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Azariah’s Compromise

compromise.jpg“Save that the high places were not removed.” 2 Kings 15:4

Multitudes of seductive messages, promises, criticisms and rhetoric jam today’s airwaves and printed pages. Around rich, mahogany tables, corporate high rollers, contract negotiators, political candidates, prosecutors and defense attorneys match words and wits. It’s the compromise business. When it’s time to deal, people usually hammer out a compromise. “Give me what I want and I’ll give you what you want.” Both sides get something, but both sides lose something as well.

Compromises wiggle and worm their way out of dilemmas like, “Should I pay now or pay later? Will the mess be my back yard or yours? Should I go for peace now and worry about the problems tomorrow?” Spiritually, many people engage in similar struggles. “How can I have everything both ways? How can I please God and please the flesh too? How can I do enough right things to make up for the wrong things I want to do?”

King Azariah’s impressive list of achievements opened up a fabulous opportunity to lead Judah into revival. “He made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal. And his name spread far abroad; for he was marvellously helped, till he was strong. But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the LORD his God, and went into the temple of the LORD to burn incense upon the altar of incense.” 2 Chronicles 26:15-16. Instead of reviving Israel, this misguided king left the high places, shrines dedicated to the worship of pagan gods, intact. Why? Because large segments of the population worshipped there. It was risky business to destroy their holy places because such action could have fomented rebellion. Azariah considered himself cunning enough to please everybody. He forged compromises between the warring factions of his culture; he thought he could have it all.

The watchwords of today’s popular wisdom remind me of Azariah’s compromise: multiculturalism; choice; cultural blend; mutual respect; tolerance; diversity. These words do not originate out of the Bible. They represent a far cry from the “Thou shalt nots” of scripture. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.” Exodus 20:3-5. Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters…”

You cannot compromise truth. Truth is absolute. If truth could be compromised, it would not be truth. No one can believe opposing doctrines at the same time. God demands more than politeness, respect or even loving affection toward truth. He wants singular devotion to it.

You cannot compromise principle. Painted up, rationalized out or covered over, wrong never morphs into righteousness. Anyone who protects the high places of sin in his life forfeits his relationship with God. “Be sure your sin will find you out.”

You cannot compromise love. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” 1 John 2:15-17.

What happened to Azariah? “And the LORD smote the king, so that he was a leper unto the day of his death, and dwelt in a several house. And Jotham the king’s son was over the house, judging the people of the land.” 2 Kings 15:5. Compromise yields leprosy, not liberty. Little good has been done when one angers God in the process of making himself happy.

Azariah was known by another name: Uzziah. This ingenious king, war hero and popular leader died a leper. His name will forever represent compromise. A contemporary prophet, Isaiah, was overtaken with admiration of this king. But Uzziah’s death did not lead Isaiah to devastation and ruin. The opposite happened. “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory”. Isaiah 6:1-6.

You may think you need to compromise with the world, the flesh and the devil to make things work in your life. Actually, compromise keeps you from seeing the full glory of God. Instead, value your integrity. Make a commitment of singular devotion to God. It will set you free.

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