Him and His church and kingdom above all? Doesn’t the story of Hezekiah challenge us in this way? Learning God’s ways from godly King Hezekiah. So far we have learned a very hopeful lesson and a very convicting lesson. Notice next what we can call a zealous lesson. I mean here how Hezekiah shows us a life of zeal for the Lord. He is not just more or less somewhat committed to seeking and serving the Lord but Hezekiah is wholly committed to live to God’s honor and praise. Notice the different ways his zeal comes out. We read that as soon as he began to rule as king at age 25, he went to work to remove all the idols and false shrines and altars of worship. At the same time he opened the doors of the temple again and initiated the true worship of God. II Chronicles 29:3 states “He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them.” Right away Hezekiah would make clear the direction of his life and his leadership as king. He was zealous to remove all false worship and to reinstate all true worship of the Lord. His zeal in removing all false worship comes out in three special ways. For one thing, in II Kings 18:4 we read about how Hezekiah got rid of the brazen serpent that Moses had made at God's command but what the people were now using for false worship, even building shrines around it and making it an idolatrous relic. Hezekiah saw it being so misused now, and what did he do? He destroyed it. He called it Nehushtan, meaning a piece of brass, and away with it, into the trash heap, into the river Kidron together with all the other false idol worship images and trinkets junk. And for sure no doubt there were those who would have protested what Hezekiah did but he wouldn’t budge. As an instrument of false worship out it goes! Another way the zeal in God’s ways that clearly comes across in Hezekiah’s life is his reaching out in reform beyond his own borders. He knew the whole earth belonged to the Lord and also the territory of what was Israel. And we are told in II Chronicles 30:1 that he reached outside of Judah to the former territory of some of the tribes of Israel to include them in the reforms according to God’s word. Furthermore, notice that Hezekiah aimed to teach and inspire others to seek and serve the Lord with him in this way. He rallied the priests and Levites to God's cause and he was an enthusiastic and ‘contagious-like’ holy example and encourager to all the people. Hear him exhort the priests and Levites as he does in II Chronicles 29:11 saying, “My sons, be not now negligent: for the LORD has chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him…, and vs.15, And they gathered their brethren, and sanctified themselves, and came according to the commandment of the king, by the words of the LORD, to cleanse the house of the LORD.” It was more than a two week project cleaning up the temple of all its idols and worldly trash and filth. But the people were motivated by God through Hezekiah’s words and godly example. People could tell King Hezekiah was on fire for God and doing good and forsaking evil and turning from all sinful ways. Shouldn’t we all, especially as covenant people and as confessing Christians, be such holy examples of zeal for the Lord of hosts and all that is to His praise and rejecting and turning away from all that dishonors the Lord? God give us to be zealous Christians in our day! Think here also of Christ’s perfect total zeal for the Lord of hosts and His gospel cause, even to the death of the cross to save sinners like us. If we confess to be His people and His followers, shall we not reflect holy zeal for Him and His gospel cause? Like Hezekiah showed? Here consider with me a fourth lesson learning God’s ways from godly king Hezekiah. I am thinking now of the way this king had right and true worship of God as a priority matter. All of godly and God-honoring fruitful living to God’s praise revolves around worshipping God in spirit and truth and having that as the highest priority commitment and calling in your life. Before dealing with the economic and domestic and international and security concerns of the day, Hezekiah clearly focused on restoring the true worship of God, and getting that in order and functioning again. Do we see worship as so central and the highest priority in our lives? Does the same show in your commitment and support and involvement in the regular worship and fellowship and ministry and witness of the local church? Don’t we live in times when it can happen all too often that other matters take priority, whether it be family, or work, or sports, or travel, etc.? Revival and reformation in churches and across the lands won’t occur without wholehearted priority commitment and joyful participation in a local church and her faithful worship and ministry founded on God’s word. A fifth lesson to learn from the introduction of King Hezekiah as we study his life story is what we can call the lesson of God’s faithfulness. We will be learning next time though Hezekiah served God wholeheartedly that didn’t mean he didn’t meet with many trials and hardships. A major part of the story of Hezekiah is his dealing with the Assyrians and the troubles he met with from them. But through it all we learn especially God’s faithfulness to Hezekiah as he aimed in everything to seek and serve the Lord. God doesn’t promise a ‘problem free’ life to His people but He does promise to keep and uphold them in all their ways, and in the end to make them more than conquerors over all sin and evil. How this all becomes evident in Hezekiah’s life and under his rule is something most encouraging to learn and consider. God never leaves His people desolate. In fact, God blessed and prospered Hezekiah on many fronts also militarily and internationally in regards to the Philistines as II Kings 18:8, and, as we shall see too, in regards to the Assyrians eventually. Only Christ, God's own Son, when He would suffer and die as Sinbearer and Saviour of sinners would be left forsaken on the cross as He paid for the sins of His people as the ‘Just for the unjust’. But in the end also for Christ Jesus as He steadfastly would serve the Lord and promote God’s church and kingdom, He would be vindicated. This, we know, took place with His resurrection from the dead and then His ascension forty days after when He was seated on the throne in glory at God’s right hand. The expectation of the wicked will perish and come to nothing but all who fear and love the Lord and seek ever to live to His praise and honor shall be blessed and find fullness and fruitfulness of life and eternal life in and with Him hereafter. In conclusion we read of King Hezekiah in II Kings 18:5-7, “He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave [clung] to the LORD and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses. And the LORD was with him, and he prospered withersoever he went forth…” The next few messages will highlight more lessons in learning God’s ways from godly King Hezekiah. But for this time just thinking of the hopeful lesson, the convicting lesson, the zealous lesson, the worshipful lesson, the faithful lesson, will you respond in seeking and serving the Lord with all your mind and heart and strength and soul too by God’s grace? Will you cling to the Lord and stay close and committed to Him and His word in all your ways and relationships and responsibilities and worship and work? We live in dark times. What is needed in the Christian church and as a witness in this fallen world still in this time of grace are men and women, parents and children and youth, husbands and wives, single people and grandparents, widows and widowers who are all out for God and His gospel cause. People whose first love is and remains the Lord and His word and His worship and His kingdom. Will that be you and will that be me? Shall we pray for this and pray for one another also in this regard? The LORD calls and strengthens His people to be ‘Hezekiah-like’ in their generations and not content to be anything less in any way. Learning God’s ways of grace and truth and godliness from godly King Hezekiah. If we won’t learn from his story to seek and serve the Lord, doesn’t that mean we are not yet truly saved? And the Lord calls then: Be alarmed with the hardness of your heart. Ask for mercy and grace before it is forever too late. And if we will learn also from the life-story of King Hezekiah, and that is reflected in our godly lives and growing in godliness, then that is all of the Lord and to Him be the glory. May we all so learn more and more God’s ways from godly King Hezekiah. And may God mightily bless this message and the coming ones telling part of the redemptive history story all in praise to God Triune, the God of our salvation, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen. Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor
Read 1476 times
More in this category: Hezekiah's God-Given Triumph »

We have 2200 guests and no members online

© Free Reformed Churches of North America