Pastor’s Desk December 16th

Scripture Passage:  “And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.”   II Kings 19:14
Dear Friends, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”  Abraham Lincoln
   There are times in everyone’s life that circumstances and situations force us to make decisions we feel ill equipped to make.  Hezekiah was a young twenty-five year old ruler that had been made King of Israel.  He did not come from a godly family and neither did he have role models to pattern his reign after.  Hezekiah had a good heart and he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did.  He removed the high places, broke the graven images, and cut down the groves that had been erected to worship idols.  He also broke into the pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made.  II Kings 18:4   Just imagine how old this brazen serpent had to be.  Generations had passed and this serpent had been kept for a memorial to remember God’s mighty hand of deliverance.  Over the course of time, the memorial turned into an idol they worshiped.  They even gave it a name – Nehushtan.  Hezekiah saw that anything can be turned into an idol when people forget God. So rather than allow this priceless memento to cause the people to sin against God, he destroyed it.  We also find that Hezekiah trusted the Lord God of Israel and clave unto Him.  That word clave is very interesting.  It means he held on to Him for dear life.  The Lord was the one constant he had in all the ever changing circumstances.  He departed not from following the Lord and failed not to keep the Lord’s commandments.  Because of this, the Lord was with him and prospered him wherever he went. Hezekiah’s trust in the Lord led him to rebel against the king of Assyrian and he smote the Philistines all the way to the Gaza strip.  When God’s people decide to clean house and put it in order, the devil is not going to sit idly by and watch.  He is going to attack full force in a way that is overwhelming.  He likes to use scenarios that present impossible positive outcomes.  He likes to say there is no way out and you might as well surrender.  The thing he knows is that God deals in impossible situations and nothing is too hard for Him to do.  With all the good Hezekiah had done, it now looked like the end had come.  He could either surrender to Sennacherib or to God.  Hezekiah chose to surrender to God and lay out the entire situation before Him.
     Sennacherib chose to remain behind the scenes and to speak through his representative, Rabshakeh.  Rabshakeh’s tactic was to undermine the authority of Hezekiah by causing the people to doubt his decisions and his unwavering decision to follow God and His directives.  The challenge was for the people to compare what Sennacherib had accomplished in becoming a world power with what Hezekiah had accomplished as a follower of God.  One was seen, the other was unseen.  Assyria taunted Judah and the God they served. Rabshakeh taunted Hezekiah as an unfit ruler.  Assyria threatened that if Judah did not pay tribute they would be destroyed.  If they would simply submit to the authority of Sennacherib they would eat the good of the land.  If they refused, they would experience the wrath of the mighty Assyrian army.  The final insult was when they compared Jehovah God with all the other Gods of the surrounding countries.  If they could not deliver their subjects, what made Jerusalem believe their God would deliver them.  Hezekiah had counseled his people to hold their peace and not answer Rabshakeh.  The threat was real and had to be dealt with.  They could give in and compromise by making peace with Sennacherib, or they could petition the heavenly throne room and trust God for deliverance.  Hezekiah and his cabinet members chose to rend their clothes and put on sackcloth.  This was a sign of repentance and submission unto God.
     When Hezekiah lay the letter out on the altar before the Lord, his prayer lost all formality and took on the form of a desperate plea.  Hezekiah recognized the sovereign authority of the Lord God of Israel.  “You are God, and you alone.”  He asked the Lord to hear his prayer and to see the predicament he and the nation were in. He recognized the inability of other Gods to deliver their respective people and his own belief that his God would be able to deliver Israel from the threat before them.  His reason for asking was,  “So that the kingdoms of the earth might know that You are God, even you only.”  The result was God heard and answered his prayer.  “He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.  By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord.  For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.”    II Kings 19: 32-34   That night an angel of the Lord visited the camp of the Assyrians and smote 185,000 soldiers in their sleep.  The unseen God of Israel showed Himself mighty on behalf of those who put their faith in Him.  Faith still moves mountains today.
In Christ,
Pastor Johnny