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Only One risen Saviuor

Only One risen Saviuor
There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved - Jesus

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Isaiah Days 90 to 95



Isaiah Day 90 - Uh Oh...

36 Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. 2 Then the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. And he stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool, on the highway to the Fuller’s Field. 3 And Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came out to him.

4 Then the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: “What confidence is this in which you trust? 5 I say you speak of having plans and power for war; but they are mere words. Now in whom do you trust, that you rebel against me? 6 Look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.

7 “But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar’?”’ 8 Now therefore, I urge you, give a pledge to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses—if you are able on your part to put riders on them! 9 How then will you repel one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put your trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen? 10 Have I now come up without the Lord against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it.’”

11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.”

12 But the Rabshakeh said, “Has my master sent me to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, who will eat and drink their own waste with you?”

13 Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out with a loud voice in Hebrew, and said, “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14 Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you; 15 nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.”’ 16 Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; 17 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand? 20 Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’”

21 But they held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.” 22 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.

Allow me to translate this standoff into junior high language. The King of Assyria (Sennacherib) sends his chief bully (the Rabshakeh) to Jerusalem with a message. A few of Hezekiah's(king of Judah) officials come out to try and meet him quietly. He wasn't interested in quiet. He wanted the whole city to hear his message. It went something like this:

"Your King is a loser. You are losers. Your people are losers. Egypt can't help. Your God can't help you. No one can help. We could give you 2000 horses and you couldn't even find warriors to ride them. You better pay up because we are the only ones who can protect your pathetic lives and if you don't..."

This is the bully who steals your lunch money on an international scale. Judah is backed into a corner and it appears there is no way out. Note how Sennacherib through the Rabshakeh is careful to point out that no other nation was saved by their gods. Note also that Sennacherib is not ignorant of the reforms Hezekiah has undertaken in Judah by tearing down the high places and worshipping God simply on altars just as Noah and Abraham had done before them. The simple altar on which is symbolically placed the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the whole world. Even in this seemingly hopeless situation Jesus is quietly but surely there, the Deliverer of all who trust in Him.

We'll find out what happens next tomorrow...


Isaiah Day 91 - How Do You Pray?

37 And so it was, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. 2 Then he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz. 3 And they said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah: ‘This day is a day of trouble and rebuke and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth. 4 It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’”
5 So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. 6 And Isaiah said to them, “Thus you shall say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. 7 Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.”’”
8 Then the Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah, for he heard that he had departed from Lachish. 9 And the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, “He has come out to make war with you.” So when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 “Thus you shall speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying, “Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” 11 Look! You have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by utterly destroying them; and shall you be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered those whom my fathers have destroyed, Gozan and Haran and Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?’”
14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15 Then Hezekiah prayed to the Lord, saying: 16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 18 Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19 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 destroyed them. 20 Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord, You alone.”

I don't think the story itself needs much explanation at this point but it did challenge me so it's only fair that I pass the challenge on to you. Notice what Hezekiah is praying for. He is asking God to save them so the other nations will know that He is One True God.

Here's what is challenging me and I'm going to leave it with you to think about because at this point that's what I'm doing. The challenge is this:

Is Hezekiah being humble and exercising faith as the story seems to suggest or is he seeing God as a narcissist(self-obsessed) and he is trying to use God's self-obsession against Him in order to secure what he wants from Him? Or is it a mixture of the two?

Let me think out loud for a minute and then leave you to think about it. The tearing of the clothes etc... indicates they feel hopeless on their own. The fact they are bringing the mess to God indicates they obviously believe He is able to save them. It's the appeal to selfishness that has me scratching my head and wondering what kind of God they think He is. "Save us so you can show them You are the Man!"

What do you think? It seems quite different from the approach of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3.


Isaiah Day 92 - Why Do We Pray?

37:14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15 Then Hezekiah prayed to the Lord, saying:   16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 18 Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19 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 destroyed them. 20 Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord, You alone.”.

