A couple days ago, I felt the Lord told me to study the story of Hezekiah. Where did that come from? I can only deduct from heaven, because I hadn’t even remembered there was a Hezekiah. My first instinct was to whip my Bible open to the book of Hezekiah. After checking my memory of the Minor Prophets, I realized it didn’t exist. I then thought I must have misunderstood the Lord.
So, I proceeded into Isaiah, which is a book quickly rising to the top of my favorites. I started in chapter 6 and then back-tracked to the start. What do I find? Hezekiah’s name in the first verse of the book! So, that was a bit of confirmation. I was supposed to study him after all!
A quick check of my concordance revealed that there was more than a little information about this guy. Turns out, he was pretty much the best king of Judah ever. I had also highlighted quite a bit of his story, so apparently I read it before. Just hadn’t remembered much about it.
I won’t go into details about his reign. Check it out yourself starting in II Kings 18 and II Chronicles 29. He was sweet.
What I became troubled about was the story following Hezekiah’s–the one about Manasseh. He was pretty much the worst king ever. He became king when he was 12 years old and led his peopel through 55 years of rebellion and idol worship.
When I checked out my Bible’s commentary about Manasseh, this really jumped out to me:
His reign of 55 years was the longest of any of the kings of the divided kingdom. Externally, the period was one of political stability. It is known as the Assyrian Peace … However, the length of Manasseh’s reign does not indicate a good rule, but rather God’s persevering mercy and faithfulness to the Davidic covenant.
It hit me how false worldly security can be. We are often in search of peace and contentment so that we can settle down and enjoy life and worship God. But peace isn’t always what the Lord has on our plate.
I remember one time at church, I was desperately seeking the Lord for peace. As I often do, I turned to my concordance and sought out some passages on “peace”. Matt. 10:34’s pull-quote in my concordance reads: “that I came to bring peace”. So, I turned there, hoping to find some soothing Jesus-words. I should have known better; Jesus wasn’t and isn’t always soothing. In painful irony, this is what the passage really says:
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.
Are you kidding me? Apparently peace wasn’t what I needed at the time; it was simply what I wanted. Now, if I would have been wise, I would have simply turned to my favorite passage of scripture (John 14-17) and read in 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you…” But I was guided a different direction and found that I shouldn’t be pursuing peace; I should be pursuing Him. He’ll give me what I need, and it isn’t necessarily what I want or what I thought I needed.
How often are we simply living in “God’s persevering mercy and faithfulness” and not doing what he wishes us to be doing? How often are we seeking–and often finding–“peace,” only to actually be putting ourselves under Manassehic oppression and bondage? We’re called to be overcomers and more than conquerers; this implies that there are things to overcome and things to conquer.
I’m not saying we should pick fights. But I think we should expect them. Hezekiah and Manasseh are simply examples.