Thou Art the Man: Will You Deliver Yourself From Your Place In the Story?

Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of Second Kings, which describes the days of the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, as well as the kings which sat upon the thrones therein. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters sixteen through eighteen of this Old Testament book. TAKING THE TREASURES OF THE HOUSE TO APPEASE THE ENEMY! WHEN FEAR DRIVES YOU TO COMPROMISE THE HOUSE OF THE LORD! TAKING WHAT BELONGS TO THE LORD TO APPEASE THE ENEMY! FASHIONING A FALSE ALTAR IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD! REMOVING THE TRUE ALTAR IN FAVOR OF AN IMITATION ALTAR! REPLACING THE TRUE ALTAR WITH AN ELABORATE IMITATION! As you continue to read and study the words which are written and recorded within these Old Testament books of First and Second Kings you will notice the various kings which sat upon the thrones of these two kingdoms and the decisions they would make to either do what was right in the sight of the LORD, or do what was evil in the sight of the LORD. When you read the narrative of the northern kingdom of Israel you will find that there was never a single righteous king who sat upon the throne, and from the time of Jeroboam son of Nebat the kings which reigned over the land continually did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. The more I think about, and the more I consider the narrative of the kings of the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel, the more I come face to face with the absolutely astonishing reality that each subsequent king which reigned upon the thrones therein were faced with the tremendous decision whether or not they would continue to walk in the ways of their fathers, or whether they would choose to make a clean break from those ways. Moreover, each subsequent king which reigned upon each of these thrones would have to choose and decide whether or not they would walk in the same national sins which were committed in the days and generation before them, or whether or not they would abstain and refrain from them. What’s more, is that there wasn’t merely a decision that needed to be made whether or not each king would break away from the sins of previous generations, but a decision would need to be made whether or not those sins would be permitted to remain in the midst of the land. You cannot read the narratives which are written and found within these chapters and not come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that there was a profound sense of decision that needed to be made, as each king that would sit upon the throne would need to decide what type of man and what type of king they would be. In all reality, it wasn’t merely about choosing what type of king you would be, but the true and underlying reality is what type of man you would be in the sight of the living God.

WHAT TYPE OF MAN WILL YOU BE? We tend to think about, and we tend to focus on what type of king, what type of leader, what type of manager, what type of pastor, what type of boss, what type of husband, what type of father we will be, and yet the truth of the matter is not necessarily what type of person we are going to be on the exterior, but what type of man we are going to be on the interior. I can’t help but be reminded of the encounter between the prophet Nathan and David after David had not only committed adultery with Bathsheba, but also after David had attempted to cover up that adultery by bringing Uriah home. When David realized that he would not be able to cover his sin he resorted to murder, as he would have Uriah the Hittite slaughtered and slain in the midst of the battle. Upon learning and discovering of the death of Uriah, David would then proceed to take Bathsheba the wife of Uriah the Hittite unto himself as his own wife. Please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this, for while we know and understand that David was king over the nation of Israel, while we recognize and understand that David was a poet and psalmist, while we understand that David was a fierce warrior, while we understand that David was a husband and father, we must also understand that when he was chosen by the living God to serve and rule as king over the nation of Israel, he was chosen because he was a man after God’s own heart. In all reality, David is the only person in all of Scripture who is ever called a man after God’s own heart. You will not find a single individual named and mentioned in all of Scripture who is called, referred to and known as a man after God’s own heart, and it was the heart that was present within the heart of David that caused the living God to choose him as the next king of Israel. With that being said, however, when you read the words which are written concerning David after committing adultery with Bathsheba, and after murdering Uriah the Hittite to cover up his sin, the prophet Nathan came unto David with a parable and story that was meant to prick, strike at the very core, and directly impact his heart. Upon David hearing the parable and story the prophet Nathan revealed unto him, David immediately responded and reacted with anger and rage—only to find and discover that he was the man in the parable, and he was the man in the story. In fact, the prophet Nathan would emphatically declare unto David—not knowing how David would react or respond—that he was the man in the parable, and he was the man in the story.