It's not a long prayer but it is intense. Judah is on the ropes. Hezekiah has no answers.

Before we go any further this scene is a marked contrast to King Ahaz who we met earlier. He is no longer the king. Hezekiah is now on the throne. When Ahaz faced the news that formidable foes we're coming against him he wanted nothing to do with God or His promises. In fact it was his unequivocal unbelief that made Judah a vassal of mighty Assyria and now power hungry Sennacherib wants more than tribute money. He plans to take full control.

Hezekiah is definitely not like Ahaz. He believes God can help them. He believes that God is their only hope. He enters the structure that represents His house. He unrolls the scroll before Him there as if God needed to be made aware of the situation. As silly as that picture may seem it does underline the intensity of the moment. It underlines Hezekiah's sense of his own smallness and helplessness.

When Jesus was here helpless people facing insurmountable problems fell at His feet. Some did it loudly, some in stealth mode. We can question the purity of Hezekiah's motives but we can't question his belief that God was able.

Yesterday I challenged you with the thought of why did Hezekiah seemingly appeal to God's self-obsession? The truth is God has no self-obsession but we often think He thinks like we do and so we treat Him as if He does. "Come on God, the stage is set! It's time for you to jump on stage and show the world Who You are!"

Something in that seems wrong. I thought about it off and on all day. Other Bible characters and situations entered my mind. Elijah wanted God to put on a show on Carmel and settle the issue of Who was the True God. He obliged but nothing changed, at least not overnight... Then I thought of Joshua. He gets less attention than he should. He was a mighty man of faith and he often prayed asking God to intervene and help them and he would say "Do it for Your Names sake." It sounded like Joshua was asking God to be selfish but when you read closer that wasn't it. Joshua knew his people. He knew the nation was wishy washy at best. He knew some of Egypt was still in them. He knew they didn't deserve God's help. Joshua was saying "I can't ask you because we deserve You, so I'm asking You because I know You. I am appealing to Your Name (character). Show us and the other nations all over again how good and gracious You are."

 Hezekiah has watched other religious nations fall all around him. He knows their gods were helpless to save them because they were just manmade imaginary deities. He knows that often in the past the True God was also helpless to save Judah because they refused His help, refused to trust Him, refused to position themselves for deliverance. Hezekiah is not about to repeat that mistake. He is pleading at the throne of mercy for the God of love to demonstrate to every watching eye and every reachable heart that He is alive and well and as willing and able to save as ever.

Is that why we pray today? Is our number one motive to have the world see Him?

Prophecy tells us that at the end of time the character of God will be made known to the entire world by those who love and trust Him. It seems an impossible task. It is an impossible task. Men and women and young people, even children will figuratively enter His house. They will lay before Him the daunting impossibility of the task. They will ask Him to rise up and do it for His names sake. They will ask Him to do it for the sake of the watching masses who know Him not.

Tomorrow we'll see what happened then and it will give us a glimpse into what is yet to happen...


Isaiah Day 93 - Because You Prayed...

37:21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, 22 this is the word which the Lord has spoken concerning him:

“The virgin, the daughter of Zion,
Has despised you, laughed you to scorn;
The daughter of Jerusalem
Has shaken her head behind your back!

23 “Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice,
And lifted up your eyes on high?
Against the Holy One of Israel.
24 By your servants you have reproached the Lord,
And said, ‘By the multitude of my chariots
I have come up to the height of the mountains,
To the limits of Lebanon;
I will cut down its tall cedars
And its choice cypress trees;
I will enter its farthest height,
To its fruitful forest.
25 I have dug and drunk water,
And with the soles of my feet I have dried up
All the brooks of defense.’
26 “Did you not hear long ago
How I made it,
From ancient times that I formed it?
Now I have brought it to pass,
That you should be
For crushing fortified cities into heaps of ruins.
27 Therefore their inhabitants had little power;
They were dismayed and confounded;
They were as the grass of the field
And the green herb,
As the grass on the housetops
And grain blighted before it is grown.

