2 Kings 17:29-18:12; Acts 20:16-38; Psalms 149:1; Proverbs 31:1-7
OT: “In the third year of Israel’s King Hoshea son of Elah, Hezekiah son of Ahaz became king of Judah… He did what was right in the Lord’s sight just as his ancestor David had done. He removed the high places, shattered the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses made, for until then the Israelites were burning incense to it. It was called Nehushtan. Hezekiah relied on the Lord God of Israel; not one of the kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him. He remained faithful to the Lord and did not turn from following him but kept the commands the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him, and wherever he went he prospered.” (2 Kings 18:1, 3-7a CSB)
The nation of Israel that was united under the leadership of King David became divided into two nations after the rule of King Solomon. King Solomon’s descent into idolatry opened the door to the division of the nation. All of the kings of the Northern kingdom of Israel were evil and embraced the idol worship and ways of the nations around them. The Southern kingdom of Judah fared a little better. They had some kings that were faithful to the Lord and some that weren’t, but all of the kings of Judah made room for idol worship by allowing the high places to remain… that is until Hezekiah. Hezekiah’s father, King Ahaz, was as evil as they came – even involving himself in child sacrifice. Hezekiah had no immediate example of godly leaders to follow, so he went all the way back to his ancestor King David and followed his example. As King David was zealous for the Lord, so was Hezekiah. Not only did Hezekiah follow the Lord, he destroyed all of the centers for idol worship. He even destroyed one of the religious relics from Moses because it had devolved into an idol of worship. Hezekiah made sure that as for him and his house, and for all those who were under his care and leadership – they would serve God and God alone. He would later be ridiculed for his zealousness, but because of his singleness of heart, the Lord was with him and graced him in all that he did. By looking back to King David as a godly example, King Hezekiah became a godly example himself: an example of a single-minded pursuit of God… an example of a leader completely reliant on the grace and wisdom of the Lord… an example of a committed reformer with a zealous devotion to the worship of God and God alone. Oh how we need some Hezekiahs today: some young men and women who will reject the ways and patterns of the prevalent godless culture… who will make no room for compromise in Who they worship and serve… who will root out and destroy every vestige of idolatry in their lives… and will lead the church back to a full faithfulness to God, His word, will, and ways.
NT: “You know, from the first day I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility, with tears, and during the trials that came to me through the plots of the Jews. You know that I did not avoid proclaiming to you anything that was profitable or from teaching you publicly and from house to house. I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus. And now I am on my way to Jerusalem, compelled by the Spirit, not knowing what I will encounter there, except that in every town the Holy Spirit warns me that chains and afflictions are waiting for me. But I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:18b-24 CSB)
Paul was compelled by the Holy Spirit to return to Jerusalem by Pentecost. In order to save time on his return trip, instead of passing through Ephesus, he had the leaders of the Ephesian church meet up with him in the coastal town of Miletus. There in Miletus, Paul gave a final farewell to his Ephesian family, because he knew that he would not see them again. Paul reminded them of his past, explained his present situation, and then warned them of the future. Post conversion, Paul lived an exemplary life… an example of a man completely devoted to the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul said that from the first day he set foot in Asia, he didn’t hold back on proclaiming the gospel and explaining the ways of God’s kingdom in Christ. He didn’t have a warm-up period… he didn’t spent days, weeks, months, or years just “being the gospel” and earning their trust before speaking. From day one, he was all in – proclaiming the gospel and getting his hands dirty in all the messes of their lives; enduring hardship and persecution along the way. And now, even though he knew that chains and possible death awaited him in Jerusalem… and people were warning him of such all along the way… he was compelled to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit despite what awaited him. Why? Because his goal was to complete the Lord’s goal. The things that he desired for himself were of no value. God had a call and purpose for his life, and he was determined to run that race, by the grace of God, all the way to the finish line no matter what hardships got in the way. I thank God for Paul… and for men and women like him, who will set aside their preferences and personal desires, and embrace fully the higher calling of grace from their Lord Jesus Christ. What an example! May my life be such an example to those who come after me.