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The Final Test

It was Hezekiah who blocked the upper outlet of the Gihon spring and channeled the water down to the west side of the City of David. He succeeded in everything he undertook. But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart. 2 Chronicles 32:30-31.

When my (random) pages of scripture this morning turned out to be 2 Chronicles 32 and 33, I was rather dismayed. It is Good Friday and I had hoped for some text relating to the events on Calvary that we remember today of all days. But then, in these two verses, I realised I had a text relating to Calvary!

On the face of it, 2 Chronicles 32 is about a good king of Israel, Hezekiah. A devout man who knew God and walked closely with him. Yet in these verses, we find that at a crucial moment God deliberately left him. Why? To test him and know what was in his heart. How well I know from my own life how easy it is to be full of holy joy when there is a clear sense of God’s presence, but how hard when God seems to have vanished. That is when I see (and more to the point perhaps, God sees) how much faith I really have … how committed to God I really am.

And as I look to the cross today I see that, supremely and in a way beyond our comprehension, what happened to Hezekiah happened to Jesus too. I hear that great cry of abandonment recorded in Matthew 27:46: “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? … My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” And the answer is presumably the answer in my text this morning: to test Jesus and know what was in his heart in these final moments before death closed in on him. Was there anything there of darkness, of bitterness, of anger, of resentment, of lack of love? We have to wait three days for the answer, but when it comes it will be No. Even at the very end, Satan had no hold on him (John 14:30). Jesus died as he lived in sinless perfection — even in the seeming absence of the Father with whom until that very last moment of his earthly life he had been inseparably one.

And once again I look upon
the cross where you died,
I’m humbled by your mercy
and I’m broken inside.
Once again I thank you,
once again I pour out my life.

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