Pride and Humility

2 Chronicles 30:10-12

As Hezekiah intends to reconcile the divided nation and reunite them to return to the Lord by coming to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover together, he sends out messengers to one city after another throughout Israel (the northern kingdom). By this time, the kingdom of Israel has fallen (ca. 722 BC) and became another Assyrian province. Its citizen has been largely scattered throughout the Assyrian empire. It lost its royal house and its independence. It had already lost the purity of its worship of Yahweh many years before but the religious picture was made worse, from the biblical point of view, by the settlement of many foreigners in this territory, who imported a multitude of idolatrous practices, and settled down to intermarry with the local population. In this sense, the ten tribes of Israel were lost.

With his background in mind, we may perceive the response of the people toward the messengers of Hezekiah. In general, the people in the north slighted the call, laughed at the messengers to scorn and even mock them. Perhaps some perceived the invitation as ridiculous since they did not believe in Yahweh and worshipped other gods. Perhaps some thought that Yahweh is not the Almighty God after all since they had been defeated by the Assyrians, which consequently meant that Yahweh was defeated by the Assyrian’s deity. Perhaps some simply desired to move on and navigate their lives as best as they could relying on their own resources in the midst of power contention between kingdoms. They ultimately failed to understand that their reality was the consequence of their unfaithfulness to their God. It requires humility to respond rightly to God. Yet the people in the north have responded in pride and ignorance.

Pride and ignorance keep people from yielding themselves to the Lord. Very often that is our way of responding to God as well. John highlighted one of three “essential sins” which he categorized as “all that is in the world,” to be pride of life (1 John 2:16). There are many biblical warning about the sin of pride (cf. Proverbs 8:13, 21:4) and the notion that it generates every other sins. C.S. Lewis calls pride “the essential vice, the utmost evil, the complete anti-God state of mind.”

In spite of general rejection, however, God is faithful in preserving some remnants even in the worst times of Israel. Some people of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem, and along with people of Judah in unity to return to the Lord. The humble response of those in Israel as well as Judah was due to the “hand of God,” as are true of all genuine reformations. The result was a spiritual unity that had not existed for many years. When there is humility, there is spiritual restoration. Let us humble ourselves before God!

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)