But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
Hezekiah was the crusade leader for Judah. He was excited about worshiping God. He even invited those from the northern kingdom, Israel, to come down to Jerusalem and worship with them. Outside of David and Solomon, no other king of Judah is as celebrated as Hezekiah. None after him nor any before him compared to his devotion (2 Kings 18:5).
As you read the last verse of 2 Chronicles 31, it is clear Hezekiah was all in. “And in every work that he began…he did it with all his heart, and prospered.” With all his heart—that is an interesting phrase. There are a lot of people who are doing things with all their heart. Some pray the rosary with all their heart. Others help in disaster relief with all their heart. Some “pioneer” by knocking on doors for their system of beliefs with all their heart. Some lead area-wide crusades with all their heart. Is this the standard for doing what is right? Does it mean, if you do something with all your heart, you will prosper? Is the key to success simply you should want it more than the next person?
If the standard of right was “all your heart” there would be many things worthy of your pursuit. However, your heart is desperately wicked. You cannot even trust the pursuit of your heart. There must be a guide for hearts on fire. Notice Hezekiah’s guide: “Hezekiah…wrought that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God…in the commandments” (2 Chronicles 31:20-21). The word “truth” describes things which are honest, sure, and lasting. The only thing worth doing is the thing that is eternal. Seek heavenly things (Colossian 3:1). Do the work of God with all your heart according to the commandments of God. There are many “crusades” you could join, but only those who do it with all their heart according to the instructions of God are lasting.
“If only my situation were different.”
“If only I had more time/money/friends.”
Some of the most destructive words in your vocabulary are “if only.” It flushes everything you have in order to make room for to wish for what you haven’t. Horatio Spafford lived through the devastation of the Chicago fire. As a prominent businessman, he was poised to bounce back from the catastrophe. In the meantime, he and his family would enjoy a vacation in England. There they would be refreshed and assist his friend, D. L. Moody in the evangelistic services. The day the ship sailed for England, Horatio was unavoidably detained due to business matters. He kissed his wife and three daughters telling them he would follow them shortly. He never saw his daughters again. There was a collision at sea and the ship sank rapidly. His wife was saved with only a few other passengers.
Spafford could have said many “if only” statements. “If only I had been there. If only I had not sent them alone. If only we hadn’t lost so much in the fire.” As you can see, “if only” does not stop naturally. Before you know it, you may as well say, “If only I were God!”
You can’t be God, but you can rest in Him. Someone has said, “Peace is not the absence of difficulty, but the presence of God.”
Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on thee: Because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: For in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: (Isaiah 26:3-4)
Spafford’s personal reflection as he did later sail over the place his daughter sank to their watery grave is engraved in the chorus of words he wrote. “It is well with my soul.” God is in control of the details. He is even in charge of the immaterial souls of men. Trust in the Lord forever.
Have you found yourself disappointed as you look longingly over the horizon? Can you relate to the father of the prodigal son who probably daily searched the crest of the hill for his son’s return? The Bible is accurate when it says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12). Isaiah 22-25 presents a unique contrast in the sources of hope.
A rare personal denunciation takes place in Isaiah 22 when he speaks against Shebna. We all are often focused on our homes, our gardens, our children, our schedules, and our hobbies. It is a unique person who serves the people around them. Shebna was a trusted government official. Yet, he was consumed with his own affairs and did not take much interest in his responsibility to care for the people. He was more concerned with his sepulcher than with serving. Isaiah tells Shebna he will die in another land and will be forgotten. If he was not concerned with others; others would not concern themselves with him. It appears he would be deprived of the thing for which he labored most—his sepulcher.
His replacement was going to be a man named Eliakim which means “my servant.” He would be everyone’s hero. All their hope would rest on this man. As great as the man Eliakim was he could not bear the burden of Judah’s hope. Isaiah uses the picture of a nail that bears too much weight and it is broken. Eliakim was noble. He was faithful, but he was only a man.
Another Servant would need to bear the hope of the whole world! The next couple of chapters uses the illustration of Shebna’s demise applied to the world. Those in the world who are consumed with themselves will be deprived of the things they desired most. The earth will be cleansed of self-seeking people who reject God and despise serving Him. But the Servant of the Lord will bring salvation. Those who hoped in Him will be rewarded. All the suffering will become a celebration. Death will be swallowed up in the victory.
And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; We have waited for him, and he will save us: This is the Lord; we have waited for him, We will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. (Isaiah 25:9)
Hope thou in God, and serve Him. In the end, your wait will be rewarded.
Since the Garden of Eden, mankind has done everything in their power to return the world to such a peaceful existence. Plato described his theory as to how it could come about in The Republic. Thomas Moore wrote his treatise on peace called Utopia. Artists have tried to capture the image of what such a society would look like. In 1840, eighty utopian settlements were founded by people like Nathaniel Hawthorne and the father of Louisa May Alcott. One such society took to making eating utensils. The name of the tableware is well-known while the society for peace has faded—Oneida. Peace is a marvelous desire, but men and women cannot maintain the tenuous balance.
The only guarantee for a perfectly peaceful society rests upon a perfect ruler. The perfect ruler cannot resort to man’s methods of war and conquest. For centuries, these have been the brutal tool to subjugate sovereign nations into peaceful federations. The perfect ruler cannot lean upon conventional wisdom. “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish” (James 3:14-15).
The perfect ruler cannot shrewdly use the trends of the time. He must be timeless and he can never transfer power to another. His right to rule in perfect peace rests upon His supremacy above all others. He must be unparalleled.
The perfect ruler cannot crush and humiliate his people with tyrannical force. He must use the weapons of peace, the strategy of heavenly wisdom, the compassion of a loving father, and the discernment of eternal experience. The Perfect Ruler has always been, but he invaded our world in the innocence of a cooing baby two thousand years ago. He instructed the interested with his heavenly wisdom. he intreated the sinner with His compassion. He is Jesus Christ and He will return to rule and reign.
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: And the government shall be upon his shoulder: And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)