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2 Chronicles 31:1
Until they had utterly destroyed them all.
Mark the word “utterly.” It is for want of that word that so many men have failed. Many men have cut off the heads of weeds. Any man can do that. The weed is in the root, and the root is not straight down in the earth, so that it can be taken out easily; after a certain depth it ramifies, and care must be taken that we get out every fibre and filament, and having got it out, turn it upside down, and let the sun do the rest. A man has undertaken to abstain from some evil pursuit for a month: he has clipped off the top of the weed and looks just as well as anybody else, but he is not; he has still the root in him, and that must be taken out, though he be half murdered in the process. (J. Parker, D.D.)
Reform must lead to regeneration
To utterly destroy an idol first, even were it possible, would not be lasting. What must come first in the order of time? Religious enthusiasm, religious conviction; deep, intense spiritual fellowship with God; a look into heaven; vital sympathy with the Cross; a purification of hand and life and tongue, and body, soul, and spirit, by the Passover rightly eaten; and then what giants will go forth with axes of lightning to smite pillar and asherah and idol and every vain thing. Men cannot strike finally if they sot only as reformers. Reform is an active word, and is to be regarded with great favour, and is the only word that is permissible under some circumstance; but the greater word is regeneration. Reform that does not point to regeneration is a waxen flower that will melt when the sun is well up in the heavens. (J. Parker, D. D.)
There are three effects which ought always to follow our solemn assembly on the Lord’s day. We should go home and--
I. Break in pieces all our images.
4. Business; false measures and false weights.
II. Cut down the groves. Groves are the places where the images have been set up. There was nothing mark you, positively sinful in the grove; but they have been used for sinful purposes, and therefore down they must come. We would specify--
1. The theatre.
2. The tavern.
3. So-called recreation, dancing, etc.
4. Evil books. Light literature, the moral of which is anything but that of piety and goodness.
III. Throw down the high places and altars, etc. God had said that He would have but one altar, namely, at Jerusalem. There should be a casting down of everything in connection with the true worship that is not according to the law of God and the word of God. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, unto their own cities.--
Home missionary zeal
In evangelising our own countrymen we must proceed--
I. In the employment of those means which are congenial with the spirit of the dispensation under which we live. The men of Israel were fully justified in doing as described in the text. They lived under a Theocracy, and idolatry was high treason. We live under a different dispensation. “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal.” To destroy the idolatry which still reigns in our land we must go forth and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Hezekiah’s proclamation of the Passover and its consequences as described in the preceding chapter suggests how this has to be done.
1. Distinctly (verse 1).
2. Boldly. In spite of ridicule (verse 10).
3. Affectionately (verse 6-9).
4. Prayerfully (verse 18).
II. By ourselves living consistently with the profession we make, and the great cause we have espoused. Our lives must be characterised--
1. By sincerity and uprightness (2 Chronicles 31:20-21).
2. By joy and praise (2 Chronicles 30:21).
3. By self-denial and sacrifice (2 Chronicles 30:24).
III. With a determination to take no rest till the object we have in view is fully accomplished. “Until they had utterly destroyed them all.” (H. Townley.)
2 Chronicles 31:20-21
And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good.
Hezekiah-an example for young men
I. Hezekiah’s religion.
1. It was expensive. He set about reforming the national religion. The spirit of such a life should be, must be, respected in every one of us if the religion we possess is to be worth anything. The young man whose mind is that of Jesus Christ has learned to live, not for himself, but for others. Harlan Page was a house joiner at Coventry, in America. His social position gave him but little influence, but what he had he gave to God. He was the living missionary wherever he went. See how God’s grace brought him out of self. He wrote: “When I first obtained a hope I felt that I must labour for souls. I prayed, year after year, that God would make me the means of saving souls.” Is your position that of a clerk? Imitate David Nasmith, who without talent or money sanctified the desk by working for Christ and perishing souls. He was the founder of City Missions, and the home heathen owe more to the Glasgow clerk than to any man who ever lived. Is your position that of a military officer? Imitate Hadley Vicars. The soldier of the Queen became the soldier of Christ. He had hard work to stand his ground at mess, but he did stand it; and one of the soldiers said, “Since Mr. Vicars became so good he has steadied about four hundred men in the regiment.” Is your position that of a merchant? Imitate George Moore, who rose to his partnership by sterling integrity, high principle, and hard work. He had no idea of growing rich and forgetting those by whose labours he accumulated his wealth. Every clerk and servant in his employment knew, in a very tangible way, that a good year’s business had been done. In a word, young men, whatever you may be, peer or peasant, professional man or tradesman, merchant or mechanic--come out in God’s strength as a religious man, and live for others. Let your sympathies embrace suffering bodies and perishing souls. Never mind being poor. Much of God’s work in this world has been done by men of little education, slender means, and few advantages. Do your duty for Christ and your influence will reach further than you think. “Thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah.”
