Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tearing Down the High Places

In our homeschool Bible class we have been studying the two kingdoms of Israel before captivity and exile.  It is like watching a movie where the person is in danger and instead of doing the smart thing, they walk right into the pitch dark basement with a bat for defense.  You wish you could stop them.  You might even scream out to try because you already know the danger they are in and how this scenario will play out!

2 Kings 15:1-5
15  In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah became king. 2 He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned fifty-two years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Jecoliah of Jerusalem. 3 He did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done. 4 Only the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places. NASU

Did you hear us scream?  We just want to say to the king, "Go all the way.  Obey God completely!  Tear down those high places!  Stop allowing the people to sacrifice (this was typically children) and burn incense to false gods!"
  Every once in a while we do read the happy ending.  This week we are studying one of the godly kings of Judah. (Israel, the northern tribes, had NONE, ever!)  Anyway, it was so nice to hear that again there was a godly king over Judah.  It makes you look forward to a happier chapter.

2 Kings 18:1-6
Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea, the son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. 3  He did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. 4  He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah. He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan. 5  He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him. 6 For he clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses.

Now, do you hear us cheering?  We were so pleased to see a godly leader and we could hardly wait to read how God blesses Judah through him.  For the first 14 years there is great blessing.  Then the trouble begins.  The Assyrian king starts trouble.  He takes over the fortified cities of Judah and then requires great tributes (payments) from Hezekiah.  Things don't seem to be going so well for Hezekiah, but Hezekiah again does the right thing!

2 Kings 19:14-19
14 Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said, "O Lord, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 " Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 17 "Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands 18 and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men's hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. 19 "Now, O Lord our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, OLord, are God." NASU
Did our cheering stop?  No way!  Read this!

2 Kings 19:35-37
35  Then it happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning, behold, all of them were dead. 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home, and lived at Nineveh.

So now you might think all was good for Hezekiah.  Nope!  He becomes deathly ill.  Again, we cheer as he does the right thing again by going straight to prayer!

2 Kings 20:3-4
3 " Remember now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in truth and with a whole heart and have done what is good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.

God then graciously gives him 15 more years of life and promises to protect his city during that time as well. 

As we were reading this, it made me appreciate many things about God and His faithfulness.  But it also made me want to be like Hezekiah and tear down the high places of sin.  You know, the sins that are hard for others to get to, that few people (except probably your closest family) will see.  But God sees them.  No place is too high, or too low, or too dark, even the sins that are mostly in our heart. 

Help me, God, to tear down the high places of hidden sin in my heart and to obey your precious words, and to go to you in prayer when the enemy is at my door and I am weak and I am sin-sick.  May my legacy to my children be that I was a godly mom!

With All My Heart~

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