Wednesday, July 18, 2012


[This is a message I preached last Sunday morning.  I pray that whether you were present to hear it or this is your first encounter with this exposition that God will speak to you through His Word!  Soli Deo Gloria! D.T.]

“In the third year of Israel's King Hoshea son of Elah, Hezekiah son of Ahaz became king of Judah.  He was 25 years old when he became king and reigned 29 years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Abi daughter of Zechariah.  He did what was right in the Lord's sight just as his ancestor David had done.” (2 Kings 18:1-3 HCSB)

Paul warned the Roman Christians about the danger of being conformed to the world.  J.B. Phillips’ translation of Romans 12:2 reads, “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.” 

By the world, we mean the organized system of evil which characterizes unbelievers under the dominion of Satan in this age.  Daily, we face relentless pressure, as the world system seeks to dominate our philosophy, drive our passions and direct our practices as it tries to make us into ungodly clones.

It isn’t hard to give in.  Most people do.  Yet, we are called to be radically different as God’s people. 

We are living for another world—for eternity.  We are to be shaped by the inward power of the Holy Spirit.  Our desire is to become like Christ.  Such radical living requires real courage and resolute convictions.  You must dare to be different. 

Hezekiah did.  His life is a challenge to us.

We are to dare to be DIFFERENT IN OUR ACTIONS.

He did what was right in the Lord's sight just as his ancestor David had done.” (v.3)

This was drastically different from most of the kings of Judah.  Of Ahaz who preceded him it says, “He did what was evil in the Lord's sight” (2 Kings 17:2) and of Manasseh who succeeded him, ““He did what was evil in the Lord's sight” (2 Kings 21:2).  Hezekiah dared to be different.  Will you be? 

There were two motivating factors that aided him and will help us:

THE EYE OF HIS LORD, “He did what was right in the Lord's sight…” (v.3a).  

Hezekiah knew God was always watching.  What a great incentive to do the right thing!  The private sin on earth is a public scandal in heaven.  How we grieve Him, and disappoint Him, after all God has done for us!  He sees; He knows.

But, we should not think of this only in a negative sense. Weigh carefully, these words about the Lord’s eyes:

“For the eyes of Yahweh roam throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His.” (2 Chronicles16:9a HCSB)
Others may take no notice of what we do; there may not be celebration of our faithfulness now.  It is coming on that glorious Day when our Lord bids us welcome to heaven with, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Here’s the promise, “For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you showed for His name when you served the saints—and you continue to serve them.” (Hebrews 6:10 HCSB)

Hezekiah was motivated to different actions by remembering THE EYE OF HIS LORD, but also by THE EXAMPLE IN HIS LINE, “just as his ancestor David had done.” (v.3b) The king looked up to his Heavenly Father, but also back in his line to his forefather.

David wasn’t a perfect man, but he was “a man after God’s own heart.”  Hezekiah knew the legacy of his royal lineage.  David’s devotion inspired Hezekiah to dare to be different.  He grasped that if one man can be faithful to God, then he could. As we read our Bibles and see a Moses, David, Hezekiah or Paul, we are inspired.  Read the biographies of men and women of God throughout Christian history—their stories will stir you.  God uses people.  He can use you.  It is possible to march to a different drum—to the cadence of heaven which is out of step with this world.  Champions of faith challenge us to do dare to be different.


He removed the high places, shattered the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah [poles]. He broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses made, for the Israelites burned incense to it up to that time. He called it Nehushtan.” (v.4) 

Although this records activity, it also discloses Hezekiah’s attitude.  This verse unveils his contempt for that which God condemns. 

The attitude of most of the kings toward idolatry was, at least, to encourage it.  Though they did not always actively engage in it, there were a number who compromised and tolerated it within the borders of the nation.  This encouraged an environment where the evil would flourish. 

Other kings, however, actively embraced it.  Their attitude was no different than the pagan culture.  They were squeezed into its mold. 

Hezekiah was different.  He sought to eradicate it!  Just note his attitude here. 

The Jews had come to venerate the bronze serpent.  You may remember that after Israel escaped slavery, they repeatedly sinned in their unbelief and experienced God’s discipline, accordingly.  One such episode is detailed in Numbers 21.  The Lord sent venomous serpents among the camp—their fiery venom sickening and slaying the sinners.  Moses interceded for them and God told him to fashion a serpent of bronze, place it on a pole and raise it up.  The promise was that just a look at the serpent would heal them.  That was a good thing that directed them to faith in God.

But, the good thing became an evil thing when its purpose was changed—from something meant to direct them to God, to being worshipped as a god. 

Hezekiah had a different attitude.  He called it Nehushtan—the bronze thing.  He destroyed the relic. 

