Sunday, October 2, 2016

Comfort My People: The Prophecies Of Isaiah, Day 96

Comfort My People:
The Prophecies Of Isaiah
Day 96

This morning we continue on with the threats King Sennacherib of Assyria is making against Jerusalem. We previously looked at this occurrence in our study of the kings, but Isaiah felt it was important we look at it again, and I think we can learn something new every time we open the word of God. The attitude of Sennacherib's field commander is the same attitude of our enemy the devil. The Bible has instructed us not to be ignorant of Satan's devices (2 Corinthians 2:11) and it could be some of us really need this passage today. Satan's main weapon against us is discouragement, just as it is the field commander's main weapon. The field commander wants to take Jerusalem without a fight, just as the enemy of our souls wants us to give up without a fight. But with God on our side, we don't have to surrender! With God fighting for us, what enemy can stand against us?

The field commander of Sennacherib is outside the gates speaking with three of King Hezekiah's top officials. He is mocking them, their God, and their king. "Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses---if you can put riders on them! How then can you repulse one officer of the least of my master's officials, even though you are depending on Egypt for chariots and horsemen? Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this land without the Lord? The Lord Himself told me to march against this country and destroy it." (Isaiah 36:8-10) 

What a demoralizing and blasphemous speech! First, he puts down the soldiers of Jerusalem, insinuating that even if he willingly gave them two thousand horses, they wouldn't have enough men to sit on them. I don't know how many people are cowering inside the fortified walls of Jerusalem at this time, or whether or not there are two thousand able-bodied men in the city, but this statement is intended to bring home the futility of taking a stand. The field commander is saying, "Even if two thousand of your best soldiers rode out against me right now, with swords raised, my men and I could easily cut them down. Then what are you going to do? Who will protect you? Who will hold the city against my forces? We would sweep in like a flood."

Second, he points out what has already become apparent to the king and top officials at Jerusalem: Egypt is not coming to the rescue. The Egyptian army had already been defeated in the one campaign they launched to try to make good on their promise to defend their allies. After that, they went slinking back into Egypt to lick their wounds and they stayed there. The citizens may still have been holding out hope that Egypt would suddenly swoop in at the eleventh hour and beat back the Assyrians, but the field commander wants to bring upon them a spirit of defeat by cruelly announcing that Pharaoh has been a disappointment to everyone who has trusted in him.

Third, the field commander suspects the thinking of the people might be, "Okay, we really don't have enough soldiers to fight this army. And it truly doesn't look like Egypt is coming. But maybe God will fight for us. Maybe a miracle will happen." He hastens to cut right to the heart of their faith by speaking an awful lie against the living God. He wants them to believe something like this, "The God you are trusting in is angry with you. He is through with you. Who do you think sent me here? God has taken His protective hand off you and wants you destroyed." 

One by one, this man is pulling every rug out from under their feet, and his words are like the words of Satan himself. Satan will point out that the obstacle is too big for us. He will tell us we can't trust any of our friends to help us in our time of need. Then, when he sees how downcast this has made us, he delivers the final kick, "God isn't coming to help you either. God has allowed this to happen because He's mad at you. He's given me permission to torment you. He's done with you." Like the words of Sennacherib's field commander, there is some truth mixed in with the words of Satan. Many obstacles in this life are too big for us. Sometimes our friends let us down, not always on purpose, but because the obstacles of this life are too big for them as well. But that third taunt? The one that says God is through with us? That's the biggest lie of all time! Even if our troubles are of our own making, and even if we have drifted from the Lord, He will not turn away the humble and repentant heart. We can return to Him because, as King David said, "A broken and contrite heart You, O God, will not despise." (Psalm 51:17b) We've learned from the book of Isaiah and the study of the kings that Hezekiah, though a very devout man, had a crisis of faith when he saw the power of Assyria and its new king. He tried everything and everyone before he called on the Lord for help. He messed up, just like we all do now and then. But when he realizes his mistake, He will go up to the temple with a broken and contrite heart, appealing to God for help not because he himself has done right, but because God is merciful. 

I don't know what you might be facing today. Maybe you're going through a time of discouragement. Maybe you're feeling worried and fearful. Those feelings are not from the Lord, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) If you are a child of God, this is what He says to you, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) Our Father in heaven promises us, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10) The Lord Jesus Christ urges us to stand in faith, knowing how deeply we are loved, and not to fear the future, "Do not worry about tomorrow." (Matthew 6:34) 

Because our Redeemer lives, we can face tomorrow. He is already there ahead of us and nothing takes Him by surprise. Let's block our ears to the lies of the enemy and speak the truth to ourselves, "God is with me. God is for me. He will strengthen and help me. I will not be discouraged because God loves me and will take care of me."

Our worship song link for today is below.

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