God sent prophets to the Kings of Israel and Judah for many years, to warn them of the coming judgments for their rebellion and sin, but Israel, in its exceptionally rebellious and idol loving state, was to fall 136 years before the Kingdom of Judah to one of the most powerful, ruthless, advanced civilizations of that age—the Assyrians. (Remember Jonah and the Ninevites?) Just after the fall of The Kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians, they would turn their attention to the Kingdom of Judah; Hezekiah's actions before, and during this extreme time in Judah's history have much to teach us about living for Christ today. Romans 15:4, 1 Corinthians 10:11. There are some powerful, and relevant truths we need to apply to our own lives, that parallel Hezekiah's story because the world is trying to ridicule and overthrow our fortress of the heart—our way of thinking and living for Christ; just as the Assyrians were trying to ridicule and overthrow their way of living for God.
We are in an environment today that has challenged and attacked everything we believe about our Savior, Jesus Christ. The love and servitude that Christ teaches, has been turned around to look like intolerance and hate; and we are under social and even legal pressures to change what we believe, and how we serve, constantly. Most us have made so many exceptions, and deals, and concessions with the world that holds us under attack, that we have all but lost much of the joy and fellowship God meant for a True Believer, and we are living as many did in the days of Hezekiah's reign—we are trying to serve our One True God, and still serve other gods as well.
Let's look at one of the first, and most important steps Hezekiah ever took as king, which led to his nation's salvation in the end. Hezekiah followed a very wicked king, his father, Ahaz, who not only led Judah in the worship of horrible, pagan gods, but, actually even offered one of his own sons in worship, to Molech here. (2 Kings 16:2-4). We as a nation are just as bad, though many have done so in ignorance, this country has given up over 58 million children in sacrifice to our gods—the gods of selfishness, and pride, and convenience, and some of the techniques used are just as bad when you see them. And not just in abortion, but in every area of our lives today we use our lifestyles, our money, and our time to serve our gods. Yet, we still want the favor and protection of Christ, or else we'll dare to call him, "Intolerant and judgmental" if we could just see how far we've drifted, we could see that our first place to start must be where Hezekiah started: 2 Kings 18:2-7. If we are to make it in this culture that has radically and openly turned against everything God says is right, we have to start by drawing a line in the sand, and saying, "No further!" We have to take back what we've already given away; if we don't start here, we are fighting a losing battle. [What do you have to remove from your life, that is being used to worship, "other gods?" Do you have practices that are openly unbiblical? (living arrangements, sexual practices, sexual orientation, pornography, drinking, drugs, dabbling with occult, entertainment preferences openly ungodly)] Hezekiah did something that seemed to make no sense at all (and would not have been done, were this just a political rebellion against Assyria, or for show); He even broke into pieces the bronze serpent statue used by Moses to save thousands from poisonous snakes in the desert (Numbers 21:9), that Jesus, Himself, stated was a representation of the Son of man being lifted up as sin, so others may be saved. Hezekiah gave this statue the name of, "Nehushtan" which simply means, "piece of brass" to remind them that a tool God uses should not become an object of worship, but God Himself. The people had taken a good thing given by God, and made it the center of all their attention, rather than focusing on a true relationship with the Living God. [What do you need to clean out, that may even be a good gift from God, but has become an idol in life? (imbalanced relationships, the desire to see family and kids happy or successful, gifts or blessings given to serve others that are just horded, coveted, and used for self)]: You will go no further with God until these things are dealt with first; not because God will reject you in your sins, but because, as long as your heart is devoted to these things, you will never seek His mindset in your life, you will never see what He thinks is important, you will never be ready to sacrifice, and live in a way He knows is best for you and all those around you. It is not because He rejects you, but you reject Him. 2 Kings 17:41.
We can learn the next important step in preparing ourselves to live in a hostile world, by seeing a serious mistake that Hezekiah made in his dealings with an overwhelmingly powerful opposing force. These Assyrians that had completely conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah's rule, had begun moving against his Kingdom as well; and the Assyrian ruler, Sennacherib, took every fortified city in the Kingdom of Judah, except for Jerusalem itself. The second most important, and fortified city, other than Jerusalem was Lachish at that time. Sennacherib was so proud of the conquest of this city, that he had a relief scene carved into his palace walls in the Capital of Nineveh, showing the details of the siege of the city, marching the captives out, and torturing and impaling others, and showing Sennacherib receiving captives and booty from the conquest. [Parts of the siege ramp built by Sennacherib, are still present at Lachish today. (Mass grave of over 1500 from siege found)] Feeling overwhelmed by the power trying to enter his city, Hezekiah makes a deal with the devil: 2 Kings 18:13-16. Every time we compromise with the ways of the world, every time we make the world our friend and ally because we don't want to fight the battle, we are having to pay with the most valuable assets in our lives; we are having to steal from the treasures of God. Satan only comes for the very best treasures. Do you realize that is what you are paying him with? We steal from His wisdom that can give us a much better and happier life. We steal from His blessings that could be given in relationships, children, jobs, courses of life, etc; we steal from intimacy and supernatural power that could come from His touch in our lives. What do each of us give out to Satan every day, that comes from our most prized treasure—God's will and Presence in our lives? [What treasures will you never realize you've missed until you get to the other side? Things He meant for your relationships, your career, your life, because you'd rather pay from God's Treasure, than fight the fight?]
