A Tale of Integrity and Conformity

The king of Babylon sent envoys with letters and a present to Hezeki’ah; for he heard that Hezeki’ah had been sick. And Hezeki’ah welcomed them, and he showed them all his treasure house, the silver, the gold, the spices, the precious oil, his armory, all that was found in his storehouses; there was nothing in his house or in all his realm that Hezeki’ah did not show them. Then Isaiah the prophet came to King Hezeki’ah, and said to him, “What did these men say? And whence did they come to you?” And Hezeki’ah said, “They have come from a far country, from Babylon.” He said, “What have they seen in your house?” And Hezeki’ah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing in my storehouses that I did not show them.” Then Isaiah said to Hezeki’ah, “Hear the word of the LORD: Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the LORD. And some of your own sons, who are born to you, shall be taken away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.” Then said Hezeki’ah to Isaiah, “The word of the LORD which you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “Why not if there will be peace and security in my days?”

2 Kings 13-19 RSV

The Tale

My children, once there was a king, from a long line of kings, named Hezeki’ah the New. He was righteous or at least perceived to be so since he’d long cultivated his story of eminence, power, and a sense of co-regency. But as time and age crept upon him, his patience and long- suffering plans became profound insecurities. As a consequence, the king suffered a reversal.

Hezeki’ah the New came to view his reign as earthly, not an energy based on God Who is supreme.

Faith in the eternal kingdom suffered and was superseded by want of earthly treasure and security. You see, Hezeki’ah the New’s storehouses were empty. The secular catechism of the day, earthly riches and authority, overwhelmed him and redefined the precious reality of Truth. Despite having stated as Hezeki’ah, “Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in thy sight,” Hezeki’ah the New’s mind and heart wavered.

Knowing of new Hezeki’ah’s fears and waning authority, the emissaries of Babylon visited. He, in distress, showed them his coffers, literal and of mind. The storehouses instead of being filled with treasures of gold and silver, and hope, they were barren and bare. Dreams of grandeur were unfulfilled. In reality fears of ignominy and doubts of God’s glory fell to wants of the day.

Babylon expressed mocked dismay that Hezeki’ah the New’s kingdom was barren and insignificant. Babylon offered to fill the storehouses with treasure beyond belief. It even offered to support Hezeki’ah the New’s adventures into new realms of power. But there was one requirement. “What is it?” Hezeki’ah the New wanted to know. The Babylonian Prince pretending contemplation stroked his beard and added, “Your faith must become our faith.” And with a smooth wave of his hand added, “After all, it’s not that much different. And,” the Prince said with a smile, “it is so much more in tune with the times.”

Hezeki’ah the New’s fears of ignominy and existential questions of the Truth of God’s glory succumbed to the desires of the day, fame and power. Given the promises and protection proffered, Hezeki’ah the New chose to participate in the wiles of the Prince of this world.

Some say Hezeki’ah the New wavered for just a moment, but then the treasure trove arrived. The gold and the silver, so brilliant, Hezeki’ah the New had to cover his eyes lest he be blinded. But it was too late; brightness abounded, but darkness had touched his soul.

Hezeki’ah the New hesitantly asked, “And what else must I do?” And the Prince of Babylon responded, “All that I ask is that you support us in our adventures—as we support you; together we will grow as one. United, we will change the world.” The Prince added a wink in confidence.

Hezeki’ah the New still curious asked, “What will happen?” The Prince of Babylon smiled, “You will be famous! Treasures will abound!” After a brief moment, Hezeki’ah the New answered, “Why not if there will be peace and security in my days?”

The Prince smiled and in departing turned to his entourage, whispering, “Did I not tell you every man has his price?”

The princely minions asked, “What does this mean?”

The Prince smiled in his brilliance, “Man lives for today, not his children, and certainly not the children yet to be born. Man lives for what he sees, not what has been or will be. It’s been that way from the beginning. I know. I was there.”

The minions asked, “And what then did he sacrifice? Was it all about mere gold and silver?”

“The sacrifice,” the Prince replied, “was two-fold and deep. The first was personal, one of integrity. The second was hope. Now,” and the Prince’s eyes flared, “we have a great ally, who will bring others weak to conformance, and won a great victory in our war . . . because apostolicity, here, is dead.” And the Prince exhaled a new death for Hezeki’ah the New’s spiritual descendants.

My children, sleep well and say your prayers.

Archpriest Nectarios Trevino

Originally published 10/19/2019