Dribble From The Pen: Play The Man

II Chron. 23:7

“The Levites will surround the king, each man with his weapons in his hand; and whoever enters the house, let him be killed. Thus, be with the king when he comes in and when he goes out.”

By Reverend Ray Drunkenmiller

“True holiness … is much more than tears, and sighs, and bodily excitement, and a quickened pulse, and a passionate feeling of attachment to our own favorite preachers and our own religious party, and a readiness to quarrel with everyone who does not agree with us.… A holy violence, a conflict, a warfare, a fight, a soldier’s life, a wrestling, are spoken of as characteristic of the true Christian.1”

In a world where everyone has an opinion on everything, there is one opinion that rarely rises up in our consideration of the Christian life. It is the view of the Christian life as a violent engagement of those things that despise and oppose the truths and principles of the Biblical worldview. In other times of church history, the existence of saints who felt compelled to stand in the place of resistance to those in opposition to the Christian faith was a much greater reality than we experience in the current cultural environment. Most within the community of contemporary Christianity have only a faded knowledge of the stories of men that paid with their lives for the mere right to preach the Gospel.

It is puzzling to the modern American church goer’s mind to imagine being paraded down the middle of hometown USA in shackles, for the sake of public humiliation, let alone, being chained to a post and set afire. But hear the words of encouragement spoken by Hugh Latimer to his brother in Christ and companion in flames, Nicholas Ridley, as they were being burned at the stake on Broad Street, Oxford, England. Latimer turned to Ridley, seeing him agonizing from the slow torture of the flame and urged; “Be of good comfort Master Ridley, and play the man! We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”(Fox’s Book of Martyrs)

In our text cited above we see Jehoiada the priest instructing the Levites to come to the aid of the young king, Joash. The situation in Judah had become grave under the leadership of the wicked queen, Athaliah. She had reigned for six years in Judah as a ruthless reflection of the character and personality of her mother, Jezebel. She had introduced Baal worship into the country and killed anyone associated with the lineage of David. Jehoiada’s leadership summoned the Levites to make a stand for the rightful heir to the throne of David and thus by association, commitment to the truth and Lordship of God. What Jehoiada was calling them to was to stand in the face of a heartless tyrant and defend more than a monarch, but a principle for life that was in harmony with God. In his instructions to the Levites he gives them three directives that reflect the nature of responsibility in fighting the good fight of faith.

He begins by instructing them to surround the king. This was the critical first step because it essentially meant – identifying with the king. When we identify with one item, person or thing it inescapably makes a statement in opposition to the antithesis. For these Levites it was a statement against the authority and reign of Athaliah. On the contemporary level, much of Christianity has abandoned this principle in favor of pseudo-principle of co-regency. By this I mean that in the mind of modern Christianity is the idea that we can keep Athaliah and have Joash also. But this is antithetical and more, it is not playing the man. Second, Jehoiada charges the Levites (the religious sector) to weld their sword and kill any associated with the opposition. This further would have alienated them and reflected an aggressive resistance to the pseudo-authority. Paul exhorts the young Timothy; “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (I Tim. 6:12) Third, Jehoiada commands the Levites to devotion on a perpetual basis. Here there is no room for complacency or apathy, the common expression of devotion that we see in the professing “Christian contingency” today. There was no room for a feeling based devotion. It was a sold out “play the man” commitment. So, the question begged is; where do we stand, with the King or, no?

Dribble from the pen

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