2. It was sound. He “wrought that which was good and right, and truth before the Lord his God..” A young man’s religion, to be worth anything, must be sound. If he is to do anything which is “good and right and truth,” he must--
(1) Be able to give some account of the hope which is in him; he must get out of the company of those who “understand neither what they say, nor what they affirm.”
(2) Base his religion on a personal study of the Bible.
(3) Support his religion by the plain lessons of history; the religious history of our own country.
(4) Continually submit to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.
(5) Above all, his religion must be centred in a personal Saviour.
3. It was whole-hearted.
II. Hezekiah’s reward. “And prospered.”
1. His reward was of God.
2. He had his reward in his country. What a benefactor he must have appeared in the eyes of his subjects.
3. He had his reward in himself. (John Burbidge.)
Life in earnest
I. The sphere which Christian earnestness occupies in the Divine life.
1. It will make a man think very earnestly for his Lord and Master. In the diary of Jonathan Edwards we find the following account of his feelings towards the Lord’s work: “I had great longing for the advancement of Christ’s kingdom in the world; my secret prayer used to be in great part taken up in praying for it. If I heard the least hint of anything that had happened in any part of the world which appeared to me in some respect or other to have favourable aspect on the interest of Christ’s kingdom, my soul eagerly caught at it, and it would much animate and refresh me. I used to read public news letters, mainly to see if I could find some news favourable to the interest of religion in the world.” When we are full of zeal for God it is the same with us.
2. It will make a man plan and purpose for the cause of Christ.
3. It will show itself in perseverance.
4. It will show its zeal in an entire dependence upon God, and in intensely fervent prayer for God’s help and for God’s blessing.
II. Arguments which provoke to this earnestness.
1. The greatness of the work we have to deal with.
2. The earnestness of Satan.
3. The responsibilities which lie upon us as a Church.
4. The onflowing of the stream of death.
5. The love which we have received of Jesus.
III. May god give me fresh grace while i undertake the solemn work of dealing with careless and unconverted souls. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
The character of Hezekiah
Every man who wishes to do good in his generation, who would bless others and be blessed himself, must cultivate the same principle of goodness that Hezekiah did. In every work that he began, “he did it with all his heart.”
I. Inducements which should lead us to adopt this prudent and decisive conduct.
1. It saves time; or at least it leads us to apply every part of it to the best advantage. It prevents our life being abridged by years of irresolution and delay. It gives us the assurance that we are husbanding our talent well.
2. It secures our continual happiness.
3. Its beneficial effects on society are incalculable.
II. Examples of this principle are to be found--
1. In the Bible. Moses, Ezra, Nehemiah, etc.
2. In general history.
The origin and progress of almost everything great and good in society has been achieved by the zeal and active virtues of a few individuals. The advancement of the arts and sciences; the extension of commerce; the blessings and security of a legal government; the inestimable value of a pure and reformed religion, etc. (J. Hewlett, B.D.)
Hezekiah’s good reign
A beautiful lily laid in your hand would show you nothing of the mud and slime of the river bed from which it sprung. Like such a lily is Hezekiah, the flower of kings. Some natures seem to grow strong in virtue, by contact with its opposite. Joseph, Moses, end Daniel ripened in strange gardens, and Hezekiah must have sucked honey out of thistles. Consider--
I. His reverence. Victor Hugo affirms that neither Wellington nor Blucher won the battle of Waterloo. Napoleon conquered himself. His own excessive weight destroyed the equilibrium. “He vexed God” by his importance, and so his fall was decreed. Hezekiah began his reign by exalting God and humbling himself.