It is absolutely necessary that we recognize the thunderous and emphatic declaration the prophet Nathan proclaimed in the hearing of David, for Nathan declared in the hearting of David that he was the man. As I sit here today I can’t help but think that the thunderous declaration which the prophet Nathan declared unto David was not so much an indictment of the man David became in that moment and in that hour, but it was also an indictment and thunderous declaration concerning the man David was never created, nor intended on being. Even though the prophet Nathan emphatically declared and proclaimed unto David that he was the man in the parable, he was also making a declaration that isn’t necessarily seen in the passage, but is more so implied. The words which the prophet Nathan declared unto David were also intended on declaring unto David that the man he had become was not the man he was created on being. It was essentially as though the prophet Nathan was declaring unto David that who and what he had become was off track and out of line with the man after God’s own heart. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous difference between being “a man after God’s own heart” to hearing from the prophet Nathan that he was the man whom he raged against. Stop and consider the fact that the very man David raged against in the parable and story which the prophet Nathan declared unto him was the very man that he had become. Isn’t it quite astonishing to think and consider that more often than not we rage against, we fight against, we resist, and we grow angry with what we think we see in others, and yet what we are ultimately raging against is seeing and beholding ourselves in others. When David initially railed and raged against the man in the parable and the story he had absolutely no idea that he was the man in the parable until the prophet Nathan declared unto David that he was the man. Moreover, it must be noted that the prophet Nathan didn’t declare unto David that he was the man until after David had responded and reacted toward and against the man. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this, for the parable and narrative the prophet Nathan spoke unto David was meant to bring him to the place where he would be angry and enraged at the sin which he heard about in this parable. Please don’t miss this, for it must be carefully understood that more often than not true and lasting change cannot and will not take place within our lives until we reach the point where we grow angry and enraged with the sin which we are brought face to face with. It’s worth noting concerning David that he grew angry and enraged at the sin that was displayed within this rich man, and it was within and from that place of anger and raged against that sin and that heart which was found in the man in the parable that he was then in a place where the prophet Nathan could declare unto him that the sin and heart which he railed against and raged about was found within himself.

I sit here today completely and utterly captivated and overwhelmed by the reality that more often than not true and lasting change cannot be enacted and effected within our hearts and lives until we are first brought into a place of anger and rage against the sin within our own hearts and lives. More often than not we cannot truly enter into that place of humility, that place of brokenness, that place of repentance, and that place of surrender before and in the sight of the living God until we are first brought to the place where we are absolutely enraged and outraged with the sin that is found within our own hearts and lives. When David initially responded and reacted to the parable and story the prophet Nathan spoke and declared unto him he had absolutely no idea that the sin, the selfishness, and the heart he would rage against was present within his own heart and life. I have to admit that I absolutely love how Nathan entered into the presence of the king, and how Nathan spoke unto him concerning the sin that would be present within his heart and life, for it was almost as if the prophet Nathan wanted to test and see David’s heart and response before he would continue on with the process of revealing unto David who and what he had become. I can’t help but wonder if the prophet Nathan did not breath a sigh of relief within himself when he heard the words which David spoke, and saw and heard how he reacted to the parable, for the prophet Nathan realized at that moment that he could then continue with proclaiming and declaring unto David the word of the LORD. What I absolutely love concerning the narrative of David and the prophet Nathan is how the prophet first brought David into the place where he would be angered and enraged at the sin which would eventually and ultimately be revealed within his life, and would then bring David into the place where he would be broken, humbled and contrite at that sin. FIRST THE ANGER, THEN THE HUMILITY! FIRST THE RAGE, THEN THE BROKENNESS! Upon reading the words which are written and found within this passage of Scripture in the book of Second Samuel we find and discover that first comes the anger, and first comes the rage, and first comes the sheer displeasure toward perceived sins, and then comes the death blow that ultimately produces the humility, the brokenness, the repentance, and the surrender that is truly needed in order to truly experience change and transformation. Consider if you will the narrative and account of the prophet Nathan and David the king of Israel, as well as the words which David prayed and cried out in the sight and presence of the living God after he had not only been confronted with the fact that he was the man in the story—the man whom he raged and railed against—but also as he was brought face to face with his sin as the LORD revealed and exposed it unto the prophet of the LORD:

“And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And there came a traveler unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. And David’ anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD GOD of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; and I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? Thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to by thy wife. Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. And Nathan departed unto his house” (2 Samuel 12:1-15).

“To the chief musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bath-Sheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all Mindie iniquities. Creat in me a clear heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O LORD, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offer: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar” (Psalm 51:1-19).

