Hezekiah

From the Christian Science JournalJune 1915, by


One of the most striking examples of individual consciousness awakening to the demands of Truth, is found in the story of Hezekiah’s encounter with the Assyrian army, as told in the second book of Kings. He ascended the throne of Judah when quite a young man, and with a firm and uncompromising hand set to work to wipe out of the land everything that savored of idolatry. The “high places” were removed, the images broken, the groves cut down, and the “brazen serpent,” to which the people still burnt incense, was broken in pieces. Indeed, we are told that Hezekiah “clave to the Lord,” and also that “he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.” This kingdom of Assyria seems to have been a source of fear and often of bondage to the kings of Judah and Israel for many years. In the case of his father, Hezekiah had probably seen the baneful effects of association with and dependence on this kingdom, and this had strengthened his determination to rise above it.

Having ordained the worship of the one God and destroyed all the obvious hindrances to this worship, Hezekiah appears to have settled down very quietly for a period of fourteen years. At the end of this time Sennacherib, king of Assyria, suddenly came up and attacked him. Hezekiah, taken by surprise, was tempted into making a weak compromise; if only Sennacherib would retire he would promise him anything, β€””that which thou puttest on me will I bear.” It was a heavy toll which was exacted, and in his desire to be rid of this troublesome intruder, Hezekiah went to the length of taking gold and silver from the temple. What a fall for one whose ideal had been so high! Had he, in those years of quiet, forgotten the splendid promise of his earlier outlook? Had he been drifting into a state of slothful ease?

Whatever the cause of his mistake, the compromise helped Hezekiah not at all. The next thing he sees is that all the leaders of the Assyrian army are surrounding him and his people, and with mocking words are trying to prove that to trust in God is vain, and that Hezekiah is deceiving them. Has he not even given over to the Assyrians the gold and silver of the temple wherein this same God is worshiped? It is useless to trust in what Hezekiah says, but let the people make a covenant with Sennacherib and all will be well with them. Has the god of any other nation ever been able to deliver? No, and there is no god who can ever deliver from the power of Assyria.

In fear and heaviness of heart Hezekiah sends to the prophet Isaiah for help, and receives from him the comforting assurance that Sennacherib will depart and will eventually be destroyed. With what a sense of relief and gratitude must Hezekiah have received this message! He probably thought that his struggle with the enemy was now over. But there was more to be done, and because Hezekiah was capable of rising to greater heights, he was called upon to do so.

In the midst of his false sense of security, he receives a letter telling him that the enemy is returning. Alas for his compromise with error! Alas for his dependence on another’s work! Only by working out his own salvation, only by his own realization of the omnipotence of God, will he finally be freed from bondage. So, wearied with his struggles, disappointed with the results of his dependence on matter (silver and gold) and on human personality, he goes into the temple alone. In the “superstructure of Truth,” as we read in Science and Health (p. 595), that Truth which admits nothing that “worketh abomination, or maketh a lie,” in the splendor of that divine presence, that Life which knows no element of destruction, in the strength and majesty of that Love which destroys all belief in an opposing power,β€”it is here he finds the answer to all his problems, here he is raised to the pinnacle of praise. So complete is his demonstration that Isaiah knows what has been done and sends word to assure Hezekiah of the result of his work.

And the enemy, what of them? We read that when Hezekiah and his people “arose early in the morning,” the Assyrians “were all dead corpses.” How often does this “waking” process come into the experience of mortals! Having overcome the more obvious forms of sin, we sit comfortably down and drift into a condition of thought which makes it possible for us to be taken unawares. After perhaps as foolish a compromise as that of Hezekiah, finding ourselves hedged about with difficulties, we look wildly around for help; and it is always to be had if we are willing to do our part. “The waymarks of God” (Science and Health, p. 542) cannot be removed. Often we are compelled, like Hezekiah, to make a supreme effort in order to shake off the fear and bondage which are oppressing us, to silence all the suggestions which seem so busy and are so subtle. Sometimes we are tempted to grumble and feebly ask: “Why am I called upon to do this? What have I done that I should have so much to meet?”

Why are we called upon to do this? Because we can do it, because we are worth it. Our Leader says, “Heaven’s favors are formidable: they are calls to higher duties, not discharge from care” (Christian Healing, p. 1). Did the man with the five talents grumble when he was told that because of work well done he would be made “ruler over many things”? He rejoiced in larger duties; and so must we, if we really wish to advance. And when we do make our supreme effort, when we shake ourselves and really wake up, we find that all our enemies are but dead things, lifeless, because they are not of God. All the suggestions that surrounded us are dead; they were always dead; they never lived. Our fear and indolence gave them a spurious activity which is destroyed by the “angel of the Lord;” and not only is the lie destroyed for the chief sufferer, but for every one who has consented to it. They, too, “arise” to the consciousness that evil is destroyed by obedience to God’s law.

As Christian Scientists we have taken our stand for Truth. Let us ever be on the watch, and ever willing to surrender our human sense of will for the divine, and so echo the thought so beautifully expressed by Whittier:

Change the dream of me and mine
For the truth of Thee and Thine,
And, through chaos, doubt, and strife,
Interfuse Thy calm of life.

Clothe with life the weak intent,
Let me be the thing I meant;
Let me find in Thy employ
Peace that dearer is than joy;
Out of self to love be led
And to heaven acclimated,
Until all things sweet and good
Seem my natural habitude.




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