28 “But I know your dwelling place,
Your going out and your coming in,
And your rage against Me.
29 Because your rage against Me and your tumult
Have come up to My ears,
Therefore I will put My hook in your nose
And My bridle in your lips,
And I will turn you back
By the way which you came.”’

30 “This shall be a sign to you:

You shall eat this year such as grows of itself,
And the second year what springs from the same;
Also in the third year sow and reap,
Plant vineyards and eat the fruit of them.
31 And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah
Shall again take root downward,
And bear fruit upward.
32 For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant,
And those who escape from Mount Zion.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
33 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria:
‘He shall not come into this city,
Nor shoot an arrow there,
Nor come before it with shield,
Nor build a siege mound against it.
34 By the way that he came,
By the same shall he return;
And he shall not come into this city,’
Says the Lord.
35 ‘For I will defend this city, to save it
For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’”


Read verse 21 again. God says to Hezekiah "Because you prayed..." Does prayer make a difference? Apparently it does. Jesus plainly said "You don't receive because you don't ask..." Jesus also also said "Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened..."

King Ahaz didn't believe and because he didn't believe he didn't pray and because he didn't pray he was left on his own which only increased his woes. Hezekiah believed there was a God in the heavens who created all things and was more than able to protect them. Because he believed he prayed and because he prayed God answered. In fact God's first words of response were "Because you prayed..."

If you are like me part of you is saying "But I have prayed before and all I got was deafening silence."

When I look back over my life the only prayers that got no response were the ones where I told Him what He had to do and when. That isn't praying, that's demanding, that's treating God as a servant, employee, or magic genie. Hezekiah's prayer is not like that. He just laid his burden before the Lord and left it there. He didn't tell God when or how to fix the situation. He just surrendered it to Him. I mean think about it, if we don't have the power to rescue ourselves or solve the problem(s) we're facing what makes us think we are wise enough to know what needs to be done?

The truth is God is so gracious that when He can without bringing us further trouble He will even answer when we treat Him like we're in charge.

So why is prayer so important? If He knows best and doesn't need our "wisdom" or "counsel" what's the deal? Here it is in the simplest terms I know.

The earth was made by God and given to Adam and Eve. They in turn turned it over to Satan. We now live under his rule. Where life forever would have been the norm, now we have death everywhere. Peace would have reigned but now strife and war. Health has been replaced by diseases of all kinds. Strength has turned to weakness and wisdom to foolishness. Does God love us less? Not a chance. However there are rules in the great war between Good and Satan and one of them is that God can't interfere in this domain we handed to Satan unless someone here asks Him to.

When we pray we are freeing God to act without Satan being able to accuse Him of illegal tampering.

So pray, not to tell Him what to do, but to grant Him the freedom/permission to bind the evil intentions of Satan as He sees best, when He chooses for the greatest good possible. Garth Brooks had a popular song a few years back called Unanswered Prayer. The key line of the song is that one of God's greatest gifts is unanswered prayer. Why? Because He is wise enough and loving enough to answer as we need, not as we ask or tell Him to do.

Don't advise Him, just ask, seek, knock, and leave the who, what, where, when, why, and how to Him.


Isaiah Day 94 - Don't Miss This

Here is the sum of God's answer to Hezekiah's prayer:

33 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria:
‘He shall not come into this city,
Nor shoot an arrow there,
Nor come before it with shield,
Nor build a siege mound against it.
34 By the way that he came,
By the same shall he return;
And he shall not come into this city,’
Says the Lord.
35 ‘For I will defend this city, to save it
For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’”
36 Then the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home,and remained at Nineveh. 38 Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

For a very long time modern skeptics claimed this miraculous defeat of Sennacherib never happened. Archaeological research eventually unearthed the truth. When God makes a promise He keeps it. Every. Single. Time.