It is absolutely necessary to read each of these passages together, for these passages help form and create a full and complete picture concerning the interaction which took place between David and the prophet Nathan. As you read the words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the book of Second Samuel you will quickly encounter and come face to face with the fact that the story and parable which the prophet Nathan spoke and declared unto David was meant to test the condition of his heart, and to see how he would respond and react to what he had just heard. It’s actually quite astounding to think about and consider the fact that the prophet Nathan had absolutely no clue, nor did he have any indication how David would respond to the narrative and story he would be told, nor yet how he would react once Nathan proclaimed and declared unto him that he was the man in the parable. The parable and story which the prophet Nathan declared unto David was not merely meant to illicit a response from him, but it was also meant to bring him the point where he could be confronted with the fact that he was the man whom he railed and raged against. Oh how absolutely tremendous it is to think about and consider the fact that the very thing David railed and raged against was the very thing he himself would be guilty of. It is this concept of David raging and railing against what he had heard that would be a clear and present indicator that he would be able to hear that he was the man in the story, and that what he found offensive and vile in the life of the man in the story was present within his own heart and life. There is not a doubt in my mind that within our own hearts and lives we can never and will never enter into, nor reach the place of true and complete transformation until and unless we are angered and outraged with and by our sin. Permit me to stop right here and ask you when was the last time you were angry and outraged at your sin. When was the last time you grew angry and offended at the sin within your heart and life? When was the last time you grew angry and offended with the iniquity that was present within your heart and life? When was the last time in prayer or in meditation and contemplation you grew angry, embittered and offended with your sin and with your iniquity? Have you ever found yourself in the place where you grew angry and offended with the idolatry and immorality within your life? Have you ever experienced that moment within your life when you became enraged with who and what you had become? What makes the narrative of David and the prophet Nathan so incredibly unique is that David was angered, enraged, embittered and outraged by the man in the story, and it was in response to his being brought face to face with his sin in the sight and presence of the LORD that his anger, his rage, his resentment, and perhaps even his bitterness toward the man that he would be able to be brought face to face with the spotlight that was upon his own heart and life.

When the prophet Nathan emphatically and boldly declared unto David, saying, “Thou art the man,” it was indeed a declaration that he was the man in the story and parable, but it was also a declaration and statement unto David that this was not the man he was created and intended on being and becoming. David did in fact encounter and come face to face with the fact that he was the man in the story, and the anger and raged which he experienced toward the sin that was committed by the man in the story was absolutely necessary and healthy for him, for it would be from that place of anger, from that place of rage, and from that place of resentment toward the man that he would be able to hear the prophet Nathan declare that he was indeed the man whom he raged against, the sin which he raged at within the man in the story was the sin that was found within his heart. The words which the prophet Nathan proclaimed in the hearing of David not only brought David face to face with the man he had allowed himself to become, but they were also intended on bringing David face to face with the reality of who and what type of man he would be moving forward from that place. Although the prophet Nathan declared unto David that he was indeed and was in fact the man, his words were also meant to declare unto David that he did not have to remain the man. Oh how absolutely astonishing and remarkable it is to think about the fact that although David was the man, and although the prophet Nathan declared unto David that he was the man, David would need to know that he did not have to stay, nor did he have to remain the man. It’s absolutely necessary and imperative that we understand this, for even though we might very well need to encounter and come face to face with the fact that we are the man, it’s important for us to know that we don’t have to remain the man. The words which the prophet Nathan emphatically declared unto David were intended on declaring unto him that he was the man in the narrative and he was the man in the story, however, as surely and as much as he was the man in the story, he didn’t have to remain the man in the story. I am convinced that this is what was so incredibly powerful about the words which were written and recorded within the fifty-first chapter of the book of Psalms, for with the words found and contained therein we find David making the conscious decision that he would not be, nor would he remain the man in the parable. WILL YOU REMAIN THE MAN IN THE PARABLE? WILL YOU REMAIN THE MAN IN THE MIRROR? WILL YOU REMAIN THE MAN IN THE STORY, OR WILL YOU DELIVER YOURSELF FROM THE STORY? ARE YOU WILLING TO DELIVER YOURSELF FROM THE STORY, OR WILL YOU REMAIN IN THE STORY? The prophet Nathan’s declaration unto David was meant to bring him to the place where he would acknowledge that he was the man in the story, and he was the man who he railed and raged against, however, he did not have to remain the man in the story.

As surely as I am sitting here today I feel absolutely compelled to emphatically declare unto those who might be reading these words that although you might be the man in the story, and although you might be the man in the mirror, you don’t have to remain the man in the story, and you don’t have to remain the man in the mirror. Although you are indeed the man in the narrative, and although you are the man whom you railed and raged against, you don’t have to remain that man. At that moment and during that time in David’s life he would have to make a decision whether or not he would remain the man in the story, or whether or not he would choose to deliver himself from the story. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize that although we might very well be the man in the story, we don’t have to remain in the story. I believe with everything inside of me that there are men and women right now who are being brought to the place where they are given an invitation to remain the man in the story, and to remain the woman in the story, or whether or not they will choose to deliver themselves from the story. There are men and women who right now will need to decide whether or not they will choose to deliver themselves from the narrative and deliver themselves from the story, or whether or not they will choose to remain in the story. David was indeed the man in the story, and David was indeed the man whom he railed and raged against, yet David did not have to remain that man. David—this man who would be known as a man after God’s own heart—would be given an invitation to remain the man in the mirror, or whether or not he would change his ways. I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the late Michael Jackson wrote in his hit song “Man In the Mirror.” If you take the time to listen to the words which were written in this song you will find the following lyrics which form the chorus of the song: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror. I’m asking him to change his ways. No message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change.” Pause for a moment and consider the first portion of the chorus, for in the first part of the chorus we find him emphatically declaring that he was starting with the man in the mirror, and that he was asking him to change his ways. It’s absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this, for this was the moment David was being brought into—that moment when he would look in the mirror, and when he would have to choose whether or not he would change his ways. Thank God that he took a good, long and hard look in the mirror, and that he did indeed and did in fact change his ways, and that he found forgiveness, he found restoration, he found salvation, he found hope, he found joy, and he found encouragement in the presence of the living God once again. David started with the man in the mirror, he asked him to change his ways, he took a look at himself and then made a change. Perhaps the question you must ask yourselves is not only whether or not you are willing to take a look in the mirror, but also whether or not you are willing to change your ways and to walk in that change.

