Friday, November 9, 2012

2 Kings 20 & 21 Unlike Father, Unlike Son

2 Kings 20:1-7 In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, "This is what the Lord says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover." Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, "Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Before Isaiah had left the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: "Go back and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people, 'This is what the Lord, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you. On the third day from now you will go up to the temple of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life. And I will deliver you and this city from the hand of the king of Assyria. I will defend this city for my sake and for the sake of my servant David.'" Then Isaiah said, "Prepare a poultice of figs." They did so and applied it to the boil, and he recovered. 

2 Kings 21:10-16 The Lord said through his servants the prophets: "Manasseh king of Judah has committed these detestable sins. He has done more evil than the Amorites who preceded him and has led Judah into sin with his idols. Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle. I will stretch out over Jerusalem the measuring line used against Samaria and the plumb line used against the house of Ahab. I will wipe out Jerusalem as one wipes a dish, wiping it and turning it upside down. I will forsake the remnant of my inheritance and hand them over to their enemies. They will be looted and plundered by all their foes, because they have done evil in my eyes and have provoked me to anger from the day their forefathers came out of Egypt until this day." Moreover, Manasseh also shed so much innocent blood that he filled Jerusalem from end to end — besides the sin that he had caused Judah to commit, so that they did evil in the eyes of the Lord. 

Hezekiah was one of the more godly kings of Judah. And when he was sick and on the point of death, he cried out to God and God healed him. However, his son Manasseh was the complete opposite of him: he became one of Judah's most reprehensible king. He not only led Judah into into sin with his idols. He "sacrificed his own son in the fire, practiced sorcery and divination, and consulted mediums and spiritists" (2 Kings 21:6). He outdid even the Amorites who practised all these abominations. Just as Samaria had fallen to Assyrians in 722 BC, Jerusalem would soon fall to Babylonians in 586 BC.

God's judgement against nations may not always be immediate, but when a nation continues to practise wickedness despite his warning, his judgement will follow  like night follows day. From the prophetic word given about Manasseh--"I am going to bring such disaster on Jerusalem and Judah that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle"--it is clear that God was the initiator of the disaster coming upon Jerusalem and Judah. It's a consequence of a personal will of God, not the result of impersonal forces of cause & effect. While this truth may be unpalatable for some modern ears to receive, this is what Scripture says. 

But what is sadder about this episode is that Manasseh was a son of one of the most godly kings of Judah, Hezekiah. While we would like to believe that godliness is like a spiritual gene that can be passed down to the next generation automatically, unfortunately, the truth is this is not the case. Each generation must respond to the Gospel afresh. There is an urgent need not to take the faith of second generation children and youths of Christian parents for granted. We have to work as hard to evangelize them as we would outsiders.

But just as I have heard churches say that their calling is "not evangelism", so I suppose they don't even evangelise the insiders. They are like Hezekiah, quite happy that the disaster that Isaiah prophesied to him (after he showed all the treasures of Judah to the visiting Babylonian emissaries) would not come in his generation: "'The word of the Lord you have spoken is good," Hezekiah replied. For he thought, 'Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?'" Christian parents who have no passion to evangelise outsiders also have little passion to evangelize the insiders (their own children). If this persists, an entire generation of church kids will remain unevangelized and backslide into unbelief when this present adult generation passes on.

What I see happening in many churches is a lack of passion for evangelism - both to outsiders and also to insiders. The future of the church is in peril.

Father, help us to be passionate while we still have breath to bring Your Good News to outsiders and insiders. Amen.

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