Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Chapter 16 - The Beginning of the End (of the Kingdom of Israel)

Sad news in chapter 16 - The northern kingdom falls to Assyria. This however did not come without several warnings. Prophets predicted it and kings refused to listen so God delivered on his promise and sent the Assyrian armies into the capital of Samaria and took captive the northern kingdom of Israel.

As the armies of Assyria turned their eyes toward Jerusalem the southern kingdom of Judah looked on and seemed doomed to the same fate. But instead of accepting defeat the young king Hezekiah turned to God's prophet Isaiah and he promised that Assyria will not take Jerusalem.

In an interesting exchange we have two voices calling out to Hezekiah. The voice of the Assyrian general taunting him for having faith in his God. "Do you really expect your God to stand up against this army when all other nations and their gods have fallen so easily?" was the mocking of the Assyrian general. On the other hand you have the prophet Isaiah reassuring Hezekiah that the Lord will indeed defend this city. Hezekiah has to choose which voice to listen to.

Don’t we all? Don't we all have competing voices calling out to us. One calling us to focus on the strength of our enemy and the weakness of our God. One intimidating us and calling us to give into the forces of evil. The other, God's voice, reminding us that He is with us. Reminding us that He is more powerful than any force man can muster. Each of us is caught in the middle and has to choose the voice we will listen to.

Hezekiah listens to the voice of God and amazing things happen. Assyria is distracted by another military action by the nation of Cush. A plague strikes the Assyrians and 185,000 drop dead! Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, is assassinated by his sons while worshiping his false god. The insurmountable armies of Assyria retreat and Jerusalem is spared!

Casting Crowns, a contemporary Christian band, recorded a song a few years back called The Voice of Truth which puts to music this battle we all face. Hear the words of the chorus:

But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth.

What voice will you listen to? The forces of evil will seem overwhelming. The enemy will taunt you and mock you. It is so easy to give in but we must continue to listen to the voice of God and stand firm for what we believe. God will deliver. He has proven himself over and over again.

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