With all of this being, it’s worth taking a look at the various kings which would sit upon the thrones in the northern kingdom of Israel, as well as the southern kingdom of Judah, for each king that would sit upon those thrones would need to make the decision very early on—not only what type of king they would be, but also what type of man they would be. It’s important for us to recognize and understand that what we find within these chapters is not a reflection of what type of kings these men were, but rather what type of men they were. The underlying truth that is found at the very heart and center of these chapters is whether or not each subsequent king that would sit upon the throne—regardless of whether it would be the throne in the northern kingdom of Israel, or in the southern kingdom of Judah—is what type of man they would be. When we read of a certain king “doing what was right in the sight of the LORD,” or of a certain king who “did what was evil in the sight of the LORD,” we must understand that it was not the king who did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, nor was the it the king who did what was right in the sight of the living God, but it was the man who made that decision. What we find and what we read here was never about the king, and it was never about the throne, but it was about the man with the position, the man upon the throne, the man with the crown upon his head, the man with the authority and power. As we read the words which are found within these chapters we must understand and come face to face with the fact that each and every king which sat upon the throne of the northern kingdom of Israel, and each king which sat upon the throne of the southern kingdom of Judah would be forced to choose what type of man they would be in the sight of the living God. More often than not it was not the king that would walk in the footsteps of another king, but it would be a man that would walk in the footsteps of another man. What’s more, is that it wouldn’t be a king that would walk in the steps of another king, but a son that would choose whether or not they would walk in the footsteps of the father. Taking this a step further, it’s worth noting and understanding when reading these words that each king that would sit upon the throne would have to choose whether or not they would be a man who would walk in the sins of the nation, or whether or not they would break away from the sins of past generations. In all reality, I am absolutely and completely convinced that we ourselves are being brought into this place where we must make the decision of what type of man and what type of woman we are going to be. The words which you find within these chapters can and will bring us face to face with the narrative of kings who chose to do that which was evil in the sight of the living God, and those kings who would chose to do what was right in the sight of the living God.

What I find to be so absolutely captivating about these chapters is that there were kings who would do what was evil in the sight of the LORD and would walk in the sins of their fathers, as well as the sins of previous generations, while there were kings who would do right in the sight of the LORD, and yet would not not destroy the high places which were found in the land. The danger which faced and surrounded the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel was whether or not they would walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat which he caused the children of Israel to sin, or whether or not they would break away from those sins and walk in righteousness in the sight of the living God. The kings of the southern kingdom of Judah would have to not only choose whether or not they would do right in the sight of the LORD or do evil in the sight of the LORD, but they would also have to choose what they would do with the high places that were present in the midst of the land. There were several kings who would do right in the sight of the living God, and yet they would make the decision to leave the high places in the land, or whether or not they would destroy those high places. In fact, there would be a number of kings who would do what was right in the sight of the living God, yet would not address, nor would they confront the high places which were found in the land. In all reality, I am absolutely and completely convinced there is a tremendous danger in doing what is right in the sight of the LORD, and yet choosing not to confront the high places which are and have been in existence within our homes, within our families, within our churches, within our cities, within our nation, within our hearts, within our lives, and the like. Isn’t it interesting to think about and consider the fact that there would be kings who would in fact do what was right in the sight of the LORD, and yet they would choose to leave the high places in existence rather than directly confronting them, tearing them down, breaking them down, and removing them from the land. What’s more, is that it wouldn’t be until Hezekiah king of Judah that the high places which were found to be present in the midst of the land would be confronted, addressed and torn down. There would be a number of kings that would sit upon the throne of David in the southern kingdom of Judah, and despite the fact that they would do what was right in the sight of the LORD, they would choose to leave the high places in existence in the midst of the land. What’s more, is that when you consider the kings which would sit upon the throne of David in Jerusalem, David the king of Israel would seem to be the standard of walking in righteousness in the sight of the living God. Consider if you will the words which are written and recorded in the books of First and Second Kings concerning the kings of Judah which would sit upon the throne of David and reign from Jerusalem:

“But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goodess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrifice unto their gods” (1 Kings 11:1-8).