Now, here is where the Assyrians pour on one of the worst attacks possible, without actually bringing physical warfare to the city, and it is a perfect illustration of one of the most crippling attacks Satan uses against us in this hostile world today: despair and hopelessness. [How many sitting are there? Divorce, substance abuse, suicide, clinical depression, anxiety, apathy, all in the, "Christian culture" today, show that Satan is winning this war of despair]. Watch the cunning ways of the Assyrians here: 2 Kings 18:17-21. They confidently and defiantly stood right beside the water supply to the whole city. The field commander starts his talks of despair by telling the whole city, they can't trust anyone around them to give any help, no one can save them. [How many have those exact feelings? (No one understands where I am at, no one will ever understand or care how I am feeling, no one is close to me, like others have close friends, everyone I trust just does me wrong in the end, everyone else is stupid, or selfish)]. These feelings are all too real, but they are all too, Satan. Recognize them when they come, and give them to God. (Stop giving your ear to Satan) [Everyone is not dumb, or mean, or uncaring, or beyond understanding]
As the field commander takes it to the next, incredibly sly level, this is such a picture of Satan here: 2 Kings 18:22. That was a blatant lie, Hezekiah had worked to restore the people; it’s still a powerful attack that on the frontline of combat still today. [Don't ever let Satan tell you that you have gone too far, and God will never want to help you now. In your darkest moments He is always there. He is always faithfully waiting to hold and help! you just have to reach out to him in want and desire. Satan will do all he can to make you think that is a hopeless cause; it is never too late, or too far, with God: 2 Timothy 2:11-13: He died to forgive the sins you have committed against Him, He will not deny his own Blood spilled for your life.]
2 Kings 18:23-25: Satan is probably saying this to some of you right now: "You will never get through this, because it is God's punishment on you for your sin in the first place," “You are hopeless! God, Himself, is taking you out!” That is so often not the case. So often it is our own actions that bring trouble; so often it is Satan that brings trouble; but, even if it is God having to wake us up, it is never His will or joy, and we are always within His care if we cry out (Think of David and Bathsheba/Uriah). Lastly, listen as the field commander says, "Nothing is going to stop the inevitable, so you may as well join peacefully and enjoy it”: 2 Kings 18:26-36: “This is just the way life is now," “You will never make it go away," "So you may as well join in, then things won't be so hard on you." [How many people have this mentality in school, work, and amongst family? (This is just the way things are now; people will think you are nuts not to believe this, not to do this anymore, in this day and age; it's expected, or you'll be considered intolerant and judgmental)] Satan will make you think the happiest life, is one of less resistance; that you need to think in the here and now. Truth is, the life of least resistance is the one leading to broken families, anger, hate, depression, disease, loss of identity, lack of purpose, and unfulfilled lives; truth is, the here and now is just a wisp of smoke, and what you care about and do now, will affect your joy and purpose for eons of time. Satan is working harder than ever to break into our minds and hearts in these last days; most are falling to his army. Satan’s whole goal is exactly like Sennacherib—to cause you to surrender to the attack.
What steps do you need to take in the resistance? Clean house—remove all that is an open part of Satan's world—why do we flirt with what we know hurts God? Stop making deals that cost you riches from the Temple—every time you compromise, you lose the riches of God's wisdom for how to live your life, and blessings you could have in better relationships, right relationships, jobs, future plans, children. Stop buying Satan's depressing story; don't listen to him. Stop believing no one is smart enough, or cares enough, or understands enough to be there. Stop believing God is too mad at you to want to help. Stop believing God put you there and wants to leave you in despair for spite, because he's given up. Live in the world, but love and trust God enough to keep yourself from the world, or you will act just like the world.
Next week, we will see how Hezekiah and all of Jerusalem answer King Sennacherib in his challenges and threats…
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