The Opposite of the Truth

Do you ever notice a Facebook status or text message where the person on the other end is using CAPS to emphasize a point?  Depending on the message, you might feel like they’re SCREAMING at you (and maybe they are), or perhaps they’re just trying to get attention.  I’ve been sharing great quotes all week and this next one really did GET MY ATTENTION.

You say, “We’ve taken out good life insurance, we’ve hedged all our bets, covered all our bases.  No disaster can touch us.  We’ve thought of everything.  We’re advised by the experts.  We’re set.”  But the Master, GOD, has something to say to this:  “Watch closely.  I’m laying a foundation in Zion, a solid granite foundation, squared and true.  And this is the meaning of the stone:  A TRUSTING LIFE WON’T TOPPLE.”  — Isaiah 28:15-16 [MSG]

You cannot fail if you trust God instead of trusting your religious leaders, political leaders, peers, family members or most of all, yourself.  It’s all about Him; not about us.

Here are some other great quotes I’ve come across recently.  This first event occurred during the reign of Hezekiah of Judah.  I must admit, I wrote a “WOW” next to this quote in my journal.

There were a lot of people, especially those from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, who did not eat at the Passover meal because they had not prepared themselves adequately.  Hezekiah prayed for these as follows:  “May GOD who is all good, pardon and forgive everyone who sincerely desires GOD, the God of our ancestors.  Even — especially! — these who do not meet the literal conditions stated for access to The Temple. GOD responded to Hezekiah’s prayer and healed the people.  — 2 Chronicles 30:18-20 [MSG]

After Hezekiah brought a great reform to the nation — removing all idols and pagan shrines and altars from both Israel and Judah (the most evil ones were altars where parents were bringing their own living children to sacrifice to the gods) — he was told by God through the prophet Isaiah that he was about to die.  He turned his head away from Isaiah and towards the wall (towards God in his mind) and prayed.  God heard his prayer and gave him 15 more years of life.

This is what Hezekiah king of Judah wrote after he’d been sick and then recovered from his sickness:

In the very prime of life I have to leave.  Whatever time I have left is spent in death’s waiting room.  No more glimpses of GOD in the land of the living.  No more meetings with my neighbors, no more rubbing shoulders with friends…I cry for help until morning…My eyes ache from looking up for help:  “Master, I’m in trouble!  Get me out of this!”  But what’s the use?  God himself gave me the word.  He’s done it to me.  I can’t sleep–I’m that upset, that troubled.

O Master, these are the conditions in which people live, and yes, in these very conditions my spirit is still alive–fully recovered with a fresh infusion of life!  It seems it was good for me to go through all those troubles.  Throughout them all you held tight to my lifeline.  You never let me tumble over the edge into nothing.  But my sins you let go of, threw them over your shoulder — good riddance!  … GOD saves and will save me.  As fiddles and mandolins strike up the tunes, we’ll sing, oh we’ll sing, sing, for the rest of our lives in the Sanctuary of GOD.  — Isaiah 38:9-20 [MSG]

I’ve debated in my mind whether is was good for God to give in to Hezekiah, in a way, and allow him to live an extra 15 years.  During those years, Hezekiah’s wife gave birth to Manasseh, perhaps the most wicked king of Judah’s history, who led the people back into the worship of idols and into the sacrifice of innocent children.  But the story doesn’t end there.

But Manasseh led Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem off the beaten path into practices of evil exceeding even the evil of the pagan nations that GOD had earlier destroyed.  When GOD spoke to Manasseh and his people about this, they ignored him.

Then GOD directed the leaders of the troops of the king of Assyria to come after Manasseh.  They put a hook in his nose, shackles on his feet, and took him off to Babylon.  Now that he was in trouble, he went to his knees in prayer asking for help–total repentance before the God of his ancestors.  As he prayed, GOD was touched:  GOD listened and brought him back to Jerusalem as king.  That convinced Manasseh that GOD was in control…He also did a good spring cleaning on The Temple, carting out the pagan idols and the goddess statue.  He took all the altars he had set up on The Temple hill and throughout Jerusalem and dumped them outside the city.  He put the Altar of GOD back in working order and restored worship, sacrificing Peace-Offerings and Thank-Offerings.  He issued orders to the people:  “You shall serve and worship GOD, the God of Israel.”  But the people didn’t take him seriously–they used the name “GOD” but kept on going to the old pagan neighborhood shrines and doing the same old things. — 2 Chronicles 33:9-17 [MSG]

Did you notice the point of these events?  Both Hezekiah and Manasseh learned that God was real and that He was in control.  Once they realized this, they wanted all the people to turn to the true God, but you can’t force people to worship God.  It has to come from within — it’s something only God can do — place that little seed of curiosity and need within a person to cause them to seek Him.  Once you find Him, you will find that salvation is free, not earned, and that He’s for you, not against you.

Some people ignore that inner voice, the inner desire to know truth.  Others get caught up in religions that try to “please” God through good works and obedient lives (in actuality, they fall far short of either one).  Instead, as we draw near to Him in faith and trust, the good works are a result of that relationship with Him, not something we do to try to please Him.  That’s what was wrong with the pagan religions of Hezekiah’s day — not only were they sacrificing children to their “gods,” but they were doing this to try to appease the gods, to try to please them, to be “saved” from the dangers and sorrows of life and from the gods themselves.  In short, they were believing the exact opposite of the truth.

 

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