“And Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah. Rehoboam was forty and one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the LORD did choose out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there. And his mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonitess. And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. For they also built them high places, and images, and groves, on every high hill, and under every green tree. And there were also sodomites in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel” (1 Kings 14:21-24).

“Now in the eighteenth year of king Jeroboam the son of Nebat reigned Abiram over Judah. Three years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Maachah, the daughter of Abishalom. And he walked in all the sins of his father, which he had done before him: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father. Nevertheless for David’s sake did the LORD his God give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem: because David di that which was right in the yes of the LORD, and turned not aside from any thing that he commanded him all the days of his life, save only in the matter of Uriah the Hittite” (1 Kings 15:1-5).

“And in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel reigned Asa over Judah. And forty and one years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Maacchah, the daughter of Abishalom. And Asa did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father. And he took away the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made. And also Maachah his mother, even her he removed from being queen, because she had made an idol in a grove; and Asa destroyed her idol, and burnt it by the brook Kidron. But the high places were not removed: neverhtless Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days. And he brought in the things which his father had dedicated, and the things which himself had dedicated, into the house of the LORD, silver, and gold, and vessels” (1 Kings 15:9-15).

“And Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. Jehoshaphat was thirty and five years old when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and f I’ve years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. And he walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of the LORD; nevertheless the high places were not taken away; for the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places. And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel” (1 Kings 22:41-44).

“And in the fifth year of Joram the sons of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshapht king of Judah began to reign. Thirty and two years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as did the house of Ahab: for the daughter of Ahab was his wife: and he did evil in the sight of the LORD. Yet the LORD would not destroy Judah for David his servan’ts sake, as he promised him to give him alway a light, and to his children” (2 Kings 8:16-19).

“In the twelfth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel did Ahaziah the son of Jehoram king of Judah begin to reign. Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign; and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Athaliah, the daughter of Omri king of Israel. And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the LORD, as did the house of Ahab: for he was the son in law of the house of Ahab” (2 Kings 8:25-27).

“In the seventh year of Jehu Jehoash began to reign; and forty years reigned he in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Zibiah of Beer-sheba. And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all the days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him. But the high places were not taken away: the people still sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places. And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD, even the money of every one that passeth the account, the money that every man is set at, and all the money that cometh into any man’s heart to bring into the house of the LORD, let the priests take it to them, every man of his acquaintance: and let them repair the breaches of the house, where soever any breach shall be found” (2 Kings 12:1-5).

“In the second year of Joash son of Jehoahaz king of Israel reigned Ahaziah the son of Joash king of Judah. He was twenty and five years old when he began to reign, and reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jehoaddan of Jerusalem. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, yet not like David his father: he did according to all things as Joash his father did. Howbeit the high places were not taken away: as yet the people did sacrifice and burnt incense on the high places. And it came to pass, as soon as the kingdom was confirmed in his hand, that he slew his servants which had slain the king his father. But the children of the murderers he slew not” (2 Kings 14:1-6).

“In the twenty and seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel began Azaraih son of Ahaziah king of Judah to reign. Sixteen years old was he when he began to reign, and he reigned two and fifty years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jecholiah of JEruslaem. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Ahaziah had done; save that the high places were not removed: the people sacrificed and burnt incense still on the high places” (2 Kings 15:1-4).

“In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel began Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah to reign. Five and twenty years old was he when he bang to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Jerusha, the daughter of Zadok. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done. Howbeit the high places were not removed: the people sacrifice and burned incense still in the high places. He built the higher gate of the house of the LORD” (2 Kings 15:32-35).

“In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of REmaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God, like David his father. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree” (2 Kings 16:1-4).

“Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses. And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not. He smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city” (2 Kings 18:1-8).

