The way to Damascus: Two characters in OT and NT comes in my mind when I think of the journey from Jerusalem to Damascus even though the mission was different.
✅ Ever since Stephen's martyrdom, Saul @ Paul had been persecuting Jews who had become disciples of Jesus Christ. He obtained letters from the high authorities to go and arrest the followers of Jesus who had fled to Damascus and bring them back to Jerusalem for trial.
On the way to Damascus?:
~ Paul saw a blinding light, brighter than the midday sun (Acts 9:3)
~ Paul heard a voice from heaven addressing him by his name.
~ Paul was shocked when the voice said I am Jesus.
Paul had been struck with blindness, and was commanded by Jesus to go to Damascus where his eyesight was restored.
The conviction that the Resurrected Jesus had appeared to him TRANSFORMED Paul forever and became the centre of his life and mission. This is Paul's "Damascus Road Experience "- an encounter with God.
✅ In the book of Kings and Chronicles, it is recorded that "Unlike David, his father, he (AHAZ) did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord. .". 2Kings 16:2- 4; 2Chron 28:1-4 Ahaz opens his reign with a staggering range of IDOLATRIES and ends it with SHUTTING THE DOORS OF THE TEMPLE (28: 1-4, 24).
Beloved, we should not forget that the Prophet Isaiah had encouraged Ahaz (@ 7:4) not to be afraid of the Northern Coalition (@ King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel) with a promise of Immanuel 7:7-14.
✔ But Ahaz had turned a deaf ear to the counsel of Isaiah to trust in God rather than in Assyria. Thus he sent gold and silver as a gift to the King of Assyria, and he himself went to Damascus to meet Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria (2Kings 16:7-10)
On the way to Damascus?
> Ahaz saw an altar in Damascus.
> Ahaz sent the blueprint of the altar to Uriah
> Ahaz gave order to construct the replica of it in the Jerusalem temple.
✔ The records states that when Ahaz returned he was happy to see the altar and he presented his offerings:
~ Burnt Offering
~ Grain Offering
~ Drink Offering
~ Fellowship Offerings
But no Sin Offering.
✔ The wickedness of Ahaz can be summarized:
> He sacrificed his son in the fire
> He offered sacrifices and burned incense at high places
> He removed the Bronze Altar and was replaced by the new altar made by Uriah.
> He took out all the furnishings from the temple of God.
> He shut the doors of the Lord's temple
> He set up altars / high places in every town in Judah and Jerusalem.
✔✔ Ahaz provoked the Lord, the God of his fathers, to anger?
Beloved, Jesus said, "We are in the world but not of the world. He further gave us the commission to go into the world with the Gospel. His rich promise "I am with you always" is with us even if we passes through the roads of Damascus or Samaria.
Glory to God, Mark Boje, ArP
2 Chronicles 31:20–21: “Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right and true before the LORD his God. And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, in the law and in the commandment, to seek his God, HE DID IT WITH ALL HIS HEART. So he prospered.”
Hezekiah became king of Judah when he was twenty-five years old at the very end of the Kingdom of Israel. He reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem.
He was a righteous king of Judah, who sought to restore the basis of the nation both spiritually and politically.
Hezekiah was one of the best kings of Judah, and thus had a long and mostly blessed reign.
Hezekiah is sandwiched between his father, Ahaz, who was Judah’s worst king, and his son, Manasseh, who also followed evil ways.
His mother Abijah was a godly woman and had an important influence on his life.
In Hezekiah’s reign, Judah and the rest of Israel experienced had a great revival.
All the people of Judah reunited under one King, as one nation, one people The Passover feast was also restored.
So…. Hezekiah’s reign was the return to the glory of Solomon’s kingdom.
In verse 9, we saw; “not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the Lord your God.”
There are times in our lives that we may need to stop and check whether we are going in the right direction.
If not…? RETURN…to the LORD… and determine, who is leading our life..
Here in this chapter we read, Hezekiah started all the preparation for celebrating the passover.
He invited every tribe to join them in returning to the LORD.
Many mocked him, but a great number humbled themselves and came to the feast.
The actual celebration of Passover is a very serious business.
While Hezekiah and the priests were very careful to do all that was required in the law of God.
But some of them had not gone through the ritual purification to be able to eat the Passover, but they went ahead and joined in the Passover meal. Hezekiah saw the people participating in the feast without being cleaned.
*Here Hezekiah prayed for them, asking the good LORD to provide mercy.
In response, the LORD listened to Hezekiah and healed the people. .
Here we need to learn a lesson………….
As believers, we need to pray for others.
We are God’s partners on the earth. We pray and He answers.
In our prayer, so often,* it has nothing more than a “bless me” session;* But it should not be like that.
We need to pray for each other,so that God wants to send healing, forgiveness and blessing into the earth and into the lives of people that we each know.
As Hezekiah did in this passage …………… ? let’s pray through the Holy Spirit, to lead us into what to pray for God’s power and mercy …..
Blessed are those who Seek the Lord with all their Hearts
During his reign Hezekiah did many good things... He revived the worship of God according to the Lord's commands. He stationed Levites in the temple of the Lord and they glorified God through their praises. He offered large numbers of sacrifices to the Lord and worshiped the Lord.
But above all these he did some remarkable things which need to be admired and followed by us."
♦He celebrated the Passover in a grand scale.
He sent word through couriers to ALL ISRAEL AND JUDAH, though he did not rule the northern kingdom.
Many ridiculed him and scorned him when they heard this but then a very large number of people paid heed and assembled in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, the Feast of the Unleavened Bread
♦Hezekiah saw that many of the people were not ceremononially clean. Rather than wait for another year, according to what the Lord said to Moses in Numbers 9: 10-13 he commanded them to observe the Feast in the second month instead of the first. This shows his great zeal in God.
The entire assembly rejoiced. There was a great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.
♦Even during the reign of many good kings who ruled Judah the high places were not removed and people continued to offer sacrifices on them (2 Kings 14:4, 2 Kings 12:3). But Hezekiah destroyed all the high places and altars throughout Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manssseh for the Lord had commanded in Deuteronomy 12: 1-14 that they should sacrifice only in His temple
2 Chronicles 31:21 highlights the life of Hezekiah. "In everything that he undertook in the service of the God's temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, Hezekiah sought his God and worked whole heartedly. And so he prospered."
We read of these words, "sought the Lord" in many places in the Bible.
What does seek mean?
It is to" look out ", to try to find something".
What does seeking the Lord mean?
We live on earth fully surrounded by earthly things and our eyes and hearts are always in the world. Seeking the Lord means to deliberately take our eyes from the world and its vanities, and lift them up toward our Lord who is in heaven, to do His will.
David had a goal in his life... "To seek the Lord." In psalm 27:4 he said, "One thing I ask from the Lord, this only I seek, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple"!
Dear friends, what do we seek in our lives?
Are we keen in seeking the worldly things?
Let us remember that the world and everything in it will soon pass away.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."
The Lord said in Jeremiah 29:13, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." So let us, above everything look to the Lord and His strength and seek His face always.
Manjula Premraj, Chennai
2 Chronicles 28 to 31