Staff members take turns giving a devotion at our weekly meetings. You’re sort of in a position of being ‘on stage’ and exposed (pretty much a lesser version of writing the weekly blog: there’s no ability to fade into the woodwork).
Recently, when being advised it would soon be his turn to give devotions, a coworker said, “Okay, then, I’m going to give my staff devotion on the Book of Hezekiah.” Laughter and giggles followed. I looked around, very confused, feeling ashamed that I couldn’t understand their laughter. What are they laughing about? I didn’t know there was a Book of Hezekiah in the Bible! My heart started beating faster, and my brain raced to think this through: well, there are a lot of lesser books in the Bible; I might have missed that one. Uh oh! Perhaps they’re laughing at me since I don’t know my Bible as well as I should. Keep your face neutral, Emily, and you can look it up as soon as the staff meeting is over. I could feel my face flushing; now they’re really going to know that I don’t know!
Pastor must have seen that look on my face (after all, I was supposed to be laughing, not having the look of a deer in the headlights), because he kindly asked, “Does everyone know what the joke’s about?” More neutrality from me as there are mutterings of “Oh, yeah” and more giggling heard. I could feel myself shrinking into the chair. But, being very perceptive, Pastor said, “Okay, well, I’ll just tell you that there is NO Book of Hezekiah in the Bible. It’s an old joke that helps to ‘out’ those who are self-professing Bible scholars. After all, it is an historical name in the Bible, but it’s not a Book.”
Whew! I was momentarily let off the hook. But as soon as I got home, I whipped open my Bible for research. Nehemiah, Obadiah, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Zechariah…Okay, now I can see why Hezekiah could sound so correct! Then, I went to the internet to learn more about who was the real Hezekiah.* But, still, that short event continued to trouble me. My mother’s often-quoted Proverb 16:18 was haunting me, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Hm, there were many possibilities here: was I “self-professing to be a Bible scholar,” was I feeling ashamed of my lack of knowledge—biblical or otherwise, was it pride in admitting I didn’t know something, had I developed a haughty spirit about my beliefs? Surely, the Bible could give me some direction.
Romans 9:33 says,
As it is written:
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who believes in him will never be put to shame.”
Surely, my coworker had no ill intent; he was merely making a joke among people he assumed would know his reference. But, it was a stumbling stone for me, placed perhaps by the One who knew I needed to delve deeper into the Bible. Then, I read further.
Romans 10:10-12 says,
“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,”
Yes, long ago, I put my full faith in the Lord and will always continue to do so. He doesn’t want me to feel shame. But, I do think He wanted me to reflect more on this biblical insecurity and to learn more about Him.
I have been reading Daily Devotionals and studying with my ChristCare group and trying to “walk the talk” in my daily life. But, I think He is encouraging me to become a better student of the Bible, developing a more thorough understanding. I suppose I’ve already begun some of this further study, and it will probably take a lifetime of continual learning. But, at least I now know that I won’t be embarrassed at the Pearly Gates if I’m asked if I know the Book of Hezekiah!
Just in case you are ever caught up in the Book of Hezekiah trick, here’s a bit of background about this famous king:
Hezekiah was the 12th King of Judah, and one of the most prominent kings of Judah mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. Hezekiah reigned from about 715 to 686 BC, following in a line from Saul, David, and Solomon. He enacted sweeping religious reforms, including a strict mandate to center people’s praises on Yahweh and a prohibition on worshipping other deities within the Temple in Jerusalem. Isaiah and Micah prophesied during his reign—and they DO have books in the Bible! To learn more, there are many biblical references to Hezekiah and articles online to give more details about this fascinating king.
Your friend in Christ,