BUT DESTROYED NOT THE HIGH PLACES! TOOK OF THE TREASURES OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD! ASA AND HEZEKIAH DESTROYED THE HIGH PLACES! If you take the time to continue reading the words which are written within these chapters you will encounter and come face to face with the tremendous reality that with each subsequent king that sat upon the throne of David in the southern kingdom of Judah and perhaps one of the greatest during the days of their reign. The more you read the words which are found in these chapters the more you will come to understand that in addition to whether or not they would do that which was right in the sight of the LORD, they would also need to determine what they would do with the high places. As you read the words which are written and recorded within these chapters you will find that while there were a number of righteous kings who did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, they nonetheless left the high places up which the children of Israel had set up during the days of Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah. Moreover, there was still the matter of the mount of Corruption, the high places, the altars and the shrines which Solomon had himself set up within the southern kingdom of Judah. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that beginning with that first generation after Solomon’s death, a decision would need to be made what to do with the high places that were in existence within the land. Would the high places be permitted to remain in the land, or would the high places be removed and utterly cast down and destroyed. It’s worth noting that during the days of Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, as well as during the days of Abjjam the son of Rehoboam king of Judah the high places would remain in existence within the land. Neither Rehoboam, nor Abijam make the conscious and deliberate decision to destroy, to tear down, and to break in pieces the high places which were in existence within the land. What’s more, is that it wouldn’t be until the days of Asa the son of Abijam there would be a measure and degree of tearing down the high places and beginning to cleanse and purify the land. If you examine the days of the reign of Asa you will find that he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as did David his father. What’s more, is that Asa would also remove the sodomites out of the land, and removed all the idols which his fathers had made. Asa would even take this a step further and would remove his own mother from being queen because she had made an idol in a grove. Asa would destroy her idol and would burn it by the brook Kidron, and would show a tremendous reality of what it would look like when national cleansing would take place in the land. What we learn and discover concerning Asa was that he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and his heart was perfect with the LORD all his days, yet he would not remove the high places which were set up during the days of Rehoboam king of Judah, as well as the during the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel.

If you continue reading the words which are written and recorded within these chapters you will find that beginning with Rehoboam and continuing on for the next several generations, the high places which were set up during the days of Rehoboam son of Solomon were allowed to remain in existence within the land. Each subsequent king that would sit upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem would make the conscious and deliberate decision whether or not they would do what was right in the sight of the LORD, or whether or not they would do what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and yet there would be a decision that would almost run parallel with that particular reality. In fact, one might argue that this secondary decision would almost be as important as their decision to do what was right or what was evil in the sight of the LORD. The books of First and Second Kings describe kings which did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and yet they would not remove the high places which were present in the midst of the land. Pause for a moment and consider the reality that there were righteous kings who would sit upon the throne of David in the midst of Jerusalem, and yet despite their righteousness they would fail to confront and address the high places which were present in the midst of the land. There is not a doubt in my mind that with every subsequent leader who is appointed within this nation there is a conscious decision whether or not the altars, whether or not the idols, whether or not the high places, whether or not the false gods of this age will be confronted and addressed. What I find to be so absolutely astonishing when reading the words found in these chapters is that each subsequent king that would sit upon the throne of David would be faced with the decision whether or not they would do what was right in the sight of the LORD, but they would also be forced to choose and make the decision whether or not they would confront, destroy, break down and remove the high places, the idols, the images, and all that was corrupt and vile in the land. Asa would remove the sodomites from the land, and he would remove all the idols which his fathers had made, yet when it came to the high places—those places which the people of the land would go to offer sacrifices and burn incense—he would allow them to remain in the land. What makes this even more intriguing when you take the time to think about and consider it is when you ask the question why the kings which would sit upon the throne of David would choose not to remove the high places which were in existence within the land. What was it about the high places in the land that would cause each subsequent king that sat upon the throne of David to leave those high places in and within the land? Was there something intimidating about the high places that were found in the land, and as a direct result of this the kings which sat upon the throne of David in the midst of Jerusalem would leave the high places alone, and would choose not to address them during their days.

As if the issue concerning the high places wasn’t enough for the kings which would sit upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem, we also find certain of the kings which sat upon that throne choosing what they would do, and how they would respond during times of crisis and during times of threats from the adversary. If you read the words which are found within these chapters you will find that there were certain days and times during the reigns of some of the kings of Judah when an enemy and adversary would come against them, and would march against the land. It would be during those days when the king which sat upon the throne of David would not only need to choose what they would do in that moment of crisis, and in that moment when there would be an imminent threat and danger. What’s more, is that during these moments of crisis these kings would need to choose what they would do with the treasures which were present in the house of the LORD, and even what they would do with the house of the LORD. You will recall that as early as the days of Rehoboam son of Solomon who reigned upon the throne of David a decision would need to be made concerning what would be done with the house of the LORD, and what would be done with the treasures that were found in the house of the LORD. During the days of the kings of the southern kingdom of Judah—not only would they need to make a conscious and deliberate decision what they would do with the high places that were in existence within the land, but they would also need to make a conscious and deliberate decision how they would react and how they would respond during a time of crisis and during a time when enemies and adversaries were raised up and came against the land. Time and time again during the days of the southern kingdom of Judah you will find that during times of crisis, and during times when adversaries and enemies would come against the city of Jerusalem and against the southern kingdom of Judah, the kings which would sit upon the throne would turn to the house of the LORD for the answer. Now, while on the surface it might look and appear as though their turning to the house of the LORD was a good thing, it’s important to realize that their turning to the house of the LORD was not as it pertains to prayer and seeking the face of God as they would offer up their petitions before Him in His presence. When the kings which sat upon the throne of David in the southern kingdom of Judah would be faced with a moment of crisis, and with a moment when a foreign enemy and adversary advanced against and threatened the land, they would turn to the house of the LORD, yet not in prayer and supplication, but rather in terms of what they could get and what they could gain from the house of the LORD which they might use to get them out of the present crisis they faced.

