Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Isaiah 36-37: Vengeance Belongs to God

Isa 37:5-8 When King Hezekiah's officials came to Isaiah, Isaiah said to them, "Tell your master, 'This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard — those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Listen! I am going to put a spirit in him so that when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.'" When the field commander heard that the king of Assyria had left Lachish, he withdrew and found the king fighting against Libnah. 

Isa 37:30-38 "This will be the sign for you, O Hezekiah: This year you will eat what grows by itself, and the second year what springs from that. But in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit. Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria: "He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here.He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city," declares the Lord. "I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!" Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning — there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there. One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer cut him down with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king. 

The field commander sent by Sennacherib king of Assyria made a fatal mistake when he challenged the God of Israel: "Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?" (Isa 36:20). The result of this frontal attack on the Creator-God was devastating judgment on Assyria: "Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp" (37:36). In one night, 180,000 men died without Judah needing to lift a finger. Furthermore, King Sennacherib was later assasinated by his own sons while he was worshipping in the temple of his god Nisroch (37:38).

The Lord has said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay" (Rom. 12:9). Hebrews 10:30 goes further to warn us that in this age of grace, the judgment will be even more severe if we reject God's offer of salvation: "Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Heb 10:28-31, ESV).

For grace to take place, God has to sacrifice His only Son. If there is no shed blood, we can claim we couldn't help being what we are -- sinners under bondage to the devil. But now that grace is available and the Blood of Jesus has been shed, there is no more excuse for sin--only terrible and fearful judgment against those who reject his offer of salvation. God's salvation was paid for with a terrible price and is now offered freely. But if we choose to ignore it, it's like the field commander of Sennacherib who mocked the salvation of the Lord.

Father, what amazing grace You have shown us through the shed blood of Your Son. May we always be grateful for that tremendous sacrifice You have made to secure our salvation. Amen.

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