Sunday, May 20, 2018

Why Bad Things Happen To Good People? Because God Truly Loves Us!


Good morning!
Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

King Hezikiah was the most faithful king before God ever.  God blessed him, and he pleased God.   In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria came to attack the fortified towns of Judah and conquered them.  The Assyrian army was so huge and strong that he could not fight against them.  


King Hezekiah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. I will pay whatever tribute money you demand if you will only withdraw.” (2 Kings 18:14a)  The king of Assyria then demanded a settlement of more than eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold.   It was really enormous amount of silver and gold.   He accepted the huge demand – eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold, which he did not have.  

To gather this amount, King Hezekiah used all the silver stored in the Temple of the LORD and in the palace treasury.   However, he could not collect enough silver and gold to meet the demand.  Hezekiah even stripped the gold from the doors of the LORD’s Temple and from the doorposts he had overlaid with gold.   King Hezekiah’s heart was really saddened.   A really serious hardship found King Hezekiah, the most faithful king ever.   Unfortunately, he took the matter into own hands rather than asking God first.  The most faithful king failed.

God did not leave King Hezekiah alone.  God made the Assyrian king not satisfied even with the eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold.  The Assyrian king sent his chief of staff, and delivered a humiliating message.   King Hezekiah’s officials asked, “Please speak to us in Aramaic, for we understand it well. Don’t speak in Hebrew, for the people on the wall will hear.”   

Then the chief of staff stood and shouted in Hebrew to the people on the wall, “Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria!  This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you from my power.  Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the LORD by saying, ‘The LORD will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’


 “Don’t listen to Hezekiah when he tries to mislead you by saying, ‘The LORD will rescue us!’ Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria?  What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power?  What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the LORD can rescue Jerusalem from me?”

                                                                                                                                                  
King Hezekiah was really in trouble.  He gave everything that he had.   He even stripped off the gold in God’s temple that he really loved and where he met God.   Even so, the Assyrian came back and threatened for him to surrender.   Most of all, they mocked God, and his faith to God, the most precious to him.  (Once we leave our faith.  Our enemies do not leave us alone.  They threaten us, even mock our God, and sadly look down on our faith too. )  

When King Hezekiah heard what was happing at the Jerusalem wall, he concluded that nothing could stop the enemy.   He had been searching for a way out the trouble, but there was none.   Finally, he remembered his God, who could rescue him and his people.   He started seeing what went wrong, when the mighty Assyrians initially invaded.  He did not rely on God.   He was bitter in his heart while reminding he used to be really faithful to God.   He also enjoyed God’s blessings.  Everything went well.   Even Bible records King Hezekiah was the most faithful king.    However, King Hezekiah was a mere human, who was not perfect.  He was slowly and steadily drifting away from God, and more and more relying on himself even without noticing this.   Hezekiah used to do first was to come before God to talk about anything about his life: small, big, good or bad like a child, but for this time, he took the matter in his own hand.


Taking a life challenge to our own hand is our nature built in us -- wanting to be our own master.   We know and confess that God is our king and master, but if everything goes well (due to God’s blessings), we slowly forget the source of the blessing and indulge in our own live.   Gradually and steadily, we replace our God’s kingship in our heart with our own self and ego.   Then when we meet a life challenge, our own kingship surfaces up:  we take all matters into our hands.   We don’t go to God first.  Even the most faithful king ever could not escape this subtle trap, and failed.  After taking lots of beating, King Hezekiah realized who the true king was in his life.   He, then, ran into God.

He tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the Temple of the LORD  And he sent his officials, all dressed in sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah.   They told him, “This is what King Hezekiah says: Today is a day of trouble, insults, and disgrace. It is like when a child is ready to be born, but the mother has no strength to deliver the baby. But perhaps the LORD your God has heard the Assyrian chief of staff, sent by the king to defy the living God, and will punish him for his words. Oh, pray for those of us who are left!”


