Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Hezekiah’s Prayer

Interesting the difference ‘punctuation’ makes . . . if you notice it. I was so familiar with the way Mark wrote it; “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’”, that I almost missed the way Isaiah wrote it. “A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord’”. Hezekiah’s calling out to God, prepared the way for God to turn discipline into restoration. It pleased God that Hezekiah regarded his ability.

In my concern for our country, this story challenges me to lean more into God. Realizing through Isaiah’s writings that he brings princes to nothing, I have confidence in his ability. God is able to accomplish all that he pleases. Very little pleases him more than for us to regard that fact about him.

I’m glad Facebook wasn’t around then. Can you imagine the different outcome had Hezekiah taken his request to Facebook? There is a place for everything. I won’t quit posting altogether; but my postings will be tempered differently now. It will no longer be my goal to present my case for one candidate or the other; but rather for the fact that God desires of us all that we present our cases to him.

By nothing more than a prayer – one man presenting his case to God – of the Assyrian army that had Hezekiah and his people surrounded, 185,000 men woke up dead. The rest went home . . . and stayed there.

Isaiah’s Message

Interesting the difference ‘punctuation’ makes . . . if you notice it. I was so familiar with the way Mark wrote it; “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord’”, that I almost missed the way Isaiah wrote it. “A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the Lord”.

In the context of the previous chapters, Jerusalem was experiencing God’s discipline. In the previous 3 chapters, Hezekiah boldly turns to God for help. As a result, God turns. The discipline ends and restoration begins. In a prayer, God goes from “cleansing the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire”, to, “Comfort, comfort my people”. 

“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem”, “her sin has been paid for”. God heard the “voice of one (Hezekiah) calling”. In his desert experience, he called. It prepared the way for the Lord. It made a straight highway on which God could travel. 

In our desert, sometimes the only thing standing between God coming to our rescue or not, is whether or not we take the time to call. “A voice says, ‘Cry out.’” We are encouraged to cry out to a God who “brings princes to nothing”.

It is the message of the entire book of Isaiah. “Come and let us reason together.” To a people who had disregarded him, he simply asks that we remember who he is; and that in remembering, we come to him.

 

From Isaiah 57

Though God lives in a holy place,

yet he is in the lowly space.

 

Not with good who sees no need,

nor with bad who refuse to heed.

 

But those who hate their evil ways,

with them his spirit forever stays.

 

His silence not the resounding nod;

patience is the way ‘our God.

 

Perfection not the gem he seeks;

it’s the lowly soul with whom he speaks.

 

The lowly soul with contrite heart,

to him his grace he does impart.

 

The Craving of God

Though it can’t be said that God needs anything, I believe it can be said that there is something that He craves. From the beginning of creation, He has craved . . . love. He hand picked Abraham to begin a nation of people that would love Him. He chose Moses to lead that nation out of Egypt—displaying His ability to protect and provide—in hopes that they would love Him. He helped them take the Promised Land, in hopes that they would love him. When they didn’t, He disciplined them, in hopes that they would realize they had stopped loving Him. Through the Judges—their doing evil and forgetting Him; through the Kings—some leading them away from Him and some leading them towards Him; He simply wanted them to love Him.

Though His chosen people had been a disappointment, still, He craved love; and with one final effort He has extended the invitation to all humanity. Through His only Son, all have been invited. All are loved and have been invited to love.

Satan would twist it to make all about the rules. Rules have their place, but I believe it is first about love. If you love God with all your heart, the rules will settle out; and until they do—fortunately—His love covers a multitude of sins. Because of His love, He waits; His craving for ours . . . compels Him.

 

 

Do you ever feel guilty for not really wanting to go to heaven . . . today? A few mornings ago, Sheila and I were sitting in our screened porch enjoying the view and a few cups of coffee. The grass was green from all the recent rain and had just been cut the day before. The temperature was perfect. We had finches, blue birds, red birds . . . and as a little bonus, a mamma and her two fawns to enjoy watching.

It’s a rare thing that I take my Bible to the porch; I usually read inside. But this time I took it. My scheduled reading, Isaiah 35, was about heaven. So there I sat struggling with guilt for not wanting to go there . . . just yet. I know when we get there, we’ll kick ourselves for being so foolish; but as I sat there pondering, I realized that this is the world He has given us to enjoy for now.

The day will come when we will leave this world. Heaven will blow this world away. There will be tastes we’ve never tasted, colors we’ve never seen and sounds we’ve never heard; and all eternity to enjoy it. But for now, He has given us this world. It is His creation. He was pleased when He created it. I think He enjoys seeing us enjoying it and is okay with our not wanting to leave it . . . today.

 

I heard recently of a Facebook conversation between a couple of friends. Though I have not seen the dialogue, I was told the jist of it.

One has chosen a gay lifestyle. Believing God made him that way, he is fully convinced God accepts his choice. Another from our group called him on it. The one line I remember she used was that we all heard the same preaching.

What has changed? Has God changed? Was he against it then but now he’s not? Was it just a case of man’s wrong interpretation of a loving God? Or, has Satan slipped in to deceive? Is the current view held by our mutual friend and so many others today a result of the success of this deception?

I thought a lot about this when I heard about it. I thought of how Satan deceived Eve. She had heard what God said, but Satan suggested something that made her question what God meant. And in that mental frame she was open to Satan’s new meaning.

Not too long ago, I stumbled across a verse in Luke. “See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” It is a constant struggle to make sure that what we believe is right. If we rely on what we once believed, what we once believed can be twisted. And if it is twisted, no matter how much we believe it is light, it is actually darkness.

 

A Deafening Silence

Forgetting God is a subtle . . . and gradual . . . thing. As I sit here this morning, I would say that I am not guilty of forgetting God, but my journal testifies against me. There have been years where my time with God (my reading and subsequent journaling) has resulted in 4 – 5 journals. At the pace I am on right now, the one I am currently in could almost last an entire year. Have I forgotten God? No way. I have this current journal to prove it. But this same journal also proves that I have to an extent.

Isaiah spoke of a people that had “forgotten God their Savior”. They “had not remembered their Rock, their fortress”. I would suspect, like myself, they would argue that they had not forgotten Him. Knowing how subtle and gradual the forgetting happens, there must surely be trickles of remembrance, sufficient for our minds to believe we haven’t forgotten Him. From what Isaiah says about them, they were further along in their forgetting than I, and God was letting them know the consequences.

Of another group, similar problem, comes this staggering thought; I can’t quit thinking about it. It is God’s response to them. “I will remain quiet.” With impending plans of judgment . . . silence. It makes me wonder of us today. His silence allows us the luxury of assuming acceptance. It may very well not be the case.