We are living in a generation where the great prefix “self” rules!! Self-esteem, self-image, self-worth, self-sufficiency, self-help, self-knowledge, self-love, and so the list could go on...The Apostle Paul, writing some 2000 years ago under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit put it this way: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves…” (2 Tim. 3:1-2). To borrow from the great commentator Albert Barnes – “It shall be one of the characteristics of these times that men shall be eminently selfish”. The dilemma of our day is not that men have too low an opinion of themselves but rather that they have too high an opinion of themselves and se no need for God!!
This sermon is a vivid reminder of the need for the Church to abandon all self-reliance and self-dependency and instead to sense their great poverty of spirit and desperate need for the Saviour in the critical hour in which we live!! “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for there is the kingdom of heaven”.
2 Kings 18:1-6
Of King Hezekiah, it was said, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did”. Hezekiah was a very special king in that he loved the Lord his God and cleaved to Him with all is heart!! When ascending the throne of the Monarch, Hezekiah set his heart to rededicate the nation back to God. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves. However, in the passage of Scripture before us in this sermon, reference is also made of him breaking in pieces the brazen serpent which Moses had made! For 800 years, no reference is made in the records of Scripture of this brazen serpent until now! What once had been a blessing to Israel and a means of their healing, had now turned to be a snare!
This sermon is a warning and a challenge to Christians not to lose sight of God in the midst of His blessings. How many Christians, Churches, denominations and ministries have known the blessing of God and over time have allowed that same blessing to become an idol of worship. Hezekiah saw in his day, the brazen serpent it for what it was – Nehushtan – a piece of brass!!
“All the way my Savior leads me; what have I to ask beside? Can I doubt His tender mercy, who through life has been my Guide? Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in Him to dwell! For I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well.” There are some hymns that when sung, cause a welling up within, an inner witness that is so strong on account of the truthfulness of the words being sung, meeting with one’s own personal experience!
Evermore does our blessed Saviour invite the sheep of His fold to follow Him! More and more He desires to take His sheep out of their comfort zone and in leading them into the wilderness, to show them, that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Oh that we might bury our unbelief and come to realisation that where the good shepherd leads, the good shepherd will provide!!
When given opportunity by God to request anything his heart so desired, Solomon did not ask for long life, neither did he ask for riches, nor asked he for the life of his enemies. Rather, he spoke saying. “Give..thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad...” (1 Kg. 3:9). Oh! That we as Christians might more fervently seek the Lord for wisdom, to know which way the Lord would have us to walk in these troubling times. So many Christians walk in their own council and have not even considered, let alone entertained the idea of consulting the Lord and asking for wisdom.
In our hour of decision at life’s crossroads, we don’t have to walk in isolation. The Word of God would exhort us to seek godly council from wise and godly brothers and sisters. This sermon is a warning on two fronts; beware from whence you get your counsel and take heed that you turn not away from the counsel of the Lord!!