Note: I want to preface this by saying that I am not a Bible scholar. If I make mistakes about my history or anything, either disregard it :) or make a note in the comments if it affects any theology or anything. Thanks!
This morning I opened my Bible to my bookmark. I woke up really wanting to read God's Word this morning. I have made it a habit to read it every morning, but I confess I haven't been very faithful about it this last week, or very enthusiastic. So today, when I woke up thinking about it, I was glad. I have felt spiritually dry and strained for awhile. Anyway, I have been reading through the Old Testament, and I am on 2 Chronicles Chapter 32. It was a very good chapter for me to read this morning, and I wanted to share it with you.
A little background: Judah goes between good kings and bad kings. I don't know how God had so much patience with them for so long. At this point, though, there is a good king: Hezekiah. He has thrown out the idols, re-established the Passover, rebuilt the temple and re-instated the workers at the temple (the Levites and priests). As the Bible says, "He did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. In everything he undertook in the service of God's temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly." (31:20-21)
Well, Chapter 32 starts out with a threat to the newly revived kingdom. Sennacherib king of Assyria invades Judah and lays "siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself." I don't know much about history, but I'm pretty sure the Assyrians were a scary bunch. However, Hezekiah takes charge and readies the city for war--blocking the springs, repairing broken sections of the wall, building towers, etc. He assembles all the people who are about to go to battle and says, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles." And with that the people were strengthened.
Sennacherib, however, also realizes that the battle is really within the mind and spirit more than in the strength of one's army. He sends a message to the Israelites saying, "On what are you basing your confidence, that you remain in Jerusalem under siege? When Hezekiah says, 'the Lord our God will save us from the hand of the king of Assyria,' he is misleading you, to let you die of hunger and thirst. [...] Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the people of the other lands? Were the gods of those nations ever able to deliver their land from my hand? Who of all the gods of these nations that my fathers destroyed has been able to save his people from me? How then can your god deliver you from my hand? Now do not let Hezekiah deceive you and mislead you like this. Do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kindom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my fathers. How much less will your god deliver you from my hand!"
The king of Assyria continues to yell out insults on the God of Israel and speak of Him as though he were the work of men's hands. It does not say if this tactic worked, but I think it did, because of Hezekiah's response in the next verse, which I will write in a minute. Hezekiah's people are hearing all this slander about their God. At that point in history, I don't think the Israelites understood that there was only one God. I think they understood that Jehovah was THEIR only God, and that they could worship no other, and that Jehovah was more powerful than other people's gods, but that other people did have their own gods. So the fact that Assyria defeated the other people despite the help of their gods would have been a scary thought.
But here's my favorite part:
"King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz crid out in prayer to heaven about this. (Which is why I think that all the talk was affecting the people.) And the Lord sent an angel, who annihalated all the fighting men and the leaders and officers in the camp of the Assyrian king."
WOOHOO!! YES!!! We win again! And it had nothing to do with us!! Verse 22 says," So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them on every side."
I know this is a long entry getting longer, and you can probably figure out the application for yourself, but get this: God handles our problems, not us. And Satan understands that the battle isn't in the strength of our arms to hold a sword, but in the strength of our hearts to battle discouragement.
We talked about a similar story in Ezekiel on Sunday, Ezekiel 38. Verses 18-23 explain how God will destroy the threat to His people, and without any help from them.
Are you discouraged? I know I am. I don't know what else to do, where else to turn. I feel stuck and powerless. But you know what? It's not my battle. Just like Hezekiah, I need to do what is good and right and faithful before the Lord. In everything I undertake, I need to seek God and work wholeheartedly. And beyond that, it's all God. When I get discouraged, I need to pray to God about the lies Satan is whispering to me. And then trust that God will deliver me.
God will take care of me on every side.
WOOHOO!! That's exciting!
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