Have you heard of Hezekiah? He was the King of Judah around 700 BC. I didn’t know much about him but I learned about his life this week in my bible reading. You can read about him in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah.
For most of his life Hezekiah was a good king, faithful and obedient to God. As a result, God blessed him with success in all he did. At that time, the Assyrian armies were conquering cities all around them. But before the Assyrian king and his army of 185,000 could besiege Hezekiah’s capital city of Jerusalem, God intervened and destroyed them all and the city was spared.
Fast forward a few years. Hezekiah became very ill and God told him through the prophet Isaiah that he would die. But after praying and begging God to remember how obedient he had been, God allowed him to live 15 more years. Because of this healing, and a miraculous sign that God gave to Hezekiah, and how wealthy and highly honored he became, the Bible says he became proud. God corrected him and 2 Chronicles says Hezekiah humbled himself and repented of his pride.
Once again Hezekiah succeeded in all he did. God continued to increase his wealth. He stored up all of the treasures he received from other nations, as well as grain, cattle, and immense riches. The Babylonian King heard about all that happened to Hezekiah and sent a group to investigate.
Ok, here’s the part that got my attention:
However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart. 2 Chronicles 32:31
What does that mean?
It means God took a step back from leading Hezekiah to see how he would behave when people asked about his great wealth and success. Would he, in humility, give glory to God for all he had received?
Well…nope. He piously showed off all of his vast treasures to his visitors. He took them on the grand tour of all he had accumulated. So proud.
When God tested Hezekiah by withdrawing from him to see what was in his heart, it revealed a prideful spirit in the way he responded. He didn’t pass God’s test.
Has your heart ever revealed a prideful spirit in you? I know mine has. God has blessed me over and over in my life and if I take any credit for what God has done for me and in me, then I am displaying the same pride that Hezekiah exhibited in 2 Chronicles.
There are other instances of God testing His people to examine what is in their hearts and to keep them from becoming proud.
In Deuteronomy 8, Moses reminded the Israelites:
Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy. Deuteronomy 8:2,16-17
Moses also told them,
“The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul.” Deuteronomy 13:3
Does God need to test us in order to know what’s in our hearts? I don’t think so, but if we respond to testing with humility and continued trust in Him, our faith is increased.
In the New Testament, 1 Peter 1:7 tells us that “God’s testing sometimes comes as a way of proving that our faith is genuine, like the way fire tests and purifies gold.”
I don’t think any of us would choose to be tested by God the way fire tests gold. So let’s let our lives be lived in humility as examples of genuine faith. Let’s be sure to give all credit and glory to God for all He has done for us and in us and through us.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. Psalm 73:23