There is something in God's response I want us to note. It is extremely important. He said He was going to intervene for His own sake, and for the sake of David. What's implied but not stated is that this deliverance has no connection to the faithfulness, or remorse, or change of heart of the people in Judah at the time. They don't deserve this. They haven't earned it. Time will reveal they didn't learn or grow from it. In fact in time we find out it only added to their national arrogance and pride. They came to see themselves as the untouchable favourites of God. About a century later when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came against them and God told them to submit to his rule they flatly refused. They felt Good would never allow them to suffer defeat even though within their own walls they were as corrupt as they had ever been if not worse.

Pride is an evil thing. Arrogance is it's ugly offspring. When God does not deliver us, we blame Him or turn from Him, or claim as Sennacherib did that He is powerless or worse non-existent. When God does deliver us we tend to take the mercy, the grace, the second chance and live on as we always did.

As the expression goes He is d@mned if He does intervene and d@mned if He doesn't.

In order to show that He is not happy with their current state He boldly states why He is defending them. For His own sake, and for David's sake. What does that mean?

For His own sake because He loves every living human being and He wants to keep the reality of His love and mercy alive in the earth despite our persistent rebellion. Remember Jonah and the big fish? That happened about fifty years previous to this event. It happened in Sennacherib's hometown of Nineveh. It's quite possible he was a young boy when it happened. If not he certainly would have heard about it as he was growing up. We know ultimately Nineveh returned to her old ways and was ultimately destroyed but not without many finding God in the interim. This intervention by God for Judah was not just for Judah. It was a reminder to Nineveh, all Assyria, and all the watching nations that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was still alive and well and the Promised One who would some day come and rule in line of David was still on the way. His throne was waiting. The promises were not forgotten. The Seed would come. David did not reign and hope and believe in vain.

Never allow His mercy to harden you in your rebellion. Sin destroys and if we don't pursue His sin eradicating power the promises will be realized without us. Sennacherib went home defeated not because Judah was good but because God is good. Will we join His kingdom or just try and use His mercy against Him for our own gain?


Isaiah Day 95 - It Can't Work

37:36 Then the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh. 38 Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

Sennacherib was an evil self-obsessed man. If narcissism could be defined/encapsulated by a single photograph it would be his picture. Archaeologists and historians have discovered that one of the reasons skeptics believed this defeat at Jerusalem never happened was because of his self-obsession. They had many archaeological records from Assyria but nothing about this battle or defeat. They have since found out why. Sennacherib never mentioned failure. He had monuments etc... made to celebrate his victories. Detailed records were kept of his successes but not a word was written down of his defeats.

In the end he was murdered by his own sons.

There is a reason why God is going to ultimately intervene to put an end to the rebellion Satan started. If He does not the entire planet will self-destruct. The flood was not a mission of destruction from God. It was a rescue mission to save us from ourselves. Sin like cancer spreads ruthlessly and if left unchecked and unchallenged it will win and by win I don't mean anything good.

Satan became obsessed with himself. That's how this all started. He had to be on the top. He had to rule. He had to be top dog. Sennacherib was just like him. That spirit of having to be top dog spreads. It infects everyone "below" you. They can't rest or be satisfied until they are on top. Sennacherib was killed by his own children. Herod killed his children to maintain his throne. So did Saddam Hussein. Self-obsession is ruthless, deadly, and can never work. It doesn't build, it destroys. If God withdrew and gave Satan free and full reign, death and destruction would be the norm until there only one being left standing at most. Nothing is more destructive, more toxic, or more shockingly ruinous than self-obsession.

Love on the other hand would rather lose than harm and finds more joy in the success of someone else than in their own. Love builds. Love develops. Love supports. Love empowers. Love never fails and in the end love will win. The mighty armies of darkness will suddenly come to nothing and the war will be forever over.

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