Sunday, 6 June 2010

Testimonies – Proof of God’s Work

Some years back, a friend coerced me to attend a "meeting" at a shopping mall to hear about the virtues of a product. I cringed at the prospect of meeting people at an unfamiliar place, more so when it was under duress. It was a typical setting I would assume at any multi level marketing meet where members brought friends to venue with the hope some will become members and in turn be the recruiter's recruiter. Seats were arranged neatly before a stage and at the appointed time, the speaker did what he did. Reinforcing the wonderful properties of the wares were the users and they went at great lengths to testify the healing powers or the ailments that were cured when using the product. This is obviously a deliberate attempt to bring credibility and heighten the audience's trust. I was not convinced but picked up some pointers for my marketing pitch.


A testimony always brings credibility. The marketers have exploited this very human emotion and have been successful for some time now. In days long ago, men brought nations and communities closer to God through testimonies. God always reminded His people of His track record of His work and it serves as a testimony to those who are under threat, doubt, fear and ungodly subjugation. An inward activation of faith is prerequisite. In one duel at Mount Carmel between Elijah and the false prophets, when faith was lukewarm, God acted to fortify His supremacy. Faith was awakened within the people and subsequently, acted righteously in disposing of the imposters who peddled other gods. Our Lord never ceases to defend and fight the battles of His people, no matter what race or creed. The very least we as the benefactors can do is to proclaim His work and share with other what He has done. This was common practise after Jesus' ascension to Heaven, in the days of the apostles, as recorded in the book of Acts of the Apostles. Mere men stirred up by the Spirit of God, brought the word of God to the masses.


In the reign of King Hezekiah, Isaiah was the resident prophet in the kingdom of Judah as documented in 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles and in Isaiah. The king was steadfast in his spiritual connection with God and implemented reforms and returned to the worship of the one true God. He led his people to observe sacred feasts to honour God, a form of testimony to what his Maker has done for his ancestors. Judah was constantly harassed by heathen nations but God had delivered them through the instructions and exhortations of His servant Isaiah.


Not long after, Hezekiah was on his death bed overcome by an ailment. Isaiah visited the king and delivered the grim news to him: He is about to breathe his last (Isaiah 38). The ruler faced the wall and pleaded for his life and God instructed Isaiah to comfort the king as He has heard his pleas and will allow him to live for a further 15 years. The prophet announced the good news to Hezekiah but he asked for a sign. The king could understand that death was imminent by looking at the state of his body and acknowledged Isaiah's words as a confirmation from God. As god had delayed his demise, what would the sure sign be, the king enquired. This was not a test of God's ability but a man who just received literally grave news needed comfort at that hour. Isaiah who was God's spokesperson at that time gives Hezekiah a choice: To move the sun 10 degrees forward or backward. He chose the latter and marking the movement of the shadow cast by the sun, all could see God's work and confirm the longevity of his servant's life. A life spared and a celestial body's movement altered to the pleasure of its Maker.


In the east, Merodachbaladan a Babylonian prince noted the 10 degree aft movement of the sun. He learnt of Hezekiah's healing and the awesome confirmation from God. He sent congratulatory letters and a get-well gift for this servant of God. Upon Merodachbaladan's visit to Judah's king, Hezekiah was flattered and wasted no time in reciprocating this seemingly goodwill gesture. Every single riches, treasures, weaponry and stores were shown to the visitor's entourage, not sparing any details. Hezekiah was overjoyed and wanted to share this sense of euphoria.


Isaiah, alerted by God, confronted Hezekiah and questioned his overwhelming courtesy. Yoking with an ungodly and hostile nation is not in Judah's best interest, not even for the sake of good neighbourly and diplomatic relations. Hezekiah had let the enemy seen the prosperity and possibly its weakness in that act of friendship. Most importantly, he had missed out on the opportunity to testify the good God has done for him. He did not give glory to One who healed him and extended his life and to afford an opportunity to share this miraculous account with an unbeliever. This was betrayal and God who made us in His image, was hurt. Yes, He rejoices and can certainly be saddened.


Again Isaiah had to share unpleasant news to Hezekiah and this time, it was absolute and irrevocable. Everything that was showcased to the prince will be carted away to the eastern kingdom and his offspring will be reduced to eunuch in those foreign palaces.


Being a noble, the king accepted the judgement and acknowledged it was meted out fairly according to his brash conduct. The harsh lesson Hezekiah learn was to recognize a good deed and to speak of it unashamedly with the humble hope more of such supernatural intervention will prevail throughout his reign.


Today, we as subject to our King must be exemplary in our ways and give glory where it is due. If we can compliment our spouses, subordinates, pupils, children and those around us, what is stopping us from being a good testimony to the One who is the source of grace and blessings? What does it take for us to encourage other through our sharing?


Never miss an opportunity to be the one that extols the goodness of our God for He longs to shower His love and the more we have the attitude of gratitude, the more He blesses. You will never know when your ingratitude may be your very last!


Testify today, He will act.