Thursday, November 8, 2012

2 KINGS 18-19 TRUSTING GOD AS FIRST RESPONSE, NOT LAST RESORT

2 Kings 18:5-7 He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered.
2 Kings 19:32-37 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place

Hezekiah trusted in the Lord God of Israel. But when confronted by an overwhelmingly superior enemy Assyria, he tried to appease Sennacherib with gold and silver from his palace and the temple. But Sennacherib was not satisfied with that and sent emissaries to Jerusalem to threaten Hezekiah and the people in the city, mocking their trust in the God of Israel: "Thus says the king (Sennacherib): ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria’" (2 Kings 18:29). This was Sennacherib's fatal mistake: by challenging the Lord of all creation, he found himself like an ant under the elephant. God's reply through the prophet Isaiah was this: "Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.’” And so it happened as Isaiah prophesied. That night, an angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 in the Assyrian camp. When Sennarcherib went back home to Nineveh, he was murdered by his own sons.

What lessons can we learn from this story? Hezekiah's first response to Sennacherib's threat was to appease him with gold and silver. That didn't work. It was only as a last resort that he sought Isaiah's advice and received the assuring words: "Do not be afraid.” Instead of focusing on the problem that looks so big and impossible to overcome, our first response should be to look up to the Lord to whom this "big" problem is like ants among elephants. We do not pray to God just for peace of mind so we can work out the solution ourselves. No, we pray because prayer allows God into our situation to defeat the problem on our behalf. We don't need to solve the problem with our puny wisdom and resources, but with God's unlimited power.

We need to recognize that our God never forces His solution upon us. If we think we can solve a problem using our own wisdom and resources, He will let us do it--even if that means disastrous consequences for ourselves. God respects our free will. But wise is the person who, when faced with any challenge, will immediately invite the Lord to step into the situation and take charge. When evil consequences befall us, don't say, "Why God?" Rather say, "Why didn't I ask God?"

Jesus says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

Father, I thank You that nothing is too hard for You. Help us trust in You always as our first response, not our last resort. Amen.

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