Tuesday, February 24, 2009

In Unexpected Places

God hides things in unexpected places ...
a baby duck in an egg,

or a moth or butterfly in a cocoon.....

Often He hides the new in the old... like blossoms in an old dead twig....
but I love best how God hides pictures of the New Covenant in the stories of the Old Testament ... treasures hidden in His Word to confirm that truly God planned the end from the beginning.
I happened upon one of these New Covenant pictures the other night in my bible reading. (I was reading II Chron. 28-31)
Let me share with you what I found .....
**
Ahaz’s unenviable epitaph reads thus…. “This is THAT Ahaz!”
Which Ahaz ? The one that “in the time of his distress became increasingly unfaithful to the Lord!”

Ahaz was a king who trusted in man rather than in God and it was his undoing.
When the Philistines and the Edomites came against Judah and carried away captives, instead of crying out to God , he went to the King of Assyria to ask for help - even taking treasures from the house of the Lord as a bribe!
When the King of Assyria was not impressed enough to offer his help, Ahaz appealed to the gods of Damascus, of course to no avail.
Not only did his unfaithfulness to God lead to his own ruin but he took all of Israel with him!
When Ahaz died in his ungodly state, he was not buried in the tombs of the Kings because of his evil deeds.

Ahaz so feared man that he could see, that he lost sight of the God he could not see!

How often are we tempted to trust in man's strength or wisdom instead of immediately turning to God ?
And grieve God's heart that we would trust in the frail when we have His powerful arm extended to us !!!
Do we really believe God's promise in Hebrews 13:5,6 that He will help us and keep us from harm ?
“For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you ! So we may boldly say: "THE LORD IS MY HELPER; I WILL NOT FEAR. WHAT CAN MAN DO TO ME?"

Ahaz’s epitaph is a sorry one! How sad when men refuse to turn from their own futile, prideful ways , digging their own graves. And sadder still when we consider that no one sins alone … our sin, our unfaithfulness, always affects those around us .. often the ones we love best!!

Ahaz was dead – 'the old man' - and in his place the ‘new man’ reigned!
Always, God’s heart is toward the one who repents… who turns away from unrighteousness and toward Him!
God is the God who forgives, who has compassion, who allows us to start over.

The 'new man', Hezekiah took the throne. He turned away from the unfaithfulness of his father and turned his heart toward God !
He opened the doors of the house of the Lord … and called the priests to repent and return to serve the Lord! He declared that “it is in my heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel”

I was delighted to find the first priest that responded to Hezeliah’s call was a priest named Mahath, who was the son of Amasai.
Amasai means ‘burdensome’ and Mahath means “a place where something has been erased”

Do you see the beauty here?
Is our own way not ‘burdensome’ ?
And then , finally, we turn to the Lord … and what is His response?
Does He not take all our sin away ? paid for by His own blood … and He leaves our heart “a place where something has been erased” ? the very sin that so burdened us ??
1Jn 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.

Hezekiah, when the temple was cleansed and ready for ‘service’ , sent a call out to all of Israel ! He called for them to “yield themselves to the Lord, and serve Him” promising that “the Lord your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn His face from you , if you will return to Him! “

Is this not the Father God that we know ? The father standing waiting for the prodigal son to return, watching with a yearning heart so ready to forgive?

But how sad to see the reaction of Israel…. “but they laughed at them and mocked them” .

Have you noticed that once people are offended by ‘Christians’…it is so hard to convince them to turn back to God? How careful we need to be that we do not allow the Ahaz’es to rule among us - not in our own hearts nor can we be silent when we encounter them around us !
And yet God’s compassionate heart calls out .. again and again .. “Return to the Lord God !”

Although the people mocked, there was a remnant that responded… and then there is a verse that so shows us the Father heart ….”Also the hand of God was on ….. them… to give them singleness of heart to obey ….”

Does God not help us to live godly before Him ? He has given us a new heart and He has given us His Holy Spirit to guide us, to comfort us, to strengthen us , to teach us !
1Pe 5:10 “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. “

I found too a beautiful picture of the New Covenant in God’s mercy !
A great multitude of people responded to Hezekiah’s call to return to the Lord God with all their heart!
They were so eager to celebrate the Passover ( which they had not done for a long time) that they did not take the time to sanctify themselves as was the law ! It was a serious omission – yet here what do we read ? Hezekiah prayed “May the Lord provide atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers thought he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary!”
We are told that the Lord heard Hezekiah's prayer "and the Lord healed them!"

Do you see it ?
Here we see God’s heart laid bare! He was not interested in the rituals of the law… even though they were necessary in the Old Covenant. He was ever looking forward to the New Covenant when the law and requirements of the Passover would be taken care of by the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.
The New Covenant saints can take part of the Passover --- not by first cleansing themselves, purifying and sancitifying their homes, and ritualistically performing all the tedious lawful requirements… NO – we can come with only our heart prepared and right before the LORD !

There was an immediate change in the kingdom when the people set their hearts to seek God. We read “there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem” ever before , not since the time of Solomon!

What are we told happened in the kingdom ?

***There was great joy among the people… such that when the celebration of the Passover feast was over .. the cry went up “Let’s do it again !” and so they did !!
A prophetic picture of how we celebrate it today , isn’t it ? over and over again ?

*** Their prayers were heard ! “and their voice was heard and their prayer came up to His holy dwelling place to heaven” !

That reminds me of the verse, “Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. “ (Rev. 8:3)

***There was an abundance of provision … the more the people gave the more there was ! Everyone prospered and God’s blessings were upon them!

Provisions were made for everyone who whose name was ‘written’ in the geneology. It is mentioned several times !
How that made me think of us as believers .. our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life, (Rev.21:27) in the memory book of God, (Malachi 3:16) registered in heaven (Heb.12:23)!

And for every one of us God provides - all that we need for life and godliness ! “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue” (2Pe 1:3)

*** there was a pulling down of things that hindered - idols, places of false worship.
Are we not to live in such a way that everything we do is centered on glorifying God? Do we SAY that we worship God but then speak and do that which indicates otherwise ?
Rom 15:6 "that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
1Jn 5:21 "Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."

*** There was a 'heart focus' “to serve, give thanks, and to praise” the Lord!!
Is this not our duty as New Covenant believers ?

“To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear” Luk 1:74
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.“ 1Th 5:18
“And again: "PRAISE THE LORD, ALL YOU GENTILES! LAUD HIM, ALL YOU PEOPLES!" Rom 15:11
*****
God's character, His heart and His purposes never change. Our God is a God we can steadfastly trust in . We know that His word is sure.... it will never fail !!!
***

5 comments:

The Curnews said...

Did you find that duck in it's egg? It's beautiful!

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

Thanks for reminding us of God's promises...His faithfulness...and His mercy...never changing.

Lovella said...

Yes, I agree with Judy. .
Thank you for reminding us again of God's promises and his new covenant. Let us give thanks and rejoice together.

charlotte said...

AMEN to that sister.......;-)
good reminder for us all.

Sara said...

...and God also hides '"pearls in a nutshell"...

I so enjoy the Old Testament and love the way you bring it to life in your vignettes.

Julie, also, I wanted to thank you for your comment and say that I quoted part of it in my post today, about how books are open doors.

Sara