OBSTACLES and OPPORTUNITIES…


Psalm 46:1-3 – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.”  NKJV

I would encourage you to read the entirety of Psalm 46.  Psalms 46, 47, and 48 were written at the same time by the same person.  After you read this Psalm, I suggest you go to 2 Kings 18-19.  In these two chapters, we have one of the great records of faith in the Bible.  It is in those passages we discover the “Ways of Faith” and I believe it so vital that we should examine the account with some detail.  It is quite possible we will discover some things about Faith we have never before seen.

In this account, we see one of the “Mad Dictators” of the Middle East of that era.  This type of ruler has always been a problem in that region and amazingly they always seem to originate by the River Euphrates and most move against Israel at some time or other.  That Despot is named Sennacherib, King of Assyria and he self-identified himself as, “The Great King, King of all the Earth.”  What a display of humility, right?  His goal was to take over and rule the entire Earth as he knows it.  He has already subdued the ten (10) Northern Tribes [Israel] which leaves only Judah to conquer.  Here, twenty years later he has returned and is on his way to Egypt and travels through Jerusalem where he encounters the King of Judah, Hezekiah.

Hezekiah is a “man of faith.”  He hears the terrible news that Sennacherib is coming with plans to obliterate everything and everyone in his path that resists.  Finally, Hezekiah says, Enough!  In a seeming olive branch, Sennacherib demands that Hezekiah must pay an exorbitant tax to him.  Sennacherib passes by and continues toward Egypt with Judah’s gold in his treasury. 

However, as he passes by, he realizes that passing by is a mistake for Hezekiah is not the kind of man to quietly go into hiding and submission, so he turns back.  He sends his choice generals to Jerusalem, and they gather outside the city walls.  Their presence draws a very large crowd of people.  Everyone is there, watching and waiting!  The Generals tell Hezekiah that Sennacherib has changed his mind and Judah must submit to an unconditional surrender.

This is an incredible conversation.  The generals say, “Hezekiah don’t give us this foolishness that you are going to trust in the Lord your God.  We know your history and you’re subject to saying something like that.  Well, let us give you a little history lesson about where the Great King of Assyria has been and then you will see the futility of your decision and actions.  Every city we came to said, ‘We will trust in our gods, but where are they today?  Their gods have been burned with fire and they are in captivity.  What good were their gods?  Hezekiah, Hezekiah, if your God says He will look after you, believe us, there is no God anywhere that can match the Great King of Assyria.  He is the GREAT KING OF ALL THE EARTH!”  

The people of Judah hear this and then the generals begin to speak in the common language that all could understand and say, “Don’t listen to Hezekiah.  Don’t listen to his plan that your God is going to work on your behalf.  Face reality!  Save your own hides!  Come out in surrender and we promise that you’ll have life in abundance with us!” 

The generals then wait for the expected answer.  Hezekiah goes back into the Temple of the Lord. He is distressed and distraught. There is a massive storm brewing just outside the gates and turmoil inside his own heart.  He is in a major crisis, and he begins to survey his situation.  He talks to himself and God saying, “It is obvious if we do not surrender, Sennacherib who is just down the road in the Sinai will return after he has defeated Egypt and will be furious.  At that point, it will be over for us.  This is the Apocalypse!”   This is an incredibly serious situation.  The beautiful dream of the world that Hezekiah seeking for the Israelites is over. This is pressure with a capital “P”. What is he to do? 

Then, he remembers the speech of the generals wasn’t about Hezekiah at all.  Virtually everything they said was about GOD.  They said, “Who do you think your God is?  He is no match for the Great King of Assyria.”  They have insulted and blasphemed God Himself.  But why doesn’t God do something?  Where is He?  Is He listening?  They have openly challenged God, His power, integrity, and authority.  They have cursed His name, so why doesn’t He do something?   This is serious and his faith is terribly shaken. 

Hezekiah’s response was to send a message to Isaiah the prophet, who was also a man of the court, possibly a Royal Prince himself.  He is the man of God of the court, so Hezekiah says, “Man of God, what do you say?”  Isaiah did not hesitate and spoke definitively, “This is what God says:  I will put a spirit in Sennacherib so that he will hear a rumor and return to his own land.  Relax, he’s not coming here!”  Really? 

I can imagine the conflict in Hezekiah’s heart and mind, but Hezekiah is ready to grasp at any straw he can find, and he speaks to the generals advising them He Will Not Surrender!  They are totally caught off guard and shocked and when they inform Sennacherib, He is Furious!  He writes a letter to Hezekiah relating what the generals have said in 2 Kings 19:10-12. 

It is a simple letter in which he says, “Hezekiah, I’ve had enough of you!  I’m fed up with your stupid religious talk.  Your God cannot help you now.  You’ve had it, chum!”   The letter arrives and Hezekiah reads it and then took it into the Temple and spread it out on the table.  He assumes God can read the letter and then he prays…   It is in the prayer that we find the incredible power of faith.

Hopefully, I have whetted your appetite, and encourage you to study this account and see the faith of Hezekiah and the Power of God!

God bless you as you enjoy this day the Lord has made and be glad in it!

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