King Hezekiah humbled, and received God’s answer through the mouth of Prophet Isaiah, “Say to your master, ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian king’s messengers. Listen! I myself will move against him, and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home. So he will return to his land, where I will have him killed with a sword.’” (2 Kings 19:6b)


What a comforting message of God!   Soon King Sennacherib, the Assyrian King received word that King Tirhakah of Ethiopiac was leading an army to fight against him.    Yes, God started moving His mighty hand.    King Hezekiah saw the mighty hand of God.  The Assyrian king suddenly left.   King Hezekiah and his people really relieved.  They thought that the end of the siege was near.   

However, the Assyrian king sent even more threatening message to Hezekiah in Jerusalem.  (Please note that the northern Israel, the sister country which was bigger than the Hezekiah’s kingdom, fell before the Assyrian king.)   The initial relief was short lived.  


“This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don’t let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria. You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different? Have the gods of other nations rescued them—such nations as Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Tel-assar? My predecessors destroyed them all!  What happened to the king of Hamath and the king of Arpad? What happened to the kings of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?”  (2 Kings 19:10-13)

The message was a direct attack on God, the very source of his hope and faith of being saved from the mighty Assyrian king’s army.   Initially the prayer of Isaiah, the most powerful prophet of the time, actually made some change, but the root of the problem did not go away.    The treat was even harsher than before while attacking his last hope: his belief that God would save him and his people.   Hezekiah tried all options including asking prayers to the most powerful prophet at that time.   None really worked.  He was left alone, and felt even more venerable than before.  All of his officials, priests and even Isaiah could not do anything.  Hezekiah was in a real misery.


Have we experienced the situation that Hezekiah experienced?    All of our strength and wisdoms did not work.  In fact, all that we did make the problem even worse.   Then realizing that our sinfulness before God, and making us humble, and even asking prayers of others, such as pastors and prayer warriors.   Then we saw briefly some changes, but the real root of the real problem did persist, which made helpless and hopeless, while putting in misery and pains.   We did not know where to go.  However, later we realized the past pains and miseries were after all, a true manifestation of God love!   God knew our inability to learn this by our own efforts.   Let’s what Hezekiah did.

After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he ran up to the LORD’s Temple and spread it out before the LORD.  Yes, Hezekiah now ran into God.  Then he humbly knelt down before God alone.   Then like a child, he spread out all of his concerns, worries, pains, miseries, and most of all, fears before God.   He authentically poured out his real heart to his true father, the Ever Lasting, Ever Loving, Almighty God.  

                                                                                   
Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the LORD: “O LORD, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God.

“It is true, LORD, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. Now, O LORD our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O LORD, are God.” (2 Kings 19:14-19)

Let’s see how Hezekiah prayed:
        1.       Praised God, the King of kings in heavens and on the earth.  He returned his kingship to God,
        2.       Told his heartbreak against the blaspheming enemy, 
        3.       Shared his real fear with God because he saw what the enemy did to other, and
        4.       Confessed his deepest faith in God, who would rescue him with His mighty hand.


God patiently waited this moment until King Hezekiah completely let down everything and absolutely surrendered before God.   
God moved His mighty hand.  That night the angel of the LORD went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere.  Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.

                               
One day while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with their swords. They then escaped to the land of Ararat, and another son, Esarhaddon, became the next king of Assyria.  This was the end of the Assyrian king who invaded and blasphemed Our God.


Yes, God brought the bad thing into the life of Hezekiah, the most faithful king.  Why?  God dearly loved Hezekiah.  Then God patiently waited until Hezekiah made himself completely emptied and absolutely surrendered before God, and returned His kingship to God.    As we have experienced many times, we all want to be the king in our lives.  This is a deeply rooted desire in our hearts.   However, it is the very source of our spiritual disease spreading out silently till completely taking over ourselves.  As a result, this disease is also the most difficult one to cure.   We need a real strong medicine, which is God’s strong hand gloved with His unfailing love.   Hezekiah then experienced this love of God.   And surely we will too, because God dearly loves us also.    This is our confidence and faith.   Praise the Lord, who is Our Ever-Loving Father, the All Mighty God!
                                                               
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)

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