When the King Died
Dr. Frederick A. Tatford resides in East Sussex, England. Retired from business, he is a well-known lecturer and conference speaker, Editor of the Prophetic Witness magazine, and author of over sixty books. We sincerely appreciate his brief article, expressive of the author’s unwavering confidence in the Lord midst life’s sorrows and testings. Don’t miss its great message!
“In the year that king Uzziah died, I saw the Lord,” said Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1). Why should the vision have been given at that particular moment?
Uzziah had reigned for 52 years and, according to the chronicler, “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord,” prospering in his warfare with Judah’s traditional foes, protecting his people with new fortifications, providing wells for their cattle and crops, and was a general benefactor to Judah until he committed the crowning folly of usurping the priest’s function (2 Chronicles 26:1-21). Despite his crass foolishness, however, in the eyes of his people he had been a great king, who had consolidated the kingdom and strengthened it against their enemies.
But now he was dead and, although his son Jotham occupied the throne, it is probable that the sense of fear and insecurity had temporarily returned to the people. The king was dead. Could his son ever replace him?
It was at that time of doubt and uncertainty that Isaiah saw the Lord “high and lifted up.” The king was dead, but the Supreme Ruler was still on the throne.
What a devastating shock it is when treasured links are suddenly snapped and one upon whom we have so long depended is suddenly taken. Everything is shattered and the bottom drops out of the tiny microcosm of our life. Nothing can ever be the same again. A parent has gone, a beloved partner has been called home, a close friend has been lost, or a lifelong guide has been taken, and a stricken heart is breaking. Nothing can replace the one of whom we have been so sharply bereaved. The loss is irreparable.
Yet in the hour of deepest distress, there comes the reassuring vision, “I saw also the Lord.” It is just at that moment, in all the harsh mutability of life, that we discover afresh that the throne is still filled by the unchanging Lord. Against the crumbling instability of earth is set the unalterable stability of the Eternal.
In the light of the glory of the throne, even the bitter loss can be transmuted into a treasure. Eric Gurr tells the story of a woman, due to speak to a young people’s meeting, who suddenly collapsed in her husband’s arms. She expired in a few minutes, but before she did so she asked him to take her place and to bid the young people to “come now.” Despite his grief he went to the meeting. He explained that his wife was unable to keep her appointment, because she had been summoned to another — with the Saviour. He repeated the message, “Come now” and, from every part of the hall, they came!
The Bible declares that there arose not a prophet in Israel like Moses and when he died the people wept for thirty days (Deuteronomy 34:7-10). But then the command came to Joshua, “Moses my servant is dead…arise, go” (Joshua 1:2). Death was not the end; it was a challenge to go on.