By Mrs. E. G. White
I cut from an exchange the following paragraphs. They convey an important lesson, and one well worthy of our consideration:
A lady had just parted with some friends who had been her guests for a few days. With a feeling of loneliness she sat down in her deserted drawing-room. Her eyes fell on a Bible, and opening it, she read the words, “What have they seen in thine house?” “Strange words,” she thought. “What do they mean?” Glancing through the preceding chapter, she learned how graciously the Lord had delivered Hezekiah from the dangers of battle and then from sickness. She read how ambassadors came with presents from the king of Babylon, and how Hezekiah entertained them. What did he show them?—“Not the Lord's doings,” said the lady, with a rising feeling of self-reproach. “Surely,” she thought, “the Lord must have sent these words to me. Two years ago the Lord delivered me in my terrible conflict with unbelief, and brought me into the liberty and joy of a child of God.
“Last summer, when I lay in my darkened chamber, sick unto death, I earnestly entreated God to give me back my health, that I might tell my friends of Christ's love and righteousness, and of the wonderful riches of His grace.
“Mrs. R. and her daughter have been my guests, and now the Lord asks me, ‘What have they seen in thine house?’ What can I answer? After dinner yesterday I showed them all our water-color drawings; then I took Mrs. R. to my boudoir to see my new carpet. I do not remember what they saw on Wednesday, except that I showed Mrs. R. the beautiful set of jewels that my uncle gave me. We spent Wednesday afternoon considering what our children should wear next spring. What a precious opportunity I have lost of speaking to her of the spotless robe of Christ's righteousness. And Marian has gone home longing to have a bracelet like the one she saw on my child. Had I been faithful, she would have left me to speak of Jesus and His glory.
“What have they seen in my house? Alas! vanity, idleness, worldly treasure! And what have they heard? True, they heard family reading and prayer. But it must have seemed a mere form. They must have thought that we had far more delight in the worldly songs that were sung, and in the gay conversation, which the form of family worship hardly interrupted. They left me, having seen nothing better than the visitors from Babylon saw in the house of Hezekiah.”
Reader, is not this a word to your soul? Look around you, and see how many things you have gathered that war against the soul. Review your social intercourse, your entertainment of guests, and then to God answer the question, “What have they seen in thine house?”
I hope that these paragraphs which I have quoted will impress the minds of those who read them as forcibly as they did mine. We are living amid the closing scenes of this earth's history. It is a time when we should draw very near to God. How is our time occupied? What are we doing to lead those with whom we associate to seek earnestly for higher, holier attainments? The Lord has given us the assurance that we may be laborers together with Him in the work of soul-saving. He desires us to be ever on the watch for opportunities to point souls to Christ, saying, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
What have your friends and acquaintances seen in your house? Are you, instead of revealing the treasures of the grace of Christ, displaying those things that will perish with the using? Or do you, to those with whom you are brought in contact, communicate some new thought of Christ's character and work? Have you always some fresh revelation of His pitying love to impart to those who know Him not?
Study the case of Hezekiah. He had been sick unto death. He had appealed to the Lord, and God had added to his life fifteen years. “At that time Merodach-baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah; for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered. And Hezekiah was glad of them, and showed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armor, and all that was found in his treasures; there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not. Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon. Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen; there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them. Then said Isaiah unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, saith the Lord.”
The visit of the ambassadors to Hezekiah was a test of his gratitude and devotion. The record says, “Howbeit, in all the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.” God had raised him from a bed of death, giving him a new lease of life. The Babylonians had heard of his wonderful recovery. They marveled that the sun had been turned back ten degrees, as a sign that the word of the Lord should be fulfilled. They sent messengers to Hezekiah to congratulate him on his recovery. The visit of these messengers gave him an opportunity to extol the God of heaven. How easy it would have been to point them to the God of gods. But pride and vanity took possession of Hezekiah's heart, and in his self-exaltation he laid open to covetous eyes the treasures with which God had enriched His people. Not to glorify God did he do this, but to exalt himself in the eyes of the foreign princes. He did not stop to think that these men had not the fear or the love of God in their hearts, and that therefore they were not safe confidants. His indiscretion prepared the way for national disaster. The ambassadors carried to Babylon the report of Hezekiah's riches, and the king and his counsellors planned to enrich Babylon with the treasures of Jerusalem.
Had Hezekiah improved the opportunity given him to bear witness to the power, the goodness, the compassion, of the God of Israel, the report of the ambassadors would have been as light piercing darkness. But he magnified himself above the Lord of hosts, and failed to give God the glory. He “rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up; therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.”
O that those for whom God has done marvelous things would show forth His praises, and tell of His mighty works. But how often those for whom God works are like Hezekiah,—forgetful of the Giver of all their blessings.