TURNING TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD—NOT FOR ANSWERS IN PRAYER, BUT TO TAKE WHAT WAS SACRED, TO TAKE WHAT WAS HOLY, TO TAKE WHAT WAS PRECIOUS, AND TO TAKE WHAT WAS VALUABLE AND GIVE IT TO ANOTHER! From the days and time of Rehoboam son of Solomon all the way through till the days of Hezekiah the king of Judah several generations later you will find that for most kings which sat upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem, it would be easier to turn to the house of the LORD, and to remove the silver and gold from the house, and even to take from the treasures that were in the house of the LORD in order that they might deliver them unto one other than the living God to save and deliver them. Please don’t miss and lose sight of this absolutely tremendous and astonishing reality, for it is this reality which we must encounter and come face to face with, for we are currently living in a time of tremendous crisis during these days. There is a foreign enemy and adversary that has not only invaded the land, but which has also swept across the globe, and as a direct result of this foreign enemy and adversary, rulers, leaders, kings, prime ministers, presidents, world leaders and the like are forced with a decision what they are going to do to address this crisis and this unprecedented time. For most there is no context and nothing to point to that can give them any type of clarity on how to deal with this unseen enemy and adversary that is sweeping across the globe and that has killed more than two-hundred thousand individuals across the globe. In all reality, there is a part of me that can’t help but get the strong sense that during times of crisis leaders of this world are forced to make a decision as to how they are going to respond to the crisis, and what they are going to do to address it. During the days of crisis, and during the days when enemies and adversaries were raised up against the city of Jerusalem, and against the southern kingdom of Judah we find it written and recorded how the kings which would sit upon the throne of David would turn to the house of the LORD, and yet they would only turn to the house of the LORD for what they could get from it. Pause right there and think about it, for there is a powerful and profound picture that is found here concerning the kings which sat upon the throne of David and how they handled times of crisis , for they would indeed turn to the house of the LORD, yet they would not turn to the house of the LORD in order that they might seek the face of the LORD in prayer, but rather in order that they might lay hold of and seek what they could take from it and give to their enemies and adversaries, and even those whom they would turn to for deliverance and salvation during those times.

TURNING TO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD FOR WHAT YOU CAN GET FROM IT DURING TIMES OF CRISIS! There would be kings which would sit upon the throne of David during these days and during these times, and they would turn to the house of the LORD during those times, yet only for what they could get from the house of the LORD. What’s worth noting is that their turning to the house of the LORD was not based on what they could get from the LORD of the house, but what they could get from the house of the LORD. Permit me to stop right here and ask the question of whether or not you turn to the house of the LORD to get what you can from the house, or whether or not you turn to the LORD of the house in order that you might seek His face and entreat Him during moments of crisis within your life. There were kings which sat upon the throne of David during these days which would walk through and experience times of crisis, and times when a foreign enemy and adversary would come against the land, and it would be during those times they would turn to the house of the LORD in order that they might use the house for their own means and for their own gain. There would be kings that would sit upon the throne of David that would turn to the house of the LORD rather than the LORD of the house, for what they found within and what they found upon the house of the LORD could be used to appease their enemies, or even to solicit deliverance and salvation from another who would help them during those times. There is not a doubt in my mind that during these times of crisis which we are presently in—not only are we faced with the decision of what we are going to do with the high places (those sins of our fathers and those sins of previous generations), but we are also going to need to make a decision what we are going to do in the midst of the crisis. There is not a doubt in my mind that there are men and women who can and will indeed turn to the house of the LORD during these times, and yet they will not turn to the house of the LORD in order that they might lay hold of the horns of the altar, nor in order that they might weep between the porch and the altar, but in order that they might somehow use the house to their own advantage. One of the greatest dangers and temptations during this time is to take that which is holy and that which is sacred and turning it over into the hands of the enemies and adversaries. One of the greatest dangers and temptations during this time is to choose what we are going to do within our own hearts and lives, and whether or not we are going to turn to the LORD of the house, or whether or not we are going to to use the house of the LORD for our own selfish gain, and for our own means to an end. There were kings which sat upon the throne of David which would turn to the house of the LORD in order that they might strip the house of the LORD of what was sacred, what was precious, what was consecrated, what was valuable, and what was holy in the sight of the LORD.

