The Folly of Hezekiah
"At that time Berodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. And Hezekiah was attentive to them, and showed them all the house of his treasures - the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory - all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them. Then Isaiah the prophet went to King Hezekiah, and said to him, 'What did these men say, and from where did they come to you?' So Hezekiah said, "They came from a far country, from Babylon." And he said, "What have they seen in your house?" So Hezekiah answered, "They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them." Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the Lord: 'Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and what your fathers have accumulated until this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, ' says the Lord. 'And they shall take away some of your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.' " (2 Kings 20: 21-19).
The incident recorded above bears an eerie similarity to the following article taken from "The Washington Times" dated August 24, 2000. It should serve as just another warning of the increasingly imminent disaster which God has proclaimed against this land if it continues to head in its current direction.
One must understand that when I speak of the divine judgments that will befall this nation unless there is a turning from iniquity and a restoration of some semblance of national righteousness, I am not necessarily speaking of nuclear bombs raining down on our cities. The judgments of God fall into two types, natural and spiritual.
Natural judgments include such things as drought, floods, severe storms, plagues or incurable diseases, civil unrest, and war. An example of this is set forth by the prophet Ezekiel.
"For thus says the Lord God, "How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem: sword, famine, wild beasts, and plague to cut of man and beast from it!"
A more detailed picture is given by the prophet Amos.
"But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities and lack of bread in all your places, yet you have not returned to me,’ declares the Lord. ‘And furthermore, I withheld the rain from you while there were still three months until harvest. Then I would send rain on one city and on another city I would not send rain; one part would be rained on, while the part not rained on would dry up. So two or three cities would stagger to another city to drink water, but would not be satisfied; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the Lord. ‘I smote you with scorching wind and mildew; and the caterpillar was devouring your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the Lord. ‘I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt; I slew your young men by the sword along with your captured horses, and I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils; yet you have not returned to Me,’ declares the Lord." (Amos 4: 6-10 NASV).
Notice how the famine resulted from the drought and diseases which affected the food crops. In addition infectious disease swept through the land slaying great numbers of the inhabitants. On top of that, foreign armies wrecked havoc in the land as well and killed many of the citizens.
These kinds of divine judgments are readily discerned by those who have a discerning eye and can read the signs of the times. The other type of judgments are much more subtle, but a far more horrific in their consequences. By these I am referring to spiritual judgments.
Spiritual judgments, in contrast to natural judgments which affect men’s bodies, are those which affect men’s souls. One can become a victim to this type of judgment and be completely unaware of it. As a matter of fact, that is the exact effect they are intended to produce. Natural judgments are one of the means that God uses to bring men to repentance. In touching their bodies He makes them aware of their folly and induces them to seek relief by casting themselves upon Him in heartfelt recognition of their ingratitude and evil conduct. One might say, that as long as God is dealing with men in this matter, there is still hope for them. The exact opposite is true when it comes to spiritual judgments. Once these are poured out upon the individual, there remains no more hope for them. A perfect example of one such judgment is recorded in the letter to the Romans, chapter one.
In reading through the first part of this chapter we can see that Paul declares that by the creation that surrounds them, men can readily understand that there is a great Creator who made it all by His divine power. Someone who is far superior in both excellency and power and in wisdom has brought into being these things that are seen. Therefore, they are without excuse who are ungrateful to Him to whom they owe their very existence and the life-breath that is in their nostrils. Additionally, anyone who would reduce Him to their level and make images after the likeness of the creature to represent Him are demonstrating their complete stupidity and utter folly. This is exactly what took place in the world of Paul’s day and has in effect happened in every age of history. In response to this, God rightly pours out upon them one of these spiritual judgments.
"Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into t a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up to vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and like wise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind…" (Romans 1: 24-28).
When God is said to give someone over to a reprobate mind, He is now through with any convicting or restraining work upon them whatsoever. In effect, He gives them free rein to completely plunge themselves into their lusts without any pangs of guilt or remorse of conscience whatsoever to check them. Their conscience no longer functions at all in regards to the lust to which they have been handed over for their heart is now irrevocably hardened. The result of all this is that they are completely oblivious to the evil of the deed which they are committing and hence it becomes impossible for them to ever repent since they no longer are capable of experiencing any guilt or conviction whatsoever, these things being absolutely indispensable if repentance is to be produced. As if this condition isn’t bad enough, God will oftentimes pour upon these same individuals thus hardened an abundance of material blessings and actually prosper them materially. This only serves to further harden them in their sin as they are given over to a perfect sense of security and ease and assume that all is well between them and the Deity since they are obviously being "blessed".
