Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 29 November 2022:
2 Kings 18:5 — 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.
Hezekiah was different. Hezekiah stood alone in his uncompromised faith (at least for awhile). The Bible says that he was surrounded by people who claimed faith in God, but they did not “fear the Lord” enough to honor and serve Him faithfully. (2 Kings 17:34-41) They had a half faith which is really no faith at all, unacceptable before the Lord. Consequently, when crisis came, their false faith failed them, and they lived in subjugation. If you are truly walking with God, very few will be walking with you. If you find yourself in the crowd, you had better take pause. Are you willing to walk on the narrow path with Jesus in this world?
In today’s readings, Hezekiah’s faith is put to the ultimate test as the undefeated mighty king Sennacherib besieges Jerusalem. Consider the situation — Sennacherib has already defeated Israel and has taken possession of Samaria, and he has already defeated and taken all the fortified cities of Judah. Now Sennacherib has surrounded Jerusalem and is claiming that, in fact, he is acting on behalf of God and that he holds the power of life and death, blessings and curses. (Hezekiah 18:25) Is your faith strong enough to withstand today’s challenges, particularly from those who profess faith themselves?
2 Kings 18:6 — For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses.
Hezekiah did not hold lightly to God and His commands. Obedience is not easy in this world, nor has it ever been easy. Are you willing to cling to Jesus when everyone else is chasing after something else? Are you considered a fanatic in your faith by others?
2 Kings 18:12 — They neither listened nor obeyed.
First you have to commit to listening day-by-day (Bible study, prayer, receptiveness to the Holy Spirit); then you have to be willing to obey the Holy Spirit. Few really listen. Few faithfully obey. Are you among the few?
2 Kings 18:15 — And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house.
This is where Hezekiah begins to slip. The world (Assyria) demanded of Hezekiah what was God’s, and Hezekiah gave it to him in order to “keep the peace.” At this point, Hezekiah feared man more than he feared God. As usual, this compromise involved money. Look at the church in America today. We pay what we owe to the government and to creditors, but we don’t bring God the tithe, nor do we offer additional gifts and alms which God desires. The church will never be the influence it should be in the world as long as God’s people honor themselves and others with their resources before they honor God who actually owns it all.
2 Kings 18:20 — Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me?
Each day, everyone will make decisions on whether they trust their own intellect and might or God’s. Sennacherib was a powerful strategist who conquered everyone around him. It took great faith to believe the unseen God was more powerful than the very visible and powerful ruler Sennacherib who openly taunted the Israelites for their faith and apparent weakness. Do you trust God beyond the apparent realities of the visible world? Was it strategy that brought down the walls of Jericho or the power of God? What will you rely on to tear down the walls in your life?
2 Kings 18:22 — But if you say to me, We trust in the Lord our God, is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem?
Sennacherib uses a common tactic, used by Satan in the garden and used by the ungodly today to weaken the hearts of God’s people — he tried to make them question their own religion and their religious leaders. He suggested that Hezekiah’s faithful acts were really demonstrations of infidelity. He suggested that Hezekiah was merely using religion to control the people. Could you remain strong under such scrutiny? Today, many celebrate sin under the pretense of a greater understanding of religion or a higher revelation. Sennacherib did the same thing — “Moreover, is it without the Lord that I have come up against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’” Do you know the truth well enough to combat the lies?
2 Kings 18:25 — Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this place without word from the Lord? The Lord himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.
God’s enemies seek to undermine the resolve of God’s people by claiming obedience to God in their disobedience. They claim to know God’s will better than God’s people and point to their worldly successes as proof.
Thus says the king: ‘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.’ Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’”
The king of Assyria promised God’s people a comfortable captivity, a bondage with benefits. So does the world today. You will be asked to compromise your faith and obedience to God by the majority around you who claim to be very religious and noble; by those who claim to be on God’s side; by those who will appeal to common sense and reason. You will be told that God’s commands must “evolve” and be re-defined to suit the changing times. You will see many around you surrender to the world and compromise for comfort. Will you have the faith to hold the line and remain obedient to God’s commands though apparently surrounded?
- Psalm 37:39 -- The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. - Proverbs 24:10 -- If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small. - 1 Corinthians 16:13 -- Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. - 1 Peter 3:15 -- But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, - Hebrews 11:7 -- By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. - Colossians 2:8 -- See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
The world believes that all religions are basically equal, just different paths to God. The world teaches that we should respect all religions equally. Those who accept such notions will ultimately come to the conclusion that Christianity is just as powerless as all the other false religions of the world. Do you understand that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father and the only source of true power? When all other beliefs prove false, will you remain unmoved on the Rock of Jesus?
2 Kings 18:36 — But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, “Do not answer him.”
Don’t waste your time debating with the ungodly or even acknowledging their false doctrines. If they want to hear the truth, they will listen.
John 20:13 — Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
“Mary Magdalene could vividly remember the day Jesus delivered her from her demonic bondage. She became His devoted follower that day (Luke 8:2). She watched Him heal the sick and teach people about God’s love. Her life was transformed as she experienced the joy of being with Jesus.
Then her world seemed to fall apart! Her Lord was arrested and brutally murdered. The crowds that had shouted ‘Hosanna!’ at the beginning of the week cried ‘Crucify him!’ by week’s end. A final blow came when she went to anoint Jesus’ body at the tomb. She saw that His tomb was empty. Someone had apparently stolen His body. As she sobbed in despair, angels asked the poignant question, “Why are you weeping?” She was standing before an empty tomb! Jesus had risen, just as He had promised! Knowing that Jesus was alive put everything back into perspective, and Mary joyfully raced to share the good news with others.
The Christian life is not always easy. There are joyful moments of walking with Jesus, but there are also times when nothing makes sense and when your world seems to be crumbling. The world will mock your Lord, and you may grow discouraged. At those times, you need to peer into the empty tomb. It is the abandoned tomb that gives you hope, for it symbolizes the life that is yours from your risen Lord. The empty tomb promises that nothing, not even death itself, can defeat the purposes of your Lord. Are you weeping beside an empty tomb?
John 20:19 – On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
After the disciples had all abandoned Jesus, now hiding in fear and doubt, Jesus’s first word to them was “Peace.” What is your hope for, attitude towards, and message to those who abandon you, mistreat you, and let you down.
John 20:21 — “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.”
Yes, you are expected to live like Jesus and only do what He says.
John 20:22 — Receive the Holy Spirit.
Jesus empowers you with the Holy Spirit to do His work. He doesn’t empower you to do your work.
John 20:29 – Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Faith involves believing what is unseen more than what is seen. Faith isn’t about having faith in faith itself, believing you can achieve whatever you can imagine if your belief is strong enough. Faith is about believing the unseen Almighty to fulfill is word and promises. Faith trusts God more than feelings and perceptions. Faith is about being faithful to God because of your confidence in God’s faithfulness.
- Hebrews 11:1 — Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
- Romans 1:17 — For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
- Hebrews 11:6 — And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
John 20:30, 31 – Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
The Bible is given to you to strengthen your faith. Commit to reading it, studying it, meditating upon it, and following it every day of your life from this day forward.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 29 November 2022: Today, pray for God to reveal areas of compromise in your life, and pray for the Lord’s help in removing them. Pray that God will strengthen your faith to live faithfully as a testimony to your unwavering confidence in His faithfulness.