20 And thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the LORD his God.
21 And in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his God, he did it with all his heart, and prospered.
II Chronicles 32: 1-8 (English Standard Version)
Sennacherib Invades Judah
32 After these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself. 2 And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and intended to fight against Jerusalem, 3 he planned with his officers and his mighty men to stop the water of the springs that were outside the city; and they helped him. 4 A great many people were gathered, and they stopped all the springs and jthe brook that flowed through the land, saying, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?” 5 He set to work resolutely and built up kall the wall that was broken down and raised towers upon it,1 and outside it he built another wall, and he strengthened the lMillo in the city of David. He also made weapons and shields in abundance. 6 And he set combat commanders over the people and gathered them together to him in the square at the gate of the city and spoke mencouragingly to them, saying, 7 n“Be strong and courageous. oDo not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, pfor there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is qan arm of flesh, rbut with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
In this text, a righteous King named Hezekiah has led the people of Judah in tearing down the “high places,” those places that were temples of idol worship. The priests and the Levites have reclaimed the temples for the Lord. The people gave a tithe of all that they possessed. Because of their dedication to the work of the Lord and the rebuilding of His temple, the Lord made them to prosper greatly. They were faithful…they tore down that which was evil and dedicated themselves to rebuilding that which was right, holy and good.
The Chronicler, however, begins chapter 32 with an interesting statement. He declares,
iAfter these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself.
“Faithfulness and Yet the Battle…”
There is something within the human psyche that tells us that if we do this, then we will have that. If we eat the right foods and take good care of ourselves then we won’t get sick. If we love, care for and nurture someone, then we will get love, caring and nurture in return. If we are faithful, doing what is just right and good, then we won’t have to face any turmoil or trouble.
I did not say that that is reality. I said that somehow, in our human psyche, we believe or we feel that if we do these things, we will have certain results. We realize, however, that that is not always the case! Many have eaten right, exercised, drank plenty of water and still got sick. Many have loved, cared for and nurtured somebody and they were still mistreated and or disrespected by those same individuals. Many have been faithful and made a practice of doing what is right and good and still were confronted with turmoil and trouble.
I imagine King Hezekiah and the people of Judah were just as confused and befuddled by the ensuing attacks of the enemy as we are when things don’t go quite as we’d planned or thought – especially when we called ourselves doing what was/is right!
You’ve been faithful and yet…sickness still comes, you’ve been faithful and yet the child or the sibling or co-worker or spouse still acts like a fool…you’ve been faithful and yet satan’s attacks seem stronger than ever! We find ourselves asking, “What’s going on?”
The answer to what’s going on comes in the next line after verse 1:
Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself.
The enemy sees the fruitfulness of your proverbial land…he sees your gifts, he sees your talents, he sees your power…even when you don’t see it for yourself. He sees what you have and desires to own it for himself. His job is to “steal, kill and destroy.” Isn’t it interesting that the enemy didn’t want it when it was overrun with idol worship, lewd and crude behaviors? Now that it is clean, now that it has been beautified, now that it is filled with the glow and glory of the Lord, the enemy wants it!
I am reminded of when I worked as a chaplain at a local hospital. All of the chaplains were given small box shaped offices. They were all of same size and configuration. But in my office, I chose to set it up a little differently. I requested a used couch from the basement. I went and bought some inexpensive pictures and hung them up on the wall. I added a few of my own little nick nacks from home and even brought in a small stereo system to play soothing music.
When I sat in my office, I would leave the door open so that if someone needed an encouraging word, prayer, etc., they would see that I was available. Interestingly, people would come by and say, “What a nice office!” I was just drawn to come in! When the time came for me to leave my hospital position as a chaplain, something strange happened. Other employees were literally arguing over who would take over my office space! It was no different than the other spaces. But they believed something was extra special about this space. They didn’t realize that it wasn’t the space. It wasn’t even me. It was the glow of God’s glory and the special anointing he had placed upon that space, using some creativity, warmth and love that made it so special.
They didn’t realize that once all of those things were packed up and gone, it would revert back to small office shaped like a box! The enemy looks at you and desires what you have, even who you are, not realizing that he can never possess what you have because we belong to the Lord and it is the Lord that makes gives us the gifts!
If you go back and read the rest of this chapter, you will see the tactics that the enemy tried to use to get God’s people to “cut and run,” surrendering what God had for them. He tried to intimidate them and even began speaking their language in order to get them to listen!
“Don’t allow yourself to believe what the King Hezekiah is saying…no one can save you from my attacks. Your god cannot save you from my attacks!” He began to speak their language and use things that were familiar to them, against them. Sometimes the enemy will take your own fears, your own words, your own thoughts and turn them against you. In the book, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cure, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones asserts that we spend too much time allowing our minds to talk to us, verses talking to our minds.
In other words, we allow inner doubts, fears, voices from the past, comparisons, criticisms, etc., govern how we think and feel, rather than stopping those thoughts and images in their tracks, slamming the door in their face and speaking God’s Word and promises over our lives. We must practice the spiritual tactic of “pulling down strongholds” in our minds.
II Corinthians 10:3-5 declares,
3For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,When we are under attack we must claim the promises of God over our lives and stand upon God’s holy Word. That is what King Hezekiah did as the King of Assyria tried to threaten, intimidate and destroy the confidence of the people of God. Listen to what Hezekiah said,
7 n“Be strong and courageous. oDo not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, pfor there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is qan arm of flesh, rbut with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.The real test of faithfulness does not come when all is going well. Although we may think that because of our faithfulness, we shouldn’t have to face trials and tribulations. But that is not so. Jesus said, in this world we will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, Jesus has overcome the world. The real test of faithfulness comes when the odds are against you, when the wind is not at your back, but in your face, when trials come, when sickness comes, when financial difficulties come, when family and friends forsake you, when it looks like there is no way out – that is when the test of faithfulness is at hand.
Anyone can praise and shout when times are good. But can you dance before the Lord when all hell is breaking loose in your life? Can you like David, “bless the Lord at all times?” Can you remind yourself that “greater is he that is within me than he that is in the world!” Can you say like the psalmist, “the Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear, the Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”
As children of the most high God, we must remember that faithfulness does not exclude us from the battle. The enemy sees you…he sees what you have, he sees your potential, he sees your anointing and your blessing and he wants them. He wants to steal, kill and destroy – that is his mission. But like Hezekiah told the people of Judah,
7 n“Be strong and courageous. oDo not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, pfor there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is qan arm of flesh, rbut with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.”Even when we are faithful, we will face battles, but remember, “with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.”
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Until next Wednesday,
In Faith, Hope and Perseverance,