What a horrible condition this is! Nothing lies between them and the eternal wrath of an almighty God but a mere breath and yet they are blissfully ignorant of the reality of their hopeless condition. They will step into eternity completely wedded to their own iniquity. Such are the devastating effects of one of Jehovah’s spiritual plagues.
Closely related to this particular judgment is another that varies only slightly in form but has the same devastating results. This occurs when God simply removes His truth from an individual or a group of individuals such as a nation and gives them over to believe a lie. Listen to the testimony of Scripture in this regard.
"Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all the deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but took pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thes 2: 9-12).
Notice carefully what God is said to do to these despisers of His truth – He gives them over to believe a lie. In other words, they are stripped of all ability to discern truth from error, the lies of Satan from the truth of God. The result is that they are at the mercy of every false and misleading teacher that spreads out his wares before them. They are like a senseless horse that swallows everything set before him and is unable to spit out the sticks - only the sticks that they swallow are those things which will damn their own souls.
The mechanics of this are actually quite simple. God simply hides his truth from them. By that I mean to say that He withdraws it from them. He removes His true and faithful servants from their midst and causes them to cease from feeding upon the green pastures of His Word. He then allows seducers into their land or their midst and gives their lies and half-truths an incredible efficacy by casting off the shackles that He has upon the devil and giving him free rein to work his diabolical deception upon their blinded minds.
An example of this is found in the book of Kings. In the twenty-second chapter of the first book of Kings an incident is recorded which is most instructive. A wicked king of Israel, Ahab by name, is seeking to ascertain the will of God as to whether or not he should go up and wage war against a certain area named Ramoth-gilead. In a remarkable scene, he summons up 400 prophets who quickly confirm his intent to go up and capture the city. The leader of this motley group of deceivers is one by the name of Zedekiah. He assures King Ahab that he will be completely victorious and triumph over the city and even makes this startling prediction by the word of the Lord, or so he thinks:
"Thus says the Lord, ‘With these you shall gore the Arameans until they are consumed."" (1 Kings 22: 11)
Providentially, the godly king from Judah also happens to be with Ahab while all this is going on and, the godly man that he is, he is suspicious about the predictions of these so-called prophets and has some serious doubts about their validity. He wisely counsels Ahab to seek out the prophet Micaiah who is a known prophet of the Lord. Ahab is extremely reluctant to do so, since his prior experiences with Micaiah have left him a bit jaded to say the least. He tells Jehoshaphat:
"…there is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil." (1 Kings 22: 8).
In other words, this godly prophet has in the past fearlessly and faithfully declared the whole counsel of God to Ahab. Each time that he did, his message crossed the ungodly lusts of this wicked king and thus Ahab began to resent him at first and then ultimately came to despise him. Soon after that, this wicked king had the goodly prophet thrown into prison and fed with nothing but bread and water. He thus demonstrated nothing but utter contempt for his message of truth. Time and time again he had heard from this man, and time after time he had contemptuously dismissed him. This is important to keep in mind.
Jehoshaphat ultimately prevails upon Ahab to summon Micaiah from his jail cell and to bring him before the two of them so that they might hear the word of the Lord from him. Initially Micaiah mocks the wicked king by telling him the exact thing the other 400 false prophets have already been telling him but eventually is prevailed upon to deliver his message from God. Note carefully what he says.
"So he said, I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains like sheep which have no shepherd. And the Lord said, These have no master, let each of them return to his house in peace.’" (1 Kings 22: 17).
This is precisely what the wicked king did not want to hear. He desired a "prophet" who would "rubber-stamp" his lustful craving and actually give him sanction from God to do so. Micaiah would have none of this sycophantic capitulation. He then courageously went on with the remainder of his direful message.
"And Micaiah said, ‘Therefore, hear the word of the Lord, I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right and on His left. And the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab to go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said this while another said that. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘How?’ And he said, ‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ Then He said, ‘You are to entice him and also prevail. Go and do so.’ Now therefore, behold, the Lord has put a deceiving spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; and the Lord has proclaimed disaster against you." (1 Kings 22: 19-23).
This is a most illuminating portion of Scripture! What is clearly revealed here is that God most certainly avenges contempt for His truth by delivering those who are guilty thereof into the power of deception. The agency He employs in so doing are wicked spirits, pawns of the devil who prevail upon men’s minds with their lies and falsehoods. The effect is that men are fatally duped into thinking that the false counsel they are following or the lies they believe are actually divinely inspired truth. In other words, they are convinced that darkness is light and such is the effect that let him who would say otherwise to them, take heed, lest they turn and tear him in pieces. Suffice it to say there is absolutely no hope whatsoever for those in such a condition.
