The Kings II 22 – Torn: Look What I Found

The 26 year old monarch had established himself as a refreshingly godly kind of King. For the majority of his conscious life he ruled the kingdom of Judah and endeavoured to do so in a way like David the standard of kings. 

So it was understandable that he would have a concern for the temple of the Lord. His request for the house of God to be properly maintained was very similar to the last godly king of Judah, his great grandfather Hezekiah. On this occasion, however, the extent of the disrepair of the house of the Lord and reflecting the state of the nation, the priest discovered something that had seemingly been disregarded for a long time. The book of the law – the written basis of the covenant relationship between God and His people. Not only did the priest feel it was worth his while reading it but that this young monarch should hear what it has to say. 

It is the response of this young man that leaves such a strong impact on this reader. He heard the Word of God and he tore his robes. An utter and abject sense of the state of the people in such a sorry condition in comparison to the requirements of their Lord and Redeemer. The outward expression of the inner despair. This was not something to take lightly or glibly. Such was his heart to God that hearing His Word and being only too aware of the state of the people compelled him to a state of godly sorrow. 

The prophetic word that followed it confirmed his reason for such anguish. Judah, like the northern kingdom of Israel, had gone too far. Their failure to worship the true and living God who had delivered them from slavery and abide by the covenant was to bring about the necessary consequences. God would render His judgment and Judah would face His anger. 

And yet … 

The contrite, sensitive and repentant response of King Josiah was enough to spare him from the impending judgment. The response to God’s Word enabled this young man to be found favourably in His sight and have the assurance of ending his days in peace on the throne of David. 

For some this would be reason to relax, but as we will see this would be the foundation for something truly incredible. All this, however, started with a godly character concerned with the place God chooses to dwell in and a resultant sensitivity to the Word of the Lord. Such a set up are the ingredients God can use to do great things. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

My Word

Back in the day, I loved the commentary styles of the likes of David Coleman, Brian Moore, Barry Davies and John Motson. If you’re not interested in sport and English commentary on the variety of sport then this won’t mean much to you, but it meant heaps to me for years. Apparently there was some large global multi-sport experience that took place recently, but I was not that interested in any aspect of it. I didn’t watch any of the events and the results mattered very little to me. The event itself, though, reminded me of the 1980’s into the early 1990’s when I paid more attention to the competition and it was the commentary that had me hooked. In and amongst the excitement the commentators would bring to the action I can hear ringing in my ears the distinguished and considered phrases used to describe the elation and exhilaration of key moments in the competition. One phrase that was distinct and expressed exclamation brilliantly was the simple phrase, ‘My word’. It was so sweet hearing that phrase to convey the heightened level of attention to that which the commentator beheld. 

Decades later and the phrase has added meaning and value to me. It says something of my ambition in doing and saying. It says something about my desire to be an ever more effective and excellent communicator carrying across Christ in any setting I am in. It says something about the joy I have in cherishing the value of what emits from me when inspired by God in spoken or written form. It says something about the legacy in the hearts and minds of others when they recall experiences with me. Others have their music, their craft, their culinary delights, their mesmerising dance, their awe-inspiring architecture, their compassion for children, their ability to create communal facilities that enhances life for others. I dedicate my life again to employing the greatest gift God has given me. It’s for the benefit of others and for the glory of His Name. It may not mean much to some, but it will mean life for others. I dedicated my life to joyfully use that gloriously simple phrase. 

My word. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings II 21 – Judgment of Judah 

Hezekiah had represented a great height of integrity and devotion to God from the throne in the southern kingdom of Judah. It is strange, then, that his son who succeeded him, would be such a complete contrast. 

The twenty-first chapter of 2 Kings, however, depicts Manasseh, a king so wicked that he had no issue placing idol worship in the temple of the Lord and restoring things his father had abolished. He had no compunction seeing his son sacrificed to flames for the sake of his idolatry. The evil he promoted took the people of Judah to the point of judgment from the Almighty. When God condemns you it is a clear sign you have significantly missed the mark where He is concerned. 

The judgment God decreed on the kingdom was not on a whim. He had seen time and again how His people continually rebelled against God. The agreement was straight forward, they could continue to have their Redeemer as their Lord as long as they remained faithful to Him. Their flagrant neglect of that condition, their refusal to listen and obey incurred the necessary consequences. 

God goes to a no-holds barred approach. Talk of wiping Judah and Jerusalem like someone wiped a dish highlights just what He will do when evil rears its ugly head. When covenant relationship is broken by the weaker party, God will not allow this to go without dealing with it severely. It is a matter of righteousness. 

Despite this, things don’t get  any better with Manasseh’s successor, Amon. There is enough said in his very brief reign to see him following in his father’s footsteps. Reinforcing the evil of his Dad raised the stink of iniquity all the more, understandably arousing the anger of God. 

This goes to show that fatherhood – good or bad – can influence those who come afterwards. Whether that influence sees acceptance of evil as was the case with Amon, or rejecting it completely, as Manasseh. Having the influence of a father figure should be an indicator to the original Father so that all will be well as long as we remain faithful to Him. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Let Relationships Develop 

If I had a penny for every time I have been informed how we live in a microwave society looking for the quick fix, I would be rich enough to buy quite a number of microwaves. 

I am sure there’s a degree of truth to it, but it’s advanced as though things were so much better yesteryear when at best things were different. Very different to the degree that we can make that critical analysis of the day and age we live in. For all that though, it is not a modern problem. Impatience has been a key factor driving technological progress – we don’t want to necessarily go through long processes to reach outcomes, we desire the outcome as soon as possible if not sooner. 

That’s evident in the expectations for relationships. One slight, one hurt, one indiscretion and the barriers go up and it’s typical humanity. Anything that suggests the mere absence of genuine warmth and hospitality and there’s the conclusion this person is not ready for friendship. What we all need is a little more time. A little more intentional time for each other, a little more intentional time that allows the relationship to develop so that there’s more content and context to work from. It’s what we need for ourselves, but it’s what we struggle to give to others. 

Some of us are too quick, some of us are too ponderous, sometimes we get too intense, other times we appear far too distant. Yet give us time, create the space and then experience the blessing of the relational interaction. 

We just need more time for the relationship to develop. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings II 20 – Hezekiah: Healed and Overexposed

Judah never had a king like Hezekiah. His reign represented a high point in the age of the monarchy in the southern kingdom. They had not had it so good before and they would not have it that good again. 

When he was struck ill with a sickness that should have lead to his death, his cry to the Lord showed a man desperate to live on and able to relate to God because of his passion and commitment to the Lord. It was another opportunity for God to show Himself to be glorified through His healing power. Hezekiah knew where to go in times of trouble and he was able to go there because of his track record. He was fully devoted to the things of God and that counted for much in His eyes. As seen in the previous chapter, not only would God heal Hezekiah, He would ensure that the city and southern kingdom would be protected from Assyria. 

The new lease of life and the protection of the Lord put Hezekiah in a very strong position. From the brink of death and defeat, Hezekiah experienced healing and victory. His reputation had reached far abroad and his condition had even affected the distant region of Babylon for them to show their care. Yet it as the moment of great victory and great strength that we are at our most vulnerable. 

It was one thing to be hospitable to the son of the Babylonian, it was something else to go to great lengths to show everything under his roof. It was as if the renewed Hezekiah was revelling in his strength and as a result exposed everything to strangers. It was Hezekiah showing too much to those he did not know and that degree of overexposure was to have severe consequences in generations to come. Hezekiah’s response to the prophetic insight given by Isaiah is strange. It highlights a selfishness that highlights a flaw in even the most upright of kings since David. It was Hezekiah saying at least he wouldn’t suffer even if his children’s children and beyond would. 

It’s a summary note to be aware of what we do in the light of the victories God grants us. It’s not for us to boast in what we have, it’s for us to boast in who we have that has given us so many victories. That’s the real fruit of success and in doing so we may well set things in place that will bless those near and far, from this time with an impact that spans generations in giving glory to the Lord who heals and delivers us. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Defeat as a Prelude to Victory

Losing is a good reason to believe you’re a loser. Losing as a habit can set up a condition that expects it every time out. 

This is not always the case. There are opportunities for patterns of losing to be the prelude to victory. That requires a determination to approach the next game better equipped from the last experience and maintaining hope, confidence and belief even against overwhelming odds. 

The equanimity to not get too downhearted by defeat will also allow for an appropriate appreciation of victory when it happens. Seeing every new opportunity as the chance for victory as we learn from the defeats never let’s the head stay down. It keeps the head up and never be too downcast. There are brighter days ahead. As long as there is the desire, the focus and the trust it makes the effort worthwhile. 

At times it requires encouraging the self, but that’s a great exercise in developing good character that will bear good fruit in other areas of life. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings II 19 – Assyria vs Judah Part 2: The Triumph

The Assyrian challenge had a troubling effect on the people of Judah. Their threats were backed up by a record of their victories that could not be denied. They came with their words set to mock Yahweh and intimidate and humiliate the people. 

Hezekiah’s initial response was to get the voice of the Lord on the matter. That initial response got a word of consolation from God only for the Assyrians to come back again with another taunt and threat to make Judah follow the line of cities that had fallen for the power of Assyria. 

When this message reached Hezekiah, he took the matter himself to the Lord and his prayer shows much to learn from. First Hezekiah reminded God of who He was, then He highlighted the record of Assyria, but his tone changed after outlining the facts of Assyria to pointing out the truth of who God is. His request at the end was not about self-preservation, His request was for the glory of God to have an impact around the nations. 

God’s response through the prophet Isaiah puts everything in perspective. Assyria had messed with the wrong God. They had messed with the Holy One of Israel. They thought their achievements were self-willed, not understanding their fate was always in God’s hand. The same hand that raised them would be the same hand that would bring them down. (There’s also a fascinating insight into God’s commitment to ensure a remnant remains – planted and fruitful.) 

It’s one thing for the Word of God to declare He Himself will defend His people, it’s even more remarkable to see how that word is fulfilled. The devastating defeat of the Assyrian perpetuated by God Himself was such a routing that even the Assyrian King had to take the hint, return the way he came to face his own fatal end to fulfil the Word of consolation God had given to Hezekiah in the initial response. 

This astounding victory yet again proved to the world that the God of Israel is the one true and living God, Creator of heaven and earth. When we find ourselves bullied by various forces looking to ridicule our God, intimidate, belittle and humiliate us, we don’t need to take up any physical weaponry, we don’t have to look to outgun the enemy. We need to remember where those threats need to be turned over to. We need to remember who has the bigger perspective on the matter. We need to be reassured of who we belong to and whose honour and glory is at stake. 

When we remember these truths the facts of the adversary wither and triumph for God is once more assured. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden