2 Kings 18: 13—19: 37
Gosh, I was on fire when I read that Hezekiah apologize to the king of Assyria! I mean come on! This is YOUR Land. God gave it to you!!! Why are you apologizing! Go ask God to kill them all. Much to my delight the king of Assyria threatens Hezekiah enough that Hezekiah does go seek the Lord. Isaiah the prophet tells him what to do, and God (as always) authenticates his prophet by giving a near prediction that does come true almost immediately. When Hezekiah receives another message for the king of Assyria he goes straight to the temple and prays. God responds through Isaiah and ultimately the Assyrian army is defeated by the Lord.
But then, as is God’s way, as I was sitting in my self-righteousness, HE reminded me, “There are places and spaces in your life where you don’t have the faith to live out the promises I have already made to you.” This is true. Mine does not look like inhabiting the Promised Land, but it does often look like me afraid of a situation that God has already promised me He would get me through. We only ever move as deep into the promises of God as our faith allows. If we don’t believe Him for it, we won’t get it. But we can also trust that just like Hezekiah HE is always wooing us into deeper faith.
Verse 18: 22 was such a good reminder of how dangerous syncretism is! “But perhaps you will say to me, ‘We are trusting in the Lord our God!’ But isn’t he the one who was insulted by Hezekiah? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down his shrines and altars and make everyone in Judah and Jerusalem worship only at the altar there in Jerusalem? Israel was supposed to be the nation God used to clear up all this false worship. They have syncretized their worship of God so much that the surrounding nation cannot even tell the difference. In fact, this king is using Hezekiah’s obedience to God as dig against him!
Acts 21: 1-17
People have an aversion to suffering that is for sure. God in his kindness to Paul is using these prophets to explain what the future will hold. He authenticates their messages later in this book because we see Paul does in fact get arrested. But just like with Jesus, no one wants to believe Paul is going to die. The people want him to keep going and being their teacher. They are so upset they weep.
But isn’t Paul living out just what I talked about in the OT reading. He has the faith to walk out the promises God has already made to him. He knows that he will suffer but that when he dies, he will get to be with his Savior. No matter what happens Paul has been told by Jesus himself that he is to be the missionary to the Gentiles. Paul is living that out. He is cool with dying because he is acting on his faith in the Lord. This will come back to haunt us as we get to our marching orders later in the NT. And when I say “haunt” I mean that you will be reading some command for the church and your heart will drop because you are not walking it out in faith. I mean, I have heard how that’s how that goes. Being perfect myself, I have never had to do a gut check. (In case you don’t get sarcasm, that is a joke.)