Friday, May 15, 2009

The Defeat of a Dreadful Foe (Part 1)

“For there is a greater power with us than with him” (2 Chronicles 32:7).

Have you ever wondered why the Lord let’s bad things happen to good people? It’s a dilemma that has vexed the minds of God-fearing men and women down through the ages. Obviously, there are factors at work here that we don’t yet fully understand or appreciate.

While reading my Bible I came upon a curious passage that gives some insight into how and why the Lord sometimes works in such an intriguing manner. The Bible says, “After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself” (2 Chronicles 32:1).

At first this struck me as, well -- unfair. I mean, here is guy – Hezekiah -- who was a very zealous, devout, and good man; who did what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God.

He reinstituted the Passover Feast, which had long been passed over. He restored the Temple, which had been desecrated. He removed all the remnants of idolatry throughout the land. He re-established the neglected Levitical priesthood, and saw that they were properly compensated for their services. He reformed the upper echelons of government , and thereby brought a great revival throughout the nation.

In fact, The Bible says, “In everything that he undertook in the service of God's temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered” (2 Chronicles 31:21 NIV). See what I mean? He was a good, good man; and a true and righteous king.

And what is the Lord’s response? How does God reward this faithful servant? What does Hezekiah get for all his gallant duty? Simply this -- an invasion of his land by Sennacherib, the dreaded King of Assyria; the single, most feared empire of the day!

And, as far as we can tell, the Lord did nothing to stop Sennacherib. Rather, the Lord actually permitted the invasion and empowered the invaders. But why? I’ll answer that in just a minute.

But first, let me ask you a personal question. Have you ever wanted to cry out to heaven, "Hey, what kind of a deal is this?" Have you ever wondered why your faithful service to God seems often to go unnoticed or unrewarded? Or why, no matter how good you are, bad things just keep happening?

Like David, we often ask, “Why do the wicked prosper?” Indeed, why do they?

And, remember the old campfire song? “Tempted and tried we’re oft made to wonder why it should be thus all the day long. While there are others living about us, never molested though in the wrong.” Exactly. I wonder if Hezekiah may have whistled that tune when Sennacherib showed up with his army.

The song does go on to say, “Further along we’ll know more about it; further along we’ll understand why.” That’s just terrific; kinda gives me a warm fuzzy feeling all over.

OK. So back to my question, Why did God permit and empower Sennacherib to invade Hezekiah’s land? Are you ready for this? Because He was drawing the arrogant King of Assyria into a trap!

And tomorrow we’ll see how the story turns out.


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