Sound Doctrine

Understand the present time

Imagine an army that has taken every city; every resource; every person. Nothing can stand against them. They ravage and plunder; burn cities and destroy civilizations. I wrote previously about an invading army that attempted to appropriate the culture and the futility of that endeavor. Now I write about an army that only cares about annihilation. The Assyrians. The precursor to the Babylonians I wrote about here.

Hezekiah found himself surrounded by the invading Assyrian army. They approached the gates of Jerusalem sowing doubt in the king and in the Lord he served. Imagine the scene for a moment. An army has taken all the land and, with the full force of his army, stands outside the city. Imagine the hopelessness, fear, and anxiety that must have gripped the city. The great nation of Judah stands at the brink of destruction. No army will aid them. There are no reinforcements coming. In that moment, the leader of the army begins to mock Hezekiah and Yahweh.

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?’” 2 Kings 18:32-35

Hezekiah tears his clothes and puts on sackcloth. He humbles himself, knowing that he has no power to save his people. All is lost except for his faith in God. He reaches out for Him. Not with strength, but with humility. He has failed to protect his people and has allowed God to be openly mocked. Notice the hopelessness in the request he makes to the prophet Isaiah: 

They said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the Lord your God heard all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the Lord your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.” 2 Kings 19

Isaiah sends him a message of comfort. Judah will be saved. The Assyrians will be turned away. Distraction will come to the king and he will be turned away. Upon hearing this Hezekiah goes into the presence of the Lord and pleads for his help.

“O Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.16 Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O Lord our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”

His prayer is remarkable. He does not say that he can do anything or that his army is able to defeat the Assyrians. He knows that he is powerless. Without God, he is completely lost. Hezekiah has a mindset that we should all emulate. We are without hope apart from God. Our culture stands at our gates with an army in full force. It breathes deception and lies. It declares that there is no power in God. There is no hope in faith. It says to accept or be pushed aside.

If we stand against popular opinion and hold to Christian values, we are called intolerant bigots on the wrong side of history. I propose that we are not on the wrong side of history but that it bears out what we hold to now. What difference is there today than in Hezekiah’s time? He could see the army; we can watch the news. We have an advocate stronger than any invading army. A hope that rests not on what we see but on what has already been done. We hope, not in the world, but in the God who saves. From the brink of destruction, Hezekiah was saved. Not by his power, but by the Lord’s.

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. 2 Kings 19: 32-35

Stand firm in the hope to which you have been called. Rejoice in your sufferings. They are just for a little while. God has not forgotten you. He stands ready to aid all that call on His name. We have the victory if but for a little while the enemy is at our gates. God is with you if you are Christ’s. Death has no hold; no victory. Your circumstances may be bleak, but the angel of the Lord stands ready. However, walk in love. It’s not our place to condemn, but to declare the goodness of God to those who are lost. Be at peace with your neighbor and your enemy. Pray for them, be merciful towards them. Show the love of Christ to the world.

Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. Romans 13:10-11

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