One must remember that Ahab’s contempt for the truth started gradually and eventually grew until it culminated in his utter hatred of the prophet Micaiah. While it is at the risk of one’s own soul that he or she ignores the word of God at any time, be it clearly understood that continued rejection of its authority and contempt for its messengers by any person or group of persons will inevitably bring down the same course of response by an offended Deity. God’s truth is precious to Him and He will not long suffer it to be thus abused by man whose breath of life is in his nostrils.
Consider carefully the saying of the Lord Christ in regard to the self-righteous Pharisees of His day.
"Then the disciples came and said to Him, ‘Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?’ But He answered and said, ‘Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.’" (Matt 15: 12-14).
To this writer there are no more dreaded words imaginable that could have fallen from the lips of Him who called the universe into being "Let them alone"! The Pharisees’ continued rejection of the living Word of God and the utter contempt and disdain they showed toward Jesus brought about the exact response demonstrated above. They were completely given over to error and superstition and henceforth were to die in their sins. They went to their eternal damnation absolutely convinced that they were in the right and that Jesus of Nazareth was an imposter. Such is the power of the spiritual judgments of God.
It is this writer’s opinion that we are already witnessing these spiritual judgments being poured out over a significant portion of the population of this country. America is a land that has had so much gospel light in it for so long and yet as we begin a new millenium has become progressively more godless with the passing of each day. We seem to be "inventors of evil" and have turned our remarkable ingenuity into devising new ways to spurn the Most High and His precepts and delve further into perversion. One shudders to think where we will be in ten years if something does not change soon. Much of the contemporary church has pulpits filled with deceivers and ministers of the devil disguised as ministers of righteousness - craven men who are more interested in popularity and the accolades of their fellow creatures than the approval of the heavenly Master they claim to serve. Truth seems to lie fallen in the streets and most seem contempt to simply step over it and leave it there. Careless professing Christians wile away their time filling their minds with such voyeuristic trash as "Surviver" instead of feasting on the goodness of the Lord in His Word of truth. Yet all around are the visible signs of God’s increasing displeasure with a society that is rivaling that of ancient Sodom for wantonness and lewdness.
Referring back to our original Scripture verse where we see king Hezekiah revealing his every secret to the ambassadors from their soon to be most feared enemy, Babylon, we can see similar evidence of the anger of God toward our own land. Hezekiah’s day of peace and prosperity was within a short time to give way to a time of devastating destruction inflicted on the land of Israel by the rising world power of the day. One must not forget however, that Hezekiah had at one time personally witnessed the supernatural deliverance of the land of Judah from the army of the Assyrians. There, surrounded by the enemy’s army over 180,000 strong, Hezekiah had cried out to Jehovah to deliver them from this fierce oppressor. God had indeed been gracious and sent His angel who struck down and decimated the proud Assyrians in one night and dealt them a blow from which the empire never recovered. Jerusalem was thus spared and the land was safe again for commerce and other activities to commence once again. This had led to a great time of abundance and peace.
Could it have been, that Hezekiah had drawn a false sense of security, indeed a sense of invulnerability perhaps from the miraculous deliverance that he had been a beneficiary of at one time? Had he gotten careless and complacent and thrown caution to the wind? Was he so proud of his achievements and so secure in his kingdom that he failed to exercise the proper prudence a ruler should have had toward a potential threat to his people and his land? It is this writer’s opinion that this is exactly the case with Hezekiah. Little did he know that he was providing the enemy with the very secrets that would ultimately be used against his people and would lead to the ruin of Israel. Less than 90 years later, the armies of Babylon would descend upon the land of Hezekiah like a swarm of wild bees covering everything in its sight. Their military leaders knew every defensive fortification and provision surrounding the city of Jerusalem because years earlier Hezekiah had rashly and foolishly shown it to them. Armed with this information and with the most modern weapons of war of the day, they completely destroyed the city and burned the temple to the ground. Those who were not killed in the invasion were carried away captive into the land of Babylon where they spent the next 70 years. The judgment of God had finally descended on the people who had provoked him to the point where there was no longer any remedy.
"Furthermore, all the officials of the priests and the people were very unfaithful following all the abominations of the nations; and they defiled the house of the Lord which He had sanctified in Jerusalem. And the Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place; but they continually mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people and there was no remedy." (2 Chron 36: 14-16).