Are we tolerant of evil?  Have we come to cherish that which God condemns?  It is a subtle danger to substitute good things for the one thing—a relationship with God.  We can become so enamored with even church stuff that we neglect to exalt the Lord of the church! 

Right attitudes are important.  Paul’s demand not to be conformed to the world is connected to a renewed mind that is transformed by the Word.  Look at the linkage in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  Our attitude determines our actions, so the writer of Proverbs exhorts, Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” (4:23).  If the spring of our attitude is clean, the stream of our actions will be clear.


Hezekiah trusted in the Lord God of Israel; not one of the kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him.  He remained faithful to Yahweh and did not turn from following Him but kept the commands the Lord had commanded Moses.” (v.5-6) 

The world seeks significance and security in position, possessions and pleasures.  Our sinful age believes that if I attain the right status, I will be significant; if I attain enough stuff, I will be secure; if I attain enough stimulation, I will be satisfied.

That is the path to disappointment for there is nothing this world offers that is enduring.  It’s a dead-end street. 

Consider a different way of significance and security.

Ponder THE OBJECT OF OUR ASSURANCE, “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord God of Israel; not one of the kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him.”  (v.5)

God alone is worthy of our faith.  He will never fail us.  All that is of this world will fade and fail.  When we build on the Rock, we find absolute stability.  In Him we are significant and secure in His passion and purpose for us. 

This leads to THE OBEDIENCE IN OUR ASSURANCE, “He remained faithful to Yahweh and did not turn from following Him but kept the commands the Lord had commanded Moses.” (v.6) 

A living faith produces works.  James tells us that “faith without works is dead.”  Hezekiah’s life was marked by connection, “he remained faithful to Yahweh”; consistency, “and did not turn from following Him”; commitment, “but kept the commands the Lord had commanded Moses.” 

Hezekiah models a man who dared to be different in actions, attitudes, assurance.  He also challenges us to be DIFFERENT IN OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

“The Lord was with him, and wherever he went he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.  He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its borders, from watchtower to fortified city.” (v.7-8) 

Several of the wicked kings experienced worldly success.  Could we find much difference in the military power Ahab, King of Israel, wielded and the economic prosperity he enjoyed when compared to that of Hezekiah?  Both were powerful monarchs.  Yet, in the end, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”  Today, would you rather be Hezekiah in heaven or Ahab in hell?

We must know THE BASIS OF TRUE SUCCESS, “The Lord was with him…” (v.7a). That is true success.  It is having all the resources we need here and all the rewards we can store up hereafter.  Irrespective of worldly ways of gauging success, God says this is what counts.  And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God's will remains forever.” (1 John 2:17 HCSB)

Then, there will be THE BOUNTY OF TRUE SUCCESS, “and wherever he went he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.  He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its borders, from watchtower to fortified city.” (v.7b-8) 

He was successful in all he did. Psalm 37:4 says, “Take delight in the Lord,
and He will give you your heart's desires.”
Hezekiah lived in victory.  This is the Matthew 6:33 principle: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” 

Larry Bird dared to be different.  Because of that, he won three NBA championships with the Boston Celtics, and is in the Hall of Fame. 

He wasn’t different in that he was the tallest player—he wasn’t.  Neither was he the quickest, nor could jump the highest.  But he was fundamentally superior to most  because he practiced relentlessly.  His discipline made the difference. 

Here is what he said,

As a kid, I always thought I was behind and I needed that extra hour to catch up. Jim Jones [his coach] once told me, ‘No matter how many shots you take, somewhere there’s a kid out there taking one more. If you dribble a million times a day, someone is dribbling a million and one.’

Whenever I’d get ready to call it a day, I’d think, ‘No. Somebody else is still practicing.

Somebody—somewhere—is playing that extra ten or fifteen minutes and he’s going to beat me someday.’ I’d practice some more and then I’d think, ‘Maybe that guy is practicing his free throws now.’ So I’d go to the line and practice my free throws and that would take another hour. I don’t know if I practiced more than anybody, but I sure practiced enough. I still wonder if somebody—somewhere—was practicing more than me.” (“Drive,” Bird, 1990, pp. 283–284)

This is how Larry Bird describes what made the difference in his game. Larry Bird dared to be different—and for what—fame and fortune—as a champion in his sport.  But, that glory fades.  That gain will be left behind.  All that work for so little that counts beyond this life!

How much more should we dare to be different!  What do we, as the people of God, have waiting for us? 

“Don't you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.  Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-25 HCSB)

Being different now will make a difference in those you reach on earth, and a difference in your reward in eternity.  So—dare to be different!

No comments: