Monday, February 13

In the hands of a mighty God

At some point last year, I started listening to books on CD, while driving to and fro, hither and yon. Not all the time mind you, but occasionally, about once a month or once every two months.

I went to the local library system that I'm a part of and typed in various fictional authors that I enjoy reading, one of whom being Lynn Austen. I found that she has this series (of 5 books?), that I haven't read, called Chronicles of the Kings, telling a narrative account of King Ahaz, King Hezekiah, and King Manasseh; three kings of Judah. I felt a bit odd checking out a book on CD when I hadn't yet read the actual books but decided to go with it anyways.

I am currently in the middle of the third book and let me tell you, I have laughed and delighted, I have worshipped the Lord, I have been convicted and challenged, I have cried in horror and pain and I have learned. I find that, having not read the books and only being minimally knowledgeable of the Biblical account, that I am engaging with the story on a level that stirs my whole being, more than just if I had read the words.

To summarize, King Ahaz was a king who did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord, or his ancestor King David. He worshipped idols, gave his own sons to be burned for idol worship, and eventually bent his knee to pay annual tribute (tax) to Assyria, the cruel and ruthless power nation of the day, stripping the temple and the country of all it's gold.

When he died, King Hezekiah inherited the bankrupt and desolate country of Judah. Unlike his father, Hezekiah did what was right in the sight of the Lord, following in the steps of King David, tearing down all his father's idolatrous worship sites and reconsecrating the temple for the worship of the Lord. He restored the temple, fortified the city walls of Jerusalem and other Judean towns, and led his people back to the Lord. Through his devotion and obedience of the Lord, the Assyrian yoke was thrown off and the land of Judah once again flourished, in land, in trade, in wealth, and in peace. But a day came when King Hezekiah was filled with pride, taking credit for the things that were bestowed by God alone, and God allowed Hezekiah and Judah to go through a dark time. The Assyrians returned, desperate to squash and rule over this tiny nation that had eluded them before. And yet, despite that Hezekiah's sin had (supposedly?) initiated this chain of events, Hezekiah came before God in repentance and humility, pleading for mercy from the hands of his enemies and God responded, promising to turn away the Assyrians. And this is where I am at in the story.

It was really impressed on me this morning just how humorous and baffling it must have been to the countries around Judah, who were all either demolished by, or captives of, the Assyria tyranny. One little country, seemingly of little significance and military power, throws off the Assyrians not once but twice! Even Israel, the neighboring brothers of Judah, had already been annihilated and taken away as slaves but the little country of Judah remained. One little country whose God was the Creator of Heaven and Earth. One little country who worshipped a God with a mighty arm, more powerful than a hundred chariots or a thousand horses. One little country who witnessed kings and nations rise and fall but by the word of the Lord. His mighty hand, which cradled His people in His loving care while judging the nations who scorned Him.

Our God is so good...this is yet another example of how He graciously and compassionately cares for the vulnerable. And how in the times of brokenness and trepidation, God is still present and in control.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.
Psalm 27:13-14

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