Monday, April 18, 2016

Like a Bird in a Cage

One of my favorite stories in the Old Testament occurs in 2 Kings 18 & 19.  The northern kingdom of Israel has already fallen and gone into exile.  The Assyrian Empire is at the peak of its powers.  They are enlarging their territory southward into Africa and right in the way is the little kingdom of Judah.  Thus far, no one has been able to withstand the might of this growing empire.  For the ancients, this was a clear sign that the gods of the Assyrians must be superior to the gods of the nations they’ve overcome.  So, Sennacherib, the king of Assyria assumes that he’ll role through Judah and Jerusalem just like he’s plowed through the other nations in the area.  But there’s one thing that Sennacherib doesn’t know – the God of Judah, YHWH, isn’t like the idols of the other nations.  He’s not just the God of Judah, he’s the God of the Universe! 

Sennacherib sends a letter to Hezekiah, the king of Judah telling him that resistance is futile.  Rather than trying to sort out the situation through his own ingenuity, Hezekiah goes to the house of the Lord and spreads the letter out before God and, essentially, leaves the matter in the hands of YHWH.  And YHWH doesn’t disappoint.  He sends word through Isaiah that Sennacherib’s days are numbered and that he will not enter the city of Jerusalem.  In fact, that very night, an angel of the Lord descends into the Assyrian camp and strikes down 185,000 soldiers.  The remaining army retreats back home and before too long, Sennacherib is killed by two of his own sons. 
There's historical records mentioning that Sennacherib had Hezekiah penned up in Jerusalem, like a bird in a cage.  But the records don't mention anything else.  Spin is nothing new.  In other words, the best that Sennacherib could do was to surround Jerusalem, but just as God promised, he never entered the city.  The next time we’re faced with a seemingly unwinnable battle, may our first response be like Hezekiah’s.  Instead of seeking to sort out the situation ourselves, may we instead turn to the Lord and trust him for deliverance! - Shay

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