A daily devotional walking through God's word together using The Bible Reading Plan at http://www.bible-reading.com/bible-plan.html. Our website http://alittlewalkwithgod.com.
Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 16; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 106 through 112
We are back to the study of The Story, God’s plan to restore us to a face-to-face relationship with Him as He had with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. He wants desperately to have that kind of intimate relationship with each of us. And He would and did die that He might have it. But relationships are always a two way street. God wants it, but we must want it too. We have a choice and The Story, His word, the Bible shows us His plan to guide us back to Him if we choose to do so.
This week’s readings tell us the story of Hezekiah and the Assyrian army’s plan to conquer Judah. The taunts of Sennacherib's field commander remind me of just how devious Satan can be with us. Remember some of the words he used?
“The gods of the nations we conquered didn’t save them, why do you think your God will save you?”
“Hezekiah tore down all the altars to your god and is making you worship him only in Jerusalem’s temple. Won’t your god be angry with Hezekiah for destroying his places of worship?”
“Surrender and live, we will give you homes, places to work, your sons and daughters can marry and have children in the new land we will take you to. Or you can stay here and starve to death.”
Hezekiah’s subjects heard all those words from the walls as they stood inside Jerusalem and the Assyrian army stood just outside the gates. I expect many of them more than toyed with the idea of passing the guards on the gates and doing exactly what the field commander asked. I expect many of their growling bellies made them long for those gardens promised by their enemy.
Satan works much the same way with us as Sennacherib did in his taunting of those hidden behind the walls of Jerusalem. He tells us half truths and twists the circumstances to make us think he has power to make things happen. He twists phrases to make his lies sound like truth but when you really examine his words, they are empty promises that don’t hold up to reality.
For instance, Satan told Adam and Eve they wouldn’t die if they ate the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. Partly tree, but only a half truth. They didn’t die physically right away, but we don’t know if they were eternal when created. We know they lived almost a thousand years before they died and death was one of the curses placed on them. We also know they died spiritually immediately. They lost their spiritual innocence as soon as they ate of the forbidden fruit as they disobeyed God’s command.
We hear half truths all the time and Satan tries his best to lure us into the way the world thinks and acts and tells us it’s okey. He wants us to absorb the world’s philosophy. He wants us to accept his moral values. He wants us to think God’s ways are too restrictive and arcane. He wants us, like those behind Jerusalem’s walls to long for the promises he makes to us instead of what God has to offer.
But Hezekiah, his prophets and priests, and the strength of his guard force kept the people loyal to him and to God. They stayed in the city and prayed to the God of the universe. The only one at this point who could possibly do anything about the tragedy that was about to befall them. They had no hope except in God. Surrender to this army really wasn’t an option anymore.
Sure they heard the rhetoric, but they also knew the stories about the brutality of this army and these were the last holdouts that kept these warriors from returning home to their wives and children. These were the last of the rebellious nations that caused them to risk their lives and suffer the harsh environment of a soldier’s life. These people would receive no mercy whether defeated or if they surrendered. The rest of the world would understand the power of Assyria and the consequences of rebellion against her. Yes, only God could save Jerusalem.
The people prayed. God listened. A miracle happened. 185,000 Assyrian soldiers didn’t wake up one morning. We don’t know how they died. We don’t know if God sent some viral disease or something poisoned their food or God sent an angel to kill them. The Bible doesn’t tell us how God performed this miraculous act. We only know that Sennacherib's invincible army was decimated in a single night without a single arrow fired from the walls of Jerusalem or a single sword swung by a Judean soldier. 185,000 Assyrian soldiers just died. The rest slithered home...as fast as they could go.
Then God executed the rest of His plan against Sennacherib and his two sons assassinated him. Assyria soon feel to Babylonia and became a vassal nation to Assyria just as all the other nations of the world had been to her. Sin has its consequences. They will come back to bite you and there is not much you can do about reaping the harvest you sow.
Hezekiah is one of five kings of the thirty-nine who ruled Israel noted as being a good king. All the rest are described as in God’s word. I don’t think any of our presidents have been described as evil in our press, but God tell us 34 of His chosen people’s kings were evil. What an indictment against those who were supposed to be showing us how to have an intimate relationship with God.
But don’t point fingers too fast. The Israelites are still God’s chosen people. It is still the nation He will bless and use to point us to Him and sue to bring us back into a face-to-face relationship with Him. So says His Story, His plan to redeem us from our sins. We’re getting close to those events in His word. The ones that will change the course of history and give each of us the opportunity to live with Him forever.
For now, be careful who you listen to and how you react to those half truths the world yells out to you over the wall. Satan wants desperately to have you open the gates of your heart and mind to him. He wants desperately for you to let him in and let him take charge of your life. You have a choice as to how sits on the throne of your life. It will either be God or Satan. Jesus told us you cannot serve two masters. You must choose one or the other.
Who will it be? God or Satan? It really is your choice. Make sure it’s the right one. Today.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.