It is with this solemn warning in mind, that I would urge the reader to consider the following article from the Times. Is America about to repeat the same deadly error as King Hezekiah of old? Time and the providence of God will tell.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
August 24, 2000
Chinese to tour sensitive facilities
The Pentagon is hosting a group of Chinese strategic military planners whose
trip to sensitive U.S. military facilities is raising questions in Congress
about violations of law.
The delegation from China's Academy of Military Sciences arrived Friday and is headed by Gen. Wang Zuxun, the new head of the academy that is developing military doctrine on how China can use advanced technology to defeat more powerful foes like the United States, said Pentagon officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The group traveled earlier this week to several U.S. military schools, but its visit today to the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk is causing concern among some members of Congress and officials in the Pentagon.
The command is where the U.S. military is developing its most advanced war-fighting techniques and doctrine — information known to be a target of Chinese military spying.
Sen. Robert C. Smith, New Hampshire Republican, said allowing Chinese military officials to visit the command appears to violate recent congressional legislation he co-sponsored that prohibits the Pentagon from helping China develop war-fighting capabilities.
The law was sponsored jointly by Mr. Smith and Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas Republican, and created what the Pentagon calls the Smith-DeLay guidelines for Chinese military exchanges.
"I am shocked that DoD appears to be thwarting the law with regard to the Smith/DeLay U.S.-P.R.C. military-to-military restrictions," Mr. Smith told The Washington Times in a statement.
Mr. Smith said the visit to the Joint Forces Command could help China's military learn sensitive data on U.S. advanced war-fighting experiments.
"The congressional restrictions specifically prohibit inappropriate exposure to joint war-fighting experimentation," Mr. Smith said. "Why should the Pentagon be seen to be facilitating Beijing in the pursuit of that goal when, on an almost daily basis, the [People's Republic of China] is threatening to attack democratic Taiwan and the United States itself if we intervened to defend Taiwan?"
Mr. DeLay also said he was troubled by the visit.
"It's incredible that the Clinton-Gore administration is acting as tour guides for People's Liberation Army officials visiting sensitive American military facilities when only last week it stopped members of Congress from meeting with the democratically elected leader of Taiwan when he was visiting Los Angeles," Mr. DeLay told The Times.
Three Chinese generals are among the group, including Gen. Wang, a former ground forces commander. The academy is China's leading military think tank for the so-called revolution in military affairs — modern, high-technology warfare. It also specializes in developing doctrine on "information warfare" — attacks on computers and electronic-based infrastructures.
The Chinese military delegation is part of the Pentagon's military exchange program with China, which has come under fire from critics, who say it will boost China's military.
The visit will continue through Sept. 1. The itinerary includes meetings at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Army War College in Pennsylvania, the Army's Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., and the U.S. Pacific Command in Honolulu. The group will visit the Pentagon later this week.
Asked if the visit will conform to the Smith-DeLay guidelines, a defense official said the Pentagon believes it does.
However, the official said Congress was not informed about the places where the Academy of Military Sciences officials will visit. The official said Congress was notified earlier of the general outline of the entire military-to-military exchange program that included "a forecast" of the visit.
The Chinese visit to Norfolk comes during a current war-fighting experiment called Joint Deployment Process Improvement, which simulates a major military deployment.
A Pentagon description of the experiment says it is designed "to improve joint war-fighting capabilities."
The restrictions on Chinese military exchanges specifically prohibit any exchanges that will improve China's joint war-fighting capabilities, an area the Chinese military is known to be working on.
The command also is the location of the Joint Training Analysis and Simulation Center and the Joint Experimentation Battle Lab.
Cmdr. Linc Smith, a command spokesman, had no immediate comment when asked if the Chinese will be permitted to visit those facilities.
The defense official said the purpose of hosting the visit is to expose the Chinese to the U.S. "military education system."
However, other Pentagon officials said China's Academy of Military Sciences (AMS) is not involved in military education. It is a military strategic doctrine and planning center for advanced war-fighting concepts, including plans for how to forcibly reunite Taiwan with the mainland.
A Pentagon-sponsored study on China's military states that the academy produces classified reports for the Chinese military's strategic planning process.
"Of all the research institutes, AMS is the most secretive and least visited by foreigners," the book, "China Debates the Future Security Environment" by Michael Pillsbury, states.
"It performs analysis for the Central Military Commission and the General Staff Department," it said. Among the known topics of its research are border security, guidance for "strategies and battles under high-technology conditions," and the regularization of the Chinese armed forces.
The academy has no students and no classes, raising suspicions among some officials that the current delegation is on an intelligence- and technology-collection mission.
The academy was modeled on the former Soviet General Staff Academy. It has cooperated with the Commission on Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, China's main foreign weapons technology collector.
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