I just want to express my thanks for showing me something about myself that should have been so obvious and yet I was too blind to see. I love you so very much.
Yesterday I was reading through 2nd Kings and I reached a conscious point where I thought to myself that, what I was reading was just more redundant writing which was used to describe the previous king of Judah or Israel. Just more of, and _________ did evil in the eyes of the Lord.
“Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea, the son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king…And he did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah…He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel…So Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and Manasseh his son became king in his place…And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord dispossessed before the sons of Israel. For he rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had destroyed; and he erected altars for Baal and made an Asherah…”1
I think I’d become a little bored reading about the lives of leaders who did not value their relationship with God. Men, who time and time again found reasons to erect images of idols, practice the worship of images and even engage in human sacrifice. I reached the point where I just wanted to be done with the books of Kings 1 and 2. It was then that the Holy Spirit spoke to me about one particular idol that frequently gets mentioned. I became fascinated with the preoccupation each idol worshipping king seemed to have with the Asherah poles.
What was it that endeared the men to erect this image time and time again, particularly in the case of the kings of Judah when their fathers tore down the image?
Did they not learn anything from the godly fathers who preceded them?
Did they not learn any truths from the ungodly fathers who preceded them?
Two kings in particular, Hezekiah and Josiah were both godly kings who honored God and yet when they died, their sons reinstituted the worship of false gods; particularly Asherah.
I wondered what these Asherah poles did that actually enhanced the lives of those who worshipped them.
It was then that the Holy Spirit showed me that the Asherah poles represent the things in my life that I cling to out of tradition, insecurity, desire and fear. I guard over those poles in my life to the point where I subconsciously defend having them. The thought that I myself was no different from those kings whom I’ve been reading about alarmed me.
What am I holding onto that needs to be torn down?
What poles have I erected around me that function more like a barrier to God and others?
I thought about these questions and heard the word of rebelliousness. I knew I was formerly rebellious, but I no longer saw myself like that from my current vantage point looking over my life. The Holy Spirit wanted to show me a different vantage point; one that allowed me to see what I really didn’t want to see.
I saw an unwillingness to be accountable, a problem submitting to authority, and a stubbornness that sought to follow my own path. I wanted to say, “That was part of my past but I’m not that same guy anymore!” But before I could utter a word of defense, the Holy Spirit showed me little subtleties which I subconsciously acted on.
I began to realize how easy it is to hang on to things that are so totally wrong for me and think that it’s cool, it’s not a REAL problem, I can handle things fine just the way they are. By relying on my intelligence, my talents, my skills and my knowledge, I was usurping the authority of God in my life.
What did I have to show for my Asherah poles?
I felt my own devised sense of security; I was protected from ever being hurt by anyone.
Who did I think would hurt me? Why even now did I feel the need to shield myself?
As I pondered these questions, I felt something which I’d always tried to shield myself from feeling; I felt vulnerable, weak and afraid.
I thought, O God, why do I cling to ways that bring me nothing but frustration and pain? Why do I value the empty thoughts and behavior in my life?
“I want to tear down these poles that are part of my life Lord, but I don’t know if I can.”
“Surrender them to Me”, He says.
There is genuine concern for what I’m about to say but I know He knows me better than I know myself.
“I’m willing Lord, I really want to but I need Your help because I really don’t know how...”
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your way acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”2
“The troubles of my heart are enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my trouble, And forgive all my sins.”3
“O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.”4
I dont want the phrase he did evil in the sight of God to be associated with my name; I want to do what pleases you, what honors you, what worships you. Help me tear down those things in my life that I've erected. Things which hinder and harm my relationship with You, things which prevent intimacy with You. The things which keep me from being close with others. You give love to me without measure and I am constantly in awe of Your tremendous capacity to love me. Thank you Lord for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, helping me grow in grace and love for you. Amen.
- Unger's Bible Dictionary, By Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, Chicago
- The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6