Lessons From Hezekiah

 In 2 Chronicles, the Bible tells the story of Hezekiah, an ancient king of Judah. Originally, there were twelve tribes that made up the nation of Israel. But during the reign of King Solomon’s son Rehoboam, ten tribes rebelled and separated themselves from his leadership.

While the ten defecting tribes kept the name Israel, the large tribe around Jerusalem was called Judah. There were now two kingdom, with two kings, often at odds with each other, and many of whom were considered evil in the sight of the Lord.

At the time, both Israel and Judah continually had difficulty remaining loyal to their God, often turning away and following the gods of their neighbors. But Hezekiah was one of the good kings. According to the Bible, “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his father David had done.” The word “father” in this sense refers to his ancestor, King David.

Hezekiah took over at the age of 25, and immediately started restoring the worship of Jehovah. Previously, his predecessor and father, Ahaz, had closed the doors of the temple, and led the kingdom into idol worship.

This should actually give some of us hope. Even if you come from a very troubled past, or rough family history, it doesn’t mean you have to go the same way. Ahaz led the people away from God, but his son led them back to God.

He went about it in a brilliant way too. The Levites were a line of priests who had been set apart, much like ministers today. But even they had fallen prey to idolatry. This happens to us too. No one is immune from temptation and failure.

So he started with them. He brought them all together in an assembly and stated his case. He confessed the sins of the nation, and told them what they needed to do to make it right.

Hezekiah realized he needed to get the leaders on board first. If you want to reach the people, reach the leaders. Whatever you’re representing, find the influential people. They’ll make the case for you.

Actually, he really started with himself. He did the right things, and held himself accountable by telling the Levite leaders what he was going to do, personally. He led by example.

Once the temple and priests had been restored, he sent couriers to all the people in both kingdoms. While many ridiculed him, there were still a large number that listened, and came together.

You can’t reach everyone, and not everyone is going to see things the way you do. All you can do is put it out there. I remember an old sales saying: “Some will, some won’t. So what.” Do what you do. Even barking dogs finally get tired of barking. Meanwhile, you keep rolling.

So a great revival swept the land, and many began following God again. But even as the people were being blessed, an Assyrian King named Sennacherib came against them with his powerful army.

There are a couple of lessons in this as well. First, we’re always just moments away from something beyond our control. It can be going well, and then, “Bam!” This usually happens right when you’re thinking, “Hey, I got this.”

Second, success sometimes brings haters with it. People often confuse confidence with arrogance. Occasionally, people would rather see you fall, then work to raise themselves up. You can’t let that stop you.

The Assyrian representatives made demands of Hezekiah and his people. When that didn’t work, the Assyrians ridiculed Hezekiah and his God, in front of his people. They waged a war of public relations to turn the people against him.

It may have been working, because the Bible says, “King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this.” Sometimes all we can do is cry out in prayer.

God answered by sending his angel, who destroyed all the Assyrian fighting men, and King Sennacherib returned to his own country in disgrace. When he got there, his own sons killed him. God’s solution might be a little different from what you expected.

Hezekiah and Judah were respected by all nations, and the Bible says that God “took care of them on every side.” Oh, that our nation could return to this status.

The last point that strikes me in the story of Hezekiah is that even a great king can make some mistakes. Near the end of his life, Hezekiah became very ill, almost dying. But he prayed for help, and received a miraculous healing.

Unfortunately, his “heart was proud,” which caused problems for both him and Judah. Our pride often gets the best of us, and can turn us away from our strengths. A heart of gratitude will go a long way to prevent that.

In the end, Hezekiah was one of the good ones, and he “succeeded in everything he undertook.” He left an amazing legacy of faith and prosperity, and the Bible says, “All Judah and Jerusalem honored him when he died.” A great leader, and a great example!

“Be With You” Video Just Released!

After climbing to #8 on the Inspirational Country chart, Tom’s new single “Be With You” is receiving air play on radio stations across the country. Now the official music video has also been released. Check it out!

Here is the uploaded link from the Tom Dolan official YouTube channel:

Tom Dolan – Be With You (Official Music Video)

Artist: Tom Dolan
Song: Be With You

© 2016 Tom Dolan Music
http://www.TomDolanMusic.com
http://www.cdbaby.com/artist/TomDolan
http://www.christianmusictown.com/artist/tom_dolan/
 

Take the Right Road

forestSo many times, we go down a road we shouldn’t.  We watch that show that we know is too violent. We entertain a thought that we know we should flee from. We grab that bag of ____________ (fill in the blank) and just keep on eating.

We know going in, that going down that road is going to result in nothing good. But still we do it. Why is the pull so strong that even knowing better, we jump in anyway? For what reason do we willingly give up our reason, and knowingly participate in our own destruction?

Ok, that one sounds over the top. But who doesn’t know smoking causes cancer? Who is unaware that obesity carries heart disease, diabetes, and a host of other problems with it? Who doesn’t know that a simple flirty conversation can lead to something more?

Yet we continue to dance with the devil, whether he comes packaged as an oversized bag of Cheetos and a 2 Liter of Pepsi, or a view on website that just happened to pop up. Or maybe it’s by responding to the suggestion that “it’s just this one time…”.

If we’re to take Jesus at his word, even spending time thinking about a wrong thing reveals a problem in our heart. He used the “s” word, but we don’t want to hear too much about that. It makes us uncomfortable, and draws a line in the sand that we’d rather just see disappear. Especially when it’s our own particular vice we’re confronted with.

I really admire people who can say no to things; who have a discipline about them; a level of self-control that carries them through these challenges. I also worry about those who can’t seem to say no to something, whatever it is.

Addiction’s addiction, whatever your pill happens to be. None of it ends well. We can be addicted to Facebook, smart phones, danger, excitement, sex, drugs, rock-and-roll, fame, pain, power, food, football, watching a TV series, and even working out (yes, even working out). I’m pretty sure the list is probably longer.

Here’s a test. Try doing without the one thing that you say you can do without. Do it for a day. Just a day. If it’s something that really has a hold on you, you might not be able to. At that point, you might start making excuses like, “This is stupid, I can do what I want anyway.” Houston, we have a problem.

What we need is balance. But balance requires clear and right thinking, and that’s hard to do when we’re obsessing. So how do we get there? How can we beat our own propensity for landing in the same old problems?

One way is replacement. Carve out the bad thing and replace it with something better. Try a healthier snack sometimes, instead of the whole package of ____________ (fill in the blank). Sometimes it takes small steps, but small steps can really take you somewhere, if you keep on taking them.

Be careful who you associate with. If the people you hang around with are doing the wrong things, you probably are too. But if they’re trying to improve, then you probably will too. Get around people who will lift you up.

Love what you do, and love the people around you. Love them more than the thing you’re tempted to do. It’s in that space, where many people find their reason “not to.”

Finally, never discount the power of prayer. There’s something to it that goes beyond normal comprehension. When even small steps aren’t possible, we need someone bigger than all of it. That would be the One who made you.

Let’s quit causing problems for ourselves. Instead, let’s start making progress. It won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it!