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In the Face of Lies

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Authored by Eldora Sichrovsky (a guest contribution)

A few months ago, I began a project of reading my Bible cover to cover. This venture has involved studying books and passages that I’d never read before or never in their entirety. It’s been a rewarding and fascinating journey, and I’ve made several discoveries along the way, one of which I’d like to share with you. I was reading through the book of Isaiah when I found, in chapters 36 and 37, this amazing story:

In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. Then [he] sent his field commander with a large army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem… Eliakim, the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah… went out to him.

The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours? You say you have strategy and military strength—but you speak only empty words. On what are you depending, that you rebel against me? … If you say to me, ‘We are depending on the LORD our God’—isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying…’You must worship before this altar’?

Come now, make a bargain with … the king of Assyria; I will give you two thousand horses—if you can put riders on them! … [H]ave I come to attack and destroy this land without the LORD? The LORD himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.’”1

Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah must have felt very disheartened at hearing this derogatory and frightening spiel. King Sennacherib was declaring them as good as defeated, threatening to destroy the remainder of their country, and, worst of all, deriding their faith in God. In a desperate attempt to preserve their army’s already shaken morale, they pled, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall.”

Instead, the commander rubbed salt on their wounds by sneering, “Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the men sitting on the wall—who, like you, will have to eat their own filth and drink their own urine?” Turning to the men on the wall, he shouted in Hebrew, “Hear the words of the great king … of Assyria: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you! Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the LORD when he says, ‘The LORD will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”

The men on the wall, as instructed by Hezekiah, kept silent in the face of his tirade, but imagine how alarmed and distraught they felt. They must have been tempted to feel all hope was lost! The three officials tore their clothes as they related the news to Hezekiah, for in that time and culture, tearing one’s clothes was a sign of great grief. Upon hearing their report, Hezekiah tore his clothes too, put on sackcloth, and went to the temple to pray. He then sent messengers to the prophet Isaiah to explain their plight and to plead that God would not let Sennacherib’s insolence go unpunished.

Isaiah replied, “This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—the words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Listen! I am going to put a spirit in him so that when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down by the sword.”2

Shortly thereafter, the commander got word that Sennacherib had left Lachish to fight against Libnah, and he hurried off to join Sennacherib in waging that war. While at Libnah, Sennacherib, ever eager to assure Hezekiah and the people of Judah that he had not forgotten his threat to destroy them, sent a menacing letter which began with, “Do not let the god you depend on deceive you… Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered?” Arrogantly, Sennacherib listed all the other nations’ gods who failed to deliver their people from his hands and assured Hezekiah that he and his people would surely suffer the same fate.

If I were Hezekiah, I would have despaired. “Lord, I thought Sennacherib was going to be killed as You promised he would. What happened?” But as distressed as he must have felt, Hezekiah did not doubt God. Instead, he went straight to the temple, where he spread Sennacherib’s blasphemous letter before the Lord and prayed a powerful prayer. He first acknowledged God’s sovereign power as the Creator of the universe and then added that although the Assyrians had indeed demolished many countries, those countries’ gods were merely lifeless gods of wood and stone. He pled with God to intervene so that everyone would know that He alone was the true, living God.

In response, God sent an angel who slew 185,000 of Sennacherib’s men. Hearing this report, Sennacherib, true to God’s promise, fled Israel in terror. And what about the part about him being “cut down by the sword”? Twenty years later, two of Sennacherib’s sons murdered him as he was worshipping in the temple of his god Nisroch.

This story taught me two important lessons:

Number 1: Don’t let the devil talk you into giving up!

In the Bible, Jesus tells us that Satan is “a liar and the father of lies … there is no truth in him.”3 It’s interesting to note that King Sennacherib never shot a single arrow at the people of Judah; his only weapon was his words, which he used to demoralize and terrify them. Similarly, so much of the devil’s power to discourage us and make us doubt God’s promises, power, and love lies in negative thoughts and fears.

Have you ever stepped out to do something you believed God wanted you to do, such as tell a friend about Jesus, and struggled with a host of doubts as you set out to do it, thoughts like, “You’re going to sound like a freak!” and “You can’t do it!” The devil often fights the hardest to stop you from taking the first step, but if you step out, God will never fail to empower you.

Or as Hezekiah and the people of Judah experienced, have you asked God to intervene in a difficult situation but, instead of things getting better, they’ve remained just as bad or even gotten worse? In such times, it’s easy to give in to that dark voice inside your head that tells you God didn’t hear your prayer, that He makes false promises, doesn’t care, or isn’t even there. But God often allows us to be tested just before we receive the answer or victory. If you hold on to His Word and keep on believing that He is in control and follow through on whatever He shows you to do, you will triumph in the end! Like King Hezekiah and his people, you’ll come out of the experience with stronger faith because you faced the challenges and found God to be true.

Number 2: Lean on God and let Him fight for you!

When Sennacherib’s commander verbally abused Hezekiah and his people, Hezekiah did not attempt a counterattack. Instead, he went straight to the temple, prayed, and sought the counsel of God’s prophet, Isaiah. Likewise, when Hezekiah received Sennacherib’s threatening letter, instead of writing a sizzling reply, he brought the matter to God and asked Him what to do. God was Hezekiah’s first and surest line of defense.

When you are barraged with doubts and fears, don’t just try to debate with them in your mind or struggle against them alone. Pray and focus your mind on positive things. Remind yourself of God’s promises and let them bolster your faith and silence the voice of fear and doubt. As the saying goes, “Let the light in, and the darkness will flee of itself!” Another secret to victory is to, like Hezekiah, seek the prayer, support, and counsel of others. Doing so will give you courage and strength, for “one can chase a thousand, but two can put ten thousand to flight.”4

In Psalm 40:2, David says, “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”5 No matter what things look like or how you may feel, Jesus is always there. If you put your trust in Him, He will come through for you in the end. Hold on to Him, and He will lift you out of the mud of doubt and set your feet upon the solid rock of faith, where nothing you face will be able to intimidate or destabilize you!


Footnotes
1 Isaiah 36:1–5,7–8, 10 NIV
2 Isaiah 37:6–7
3 John 8:44
4 Deuteronomy 32:30
5 New Living Translation

Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2016 by The Family International


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