As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to this reality of turning to the house of the LORD rather than the LORD of the house, for one of the greatest decisions we can and will make is whether or not we are going to use the house for our own advantage and for our own gain, or whether or not we are going to truly turn our hearts toward and seek the face of the living God. What I find to be so absolutely remarkable and astonishing during this time is that there are houses of the LORD across this nation, and even across the globe which aren’t even open. When the events of September 11th nineteen years ago took place the houses and doors of the churches were open, and even during the events of the economic collapse twelve years ago the houses of the LORD with its doors were opened. During this time, however, and in the face of this invisible enemy the doors of the house are no longer open, and men and women are forced to determine how they are going to deal with this time of crisis, as well as how they are going to deal with this unseen enemy together with the fear, the anxiety, the terror, the dread, the confusion and the chaos that surrounds it. There is not a doubt in my mind that during these times we are being forced to make a strong and powerful decision what we are going to do, as we can no longer turn to the house of the LORD, and are instead forced to turn to the LORD of the house. There is not a doubt in my mind that during these times the LORD is not and has not shut off and closed His house in order that we might turn to the LORD of the house rather than the house of the LORD. For too long there have been men and women who have used the house of the LORD for their own means to an end, and for their own gain, and for what they can get and receive from it, and yet during these times the LORD is forcing men and women into a place where they cannot and will not seek the house of the LORD for their answers, but rather seek the LORD of the house. I find it absolutely amazing that during these times the house of the LORD is closed and shut down to the masses, which is something we have never known or experienced before. What do you do during times of crisis when the house of the LORD is closed and shut down and you are no longer able to turn to it as you normally would? What do you do when there is an unseen enemy and adversary that is sweeping across the globe infecting millions and killing thousands, and you have no context for it? Where do you go and who do you turn to during this time? Where do you run to and where do you find your strength, your deliverance, your salvation, your deliverance, your encouragement, your joy, your strength, your hope, and everything you desire? During times of crisis in the southern kingdom of Judah the kings turned to the house of the LORD and used it to their own advantage and to their own gain, and during these times when we can’t turn to the house of the LORD we are forced to make a decision whether or not we are going to turn to the LORD of the house, whether or not we are going to lay hold of the horns of the altar, and whether or not we are going to cast ourselves upon our faces between the porch and the altar that we might cry out in the sight and presence of the LORD with fasting, with weeping and mourning.

IF there is one thing I feel compelled to leave you with as I bring this writing to a close, it’s the tremendous reality that I can’t help but believe within the very depths of my heart and soul that we have spent far too long thinking that church was the building. For far too. Long we have thought and believed that church is a place we go on Sunday mornings, or perhaps even one or more times during the week. We have thought and believed that church was a physical place and location, and we have completely missed the point and reality that church is not someplace we go, nor is it a physical building. When the apostle Paul wrote and spoke of the saints and servants of the most High God he referred to them as the Temple of the Holy Spirit and the body of Christ. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for these are two of the most powerful metaphors and spiritual symbols for the church of Jesus Christ—not including the reference to the church as the bride of Christ. The apostle Paul recognized that the Church of Jesus Christ was not made of human hands and was not a physical location or physical building, but was something that was made up of the hearts and lives of those who walked with and followed the Lord Jesus Christ. I am absolutely during this time we are currently living in—as surely as we are being brought to the place where we must choose whether or not we will use the house of the LORD for our own selfish gain, or whether we will seek the LORD of the house and His face—we must also recognize and understand the absolutely astonishing reality that perhaps the doors of our churches are being and have been shut down in order that we might realize and recognize the absolutely astonishing reality that the Church is not a building in a geographical location, but is a building that is made up of flesh and blood and the hearts and spirits of men. There is a Temple that exists in the earth that was not and has not been made with human hands, and it is a Temple that stands not in the city of Jerusalem, but is something that is fluid and liquid in the earth. It is not something that can be confined to a single geographical location, nor can it be assigned to a specific building or place. I would dare say that the church buildings are closed and shut down during these days in order that we might be brought to the realization that church is not something we do, but it’s something we are. There are countless churches that continue to meet as they always have, or have even resorted to a drive in format, and yet I can’t hep but wonder if half of these churches are doing nothing more than continuing to do church rather than being the church. What if during this time the Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is revealing unto us that we do not go to church, and church is not something we do on a weekly basis, but it is who we are and who we have been called and made to be. Oh, I would dare say that during these days and times we are being called and brought to the place where we must recognize that we are called to be the church and not simply go to church or do church as though it somehow something that is pleasing and glorifying to the living God.

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