II. His religious zeal.
III. His public spirit.
IV. His sincerity of heart. (Monday Club Sermons.)
How to succeed in life
There are three lessons we may learn from Hezekiah.
I. He was not afraid of work. He did not seek success without toil. “Depend upon it,” said Sir Walter Scott, “there is nothing to be had without labour.” Horace Greely said to the youth of America, “The darkest day in any man’s earthly career is that wherein he first fancies that there is some easier way of gaining a dollar than by squarely earning it.” “When I was a telegraph operator in Pittsburgh,” said Andrew Carnegie, “I knew all the men who speculated. I have lived to see all of them ruined--bankrupt in money and bankrupt in character. There is scarcely an instance of a man who has made a fortune by speculation and kept it.”
II. Hezekiah concentrated his effort. What he did, he did “with all his heart.” “The one prudence in life is concentration,” says Emerson, “the one evil is dissipation.” There is a proverb which says, “A canoe is paddled on both sides,” which means that to succeed you must do one thing at a time, and do it with all your heart and all your powers.
III. Hezekiah aimed at thoroughness in his work. (A. F. Forrest.)
Hezekiah’s thoroughness in God s service
I. We learn from Hezekiah a lesson of concentration of energy.
II. Method and punctuality, too, seem to be hinted at in the text, and they are almost indispensable to prosperity.
III. The great lesson is the value of thoroughness in doing whatever we undertake, and doing it well. Do nothing as if it were trifling.
IV. Emulate Hezekiah’s ardent and consistent piety. He stands in the front rank among the saints of Scripture as a man of prayer. (J. Thain Davidson.)
A number of tiny brooklets will turn no mill, and will probably dry up when the sun is hot, but all the water turned into one channel will move the wheel to grind the corn which may supply a town with bread. All apostles of progress in religion, or science, or philosophy, have been men whose aims have all converged to one great centre, and whose forces have been thrown upon one sublime purpose. (Handbook of Illustration.)
The objective point
In military operations there is always what is called the objective point. The objective point is the point to be made, the thing to be done; all the forces in the army are concentrated on the making of that point, and when that is made, success follows. In one sense life is a warfare, and every one should have his objective point, a clearly defined purpose, and work up to it with undeviating persistency. This is the only way he can succeed.
A dealer in pictures who makes it his business to find as many new painters as possible, both in this country and abroad, was asked recently in regard to his methods of selecting pictures to buy. He was very frank in his talk, and one thing which he said is shrewd enough to be worth quoting. “Of course,” he said, “with my experience I am able to judge whether there is promise in a painter’s work, but I never buy with any idea of putting the painter on my list until I have seen the man and talked with him myself. I always watch him closely, and I never buy his pictures unless his eye lights up when I talk to him about his work and about his profession.” The artist whose heart was really in his work could not discuss it without kindling, and the man who did not paint from the heart was not the one whose pictures the dealer wanted. The remark was not only one which showed insight and shrewdness on the part of the dealer, but it is one of a good deal of significance in regard to all work. The man who does anything worth doing is the man who cannot talk about what he has accomplished or what he hopes to accomplish without enthusiasm, no matter how far short of his ideals what he has actually done may seem to him to fall.
From Hezekiah’s conduet, and from God’s approval of it, we learn--
I. That to establish religion in a land is the duty of every righteous government.
II. That to employ the power and appliances of the state in order to extend the knowledge of God, is beneficial both to the individual and to the nation at large. (Louis Stenham, M.A.)
It is the impassioned men that have made history always, religious and secular both. They are the torch to the heaped-up combustibles; they are the pulse to the general body that is listless and waiting. No man has moved the world like Jesus Christ, because no man besides Him has embodied so wide, so profound, and so Divine enthusiasm. People are passionate in everything but their passion for men; and that is the one Christian passion. (C. H. Parkhurst.)
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Chronicles 31". The Biblical Illustrator. https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany