Hezekiah’s lesson

Hezekiah was a pretty cool king.  The previous king, having powerful allies, had incorporated the religion of his allies into Jerusalem’s Temple, including idol worship, and eventually closed the Temple.  Upon becoming king, Hezekiah’s first acts included restoring the Temple and cleansing his country of idol worship.

Then he got deathly sick.  And Isaiah, a big-deal man of god for the last four kings, came to check it out and reported, “Sorry pal, get your house in order, ’cause you’re not sticking around.” [Isa. 38:1, heavily paraphrased—I encourage you to go read the real version.]  Hezekiah was, understandably, upset, and now had no recourse but to confront his mortality honestly.  But while open-heartedly bewailing his pain and tragedy, he had two realizations: (1) that God doesn’t sustain sin [Ibid 17], and (2)

“The dead don’t thank you [God],
    and choirs don’t sing praises from the morgue.
Those buried six feet under
    don’t witness to your faithful ways.
It’s the living—live men, live women—who thank you,
    just as I’m doing right now.” [Ibid 18-19]

These realizations: that sin is transitory, and that life is what expresses God’s glory, may have fueled his protest against his death-sentence, knowing what God preserves and what He doesn’t:

“Remember how I’ve lived my life. I’ve lived faithfully in your presence, lived out of a heart that was totally yours.” [Ibid 3]

Isaiah was already on his way out, but God didn’t even let Isaiah leave the room [II Kings 20:4] before having him turn around and promise recovery, health, and life to Hezekiah!

Now Hezekiah’s inner sense had been keen enough to protest that this apparent story of sickness and death of a righteous life didn’t fit how God ran the show, but at this point, having received conflicting diagnoses, he felt like he could use some assurance, so he asked Isaiah for some.  Isaiah said sure: God can move the time on the sundial by 10 minutes as a sign, a promise.  Hezekiah pointed out that the time on the sundial was always moving forward, so God’d better move it back 10 minutes, just to make it clear it was Him.  And, indeed, so it happened [Ibid 11].

Three days letter, Hezekiah was not dead but well.  He went on to build up Jerusalem, defeat (through reliance on God, without touching a weapon) a huge invading Assyrian army, and oversee great economic growth in his kingdom.

So next time it seems like everything’s (or anything) is going downhill, think of Hezekiah.  His keen sense of God’s truth can be yours, too.  Take a moment to honestly confront your situation.  Know God isn’t behind your fleeting faults, but that God’s glory is (and must be) expressed in your immortal goodness.

And, if need be, ask Him to prove it.

He will.

He loves you.

 

This story, a scientific explanation of it, as well as a few others, make up a Bible sermon on “mortals and immortals” that will be given at our church this Sunday morning, at 10:35 (EDT).  We’ll also sing some praises and pray a bit together.  It may be too damp out, so we’re going to meet inside at 687 Centre St. in JP, but feel free to call in at (605) 475-4000 x636128# if that’s a little far.

yours,

Grant and jpchurch

Freedom sermon this Sunday

“the truth shall make you free.”

Jesus, John 8:32

“Truth brings the elements of liberty.”

Mary Baker EddyScience and Health with Key to the Scriptures p.224

 


Freedom’s pretty important to us.

We’ve fought many wars in its name, written countless books about it, sung songs, and made movies (including the #1 movie right now).  We’ve come a long way, but we’ve got our work cut out for us – there’s a lot of bonds out there to be torn away: sensualism shackles its practitioner to a false master, as well as fueling the horrors of sex slavery; the idea that somebody is not my brother bars me from the natural expression of brotherly love to him, but is also what allows discriminatory (literal) imprisonment of way too many young men in my country and others; selfishness constricts anybody that harbors it, and can motivate leaders to take away the people’s rights.  We can see infringements of freedom in our own lives or in world events on the news.

When tyranny, literal or metaphorical, in our own lives or the world abroad, seems beyond us to rise above… where do we turn?  Well, liberty is also a constant theme in the Bible: from Egypt to Rome, from false idols to plagues, there was always some bondage to be overcome.  And the savior can always throw off that bondage.  In her seminal work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy explained that the Christ, this message of Truth come to destroy error, best exemplified by Jesus, is what enabled folks from Moses to Paul, as well as herself, her students, and anyone, to cast off their bonds, by understanding their transience, by understanding the allness of God good.  Indeed, she writes that the person trying to understand Christ

“has enlisted to lessen evil, disease, and death; and he will overcome them by understanding their nothingness and the allness of God, or good.”

Any and all apparent lack of freedom boils down to the simplest lie: that there is another power than God, divine Love.  Uncovering this truth is liberation.  This corrects sin, unshackling the sinner.  It heals disease, unbinding her whom Satan hath bound.  One big tyrannical lie is death, and the always-truth that Life is eternal overcomes that, too.  Truth overcomes these things so efficaciously because they’re not real — they have no claim in our story of harmony and growth.

I say that like it’s easy — I’m still working on it… sure seems like I’m bound with some of these irons right now, in fact.  But the scientific pursuit of this truth has liberated me from physiological and emotional manacles before, and I know that as I continue to grow in grace, more will drop away.  And all the while I can help my brothers and sisters see the truth, and see healing in their lives.  That experience is pretty great, and I highly recommend it.

So, this Sunday morning, we’ll be hearing a sermon from these two books — the Bible and Science and Health — about the unreality of sin, sickness, and death, and the freedom that is the corresponding reality of righteousness, health, life.  There’ll also be a bit of lovely prayer and song accompanying it.  We’ll be meeting at 687 Centre St. in Jamaica Plain @10:35am; won’t you join us?  (We can be joined by phone at (605) 475-4000 x636128#.)

Always love,

grant + jpchurch

 

PS: Here’s a cute little song that talks about how to see this freedom in your life: