Sep 28, 2017

Handling Success - Trial of Faith Series


2 Ki 18:7a  And the LORD was with him [Hezekiah]; he was successful in whatever he undertook.

In the last message we looked at Peter's life to learn God's plan for us in the face of our failures. Today, let's look at the next trial of our faith. Success.

In some candid discussions with many true men of God, I have come to the conclusion that Success is a more difficult trial of faith than failure. The danger of going through failure is that you may fall prey to unbelief and become bitter towards God. It may happen to a few people, but the common response for failure is that it drives us back towards God. What is the usual result of success ? The normal believer tends to become proud, his heart is lifted up and he forgets the God who gave him the success in the first place. It takes a very tender heart to maintain that humility before God and give Him the glory for any success which He has granted us. Let's look at the example from the life of King Hezekiah.

The Lord was with him
The name Hezekiah means "Yahweh is my Strength". True to his name, the Lord did mighty things through this wonderful king. If you read from 2 Kings 18:3-8, we note the following things about his blessed reign.
1.      2 Ki 18:3 - He did right in the eyes of the Lord (as David)
2.      2 Ki 18:4 - he eradicated idolatry in all known forms, even destroying the bronze serpent which had existed as an idol for nearly 1000 years!
3.      2Ki 18:5 - He trusted the Lord and the word of God declares him to be a king unlike any other before or after him.
4.      2 Ki 18:6 - He held fast to the Lord and didn't cease to follow Him. He kept the commandments of the Lord
5.      2 Ki 18:7 - The Lord was with Him and therefore, he was successful in all his endeavors.
6.      2 Ki 18:8 - He didn't bow down before the Syrian kings and defeated philistines across their borders.

A man whom the Lord honors and protects!
Truly, he was one of the best kings to grace the throne of Israel. There is a touching account of the King of Syria threatening to annihilate Israel. 2 Chr 32:1 (read from v1 to v19) Hezekiah prayed to the Lord (2 Chr 32:20) and the Lord sent an angel which consumed 185,000 soldiers of Syria (2Chr 32:21). I especially loved the Word of God which says 2 Chr 32:22 So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them on every side.
If we have any doubt concerning this, the Lord says: it is He who delivered the nation. Not the might of armies or the wisdom of a king. But the end result of this deliverance was that the fame of Hezekiah spread far and wide and many came to him with precious gifts and he was highly regarded by all nations. (2 Chr 32:23)

The beginning of the end - Pride
Alas, the result of such fame was a falling away. 2 Chr 32:25 says: But Hezekiah's heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the LORD's wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem.
The result of that wrath was an illness which came to the King and he was near death. he prayed to the Lord and the lord answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. (Read 2 Ki 20:1-11) And he repented of the pride in his heart (2 Chr 32:26) and the Lord's wrath didn't appear to them in that generation. But the result of this prayer was an increase of his life by 15 years. That led him to commit even more mistakes in his later years and he also fathered Manasseh. (If you read 2 Chr 33:1-11, you can see the amount of evil that this young king heaped on himself and israel) While Hezekiah accomplished much in the secular realm in the added years(2 Chr 32:27-30), we see the steady decline of his spiritual life as the end comes.

The end - God leaves him to test his heart
2 Chr 32:31 But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart.
When God leaves us to test us, he expects us to rely on what He has taught us in the past. He expects us to use the wisdom and unction that He deposited in us prior to the test. It is for us to understand the contents of our heart more clearly. 2 Ki 20:13 says - he exposed every little bit of his kingdom to the envoys of the enemy as a result of his pride and that mistake was instrumental in the nation being carried away to Babylon at a later point in time.

What is our lesson from this ?
Do I write all this to diss a godly king ? Am I magnifying his mistakes ? Am I trying to erase the good he has done by focusing on his mistakes ? Not at all! I believe all scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for our instruction, correction and reproof. It is good for us to take valuable lessons from all these scriptures because we are near the end times. (1 Cor 10:11). Where Hezekiah pleased God, let us desire to imitate his life. Where he fell short of the glory of God, let us take it as a precious example to guard against. Remember, if a spiritual giant like he could fall, so could we! Am I against success ? Not at all! I desire success and I believe it is the plan of God for all his disciples to enjoy success. That's why the precious promises are given to the victors (7 letters of revelation + Rev 21:7). But in our successes that we enjoy, do not forget to attribute glory and honor and praise and thanksgiving to the One who made it possible for us. As Jesus said - Without me, you can do nothing! My prayer is that however well we have begun our spiritual race, God give us the grace to fight the good fight, finish our race and keep the faith and to appropriate the eternal rewards kept for us(2 Tim 4:7)

Further reading : Chr 28:9 & Deut 8:2