It is the day after the Lord liberated Jerusalem. King Hezekiah walks along the ramparts alone. Then he looks east … and he prays:
Blessed + be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
he has come to his people and set them free.
The fear, chaos, privation of the last 10 years washed over the King but it was replaced by gratitude, love, and peace for the Lord. The gratitude was all the greater as the King recalled the Temple, denuded of its silver and gold. And yet, the Lord remained faithful and rescued undeserving Judah.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old †
that he would save us from our enemies, *
from the hands of all who hate us.
The King paused. The words poured out. Could this be the time that that Prophet Moses had promised had come. Will I get a chance to see him? Nahum, man of Elkosh? Isaiah, son of Amos? Someone to come? Someone who was already there, but not yet? Nahum seemed to have spoken of him:
Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! Celebrate your festivals, Judah, and fulfill your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed.
How I long for Him! Baruch Adonai!
Hezekiah fell silent; he stood there alone, but not alone, feeling God’s mighty, loving presence.
Prayer soon welled up from his soul and he prayed:
He promised to show mercy to our fathers *
and to remember his holy covenant.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: *
to set us free from the hands of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear, *
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life..
He, Hezekiah, had stripped the Temple of its gold and silver; while the Lord had been faithful as Moses had promised; as Isaiah, son of Amoz, had promised; as Nahum, man of Elkosh, had promised; as the Messiah would fulfill.
Now, they could worship with perfect love; the people of Judah could live in a loving, perfect relationship with the Lord. The Lord had made them for this and now they were free.
Then, it was as if the Lord was speaking to Hezekiah, with an infinitely tender, but infinitely strong voice:
You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High; *
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,
to give his people knowledge of salvation *
by the forgiveness of their sins.
Hezekiah prostrated himself.
After a time, Hezekiah stood up and returned to the palace. He called the scribes and proclaimed thanksgiving to the Lord with these words:
In the tender compassion of our God *
the dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, *
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Hezekiah prayed these words and prayed that God’s glory be spread to the ends of the Earth until the end of his days “and the Lord was with him.”
Zechariah’s canticle, which I adapted to King Hezekiah, is from Luke 1:68-79. The last quotation is from 2 Kings 18:7.
Filed under: Uncategorized |