Trust in God.
2 Kings 17-18, Galatians 5
On what do you rest this trust of yours? – 2 Kings 18:19 ESV
When everything seems to be falling apart around you, where do you place your trust? Where do turn to for help and hope? It is in the darkest moments of our lives that we truly discover where our trust really lies. And it is in those moments that the enemy surrounds us and taunts us to give up. He tries to cause us to despair and dismiss any notion we may have of rescue by the hand of God as ill-placed and unfounded. Hezekiah, the king of Judah, found himself facing just such a circumstance. The northern kingdom of Israel had already fallen, with the people of Israel having been taken captive and exiled to the land of Assyria. Now King Sennacharib’s armies stood outside the walls of Jerusalem demanding that the nation of Judah surrender. King Hezekiah was a good king who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done” (2 Kings 18:3 ESV). “He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, not among those who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord” (2 Kings 18:5-6 ESV). Hezekiah enjoyed the favor of God and his reign was marked by success. But the day came when the enemy came against him. The same mighty army of Assyria that had defeated Israel was not outside his walls demanding tribute. Hezekiahttp://www.ccbcfamily.org/wp-admin/post-new.phph would respond by ransacking the temple, even stripping the gold from the doors, in an attempt to appease Sennacharib and buy himself some time. But the Assyrians were not satisfied. They wanted surrender. So Sennacharib sent emissaries to demand the complete capitulation of Judah. Their message to the people of Judah has a familiar ring to it. It is the same one we hear whispered in our ears by the enemy as we face the dark moments of our own lives.
“Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’” (2 Kings 18:29-35 ESV).
What does this passage reveal about God?
It’s that old familiar refrain: Will God really deliver you? Hezekiah’s enemy taunted him and mocked him, even speaking directly to the people, demanding that they look at their circumstances realistically. Had any other nation’s gods been able to stop the army of Assyria. Hadn’t they seen what had happened to their brothers in Israel? What chance did they have against the power of King Sennacharib? Their fate was sealed. The outcome was obvious. The best thing to do was surrender and make peace with the enemy. They even promised “a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die” (2 Kings 18:32 ESV). All they had to do was refuse to trust God and make peace with the enemy, and their lives would be dramatically better off, their circumstances would dramatically improve overnight. But chapter 18 starts off with the reminder that Hezekiah trusted God. He held fast to the Lord. Now that trust was being tested. His grip on God was going to be strained as the forces of evil pulled against him, attempting to let go and give in to what appeared to be the inevitable. The enemy was taunting Hezekiah. Now he had to make a decision as to what he would do. How would he respond? The circumstances could not have been any worse. The situation facing Hezekiah could not have been bleaker. But his God had not changed. His source of strength and power had not left him. God was still in control. He was still present, even though things looked dark and desperate.
What does this passage reveal about man?
Hezekiah was a rare breed in those days. He was a king of Judah who actually loved and obeyed his God. He was faithful and obedient. He was God-fearing and law-abiding. But he still had enemies. He still had to face difficult circumstances. Hezekiah still had to fight against the likes of the Assyrians and the Philistines. He had to sit back and watch as the Assyrians besieged Samaria for three years and then finally defeated the nation of Israel, sending the people of God into permanent exile. He had to wonder about his own fate. He knew the people of Judah had a long history of unfaithfulness and disobedience to God. He was well aware that of their track record of idolatry and spiritual infidelity. There was the constant temptation to take matters into his own hands and solve his problems his own way. There was always the option to turn to another nation like Egypt for help. Even the Assyrians knew about this potential plan B, and warned Hezekiah, “Behold, you are trusting now in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him” (2 Kings 18:21 ESV). There will always be seemingly viable options to whatever predicament we face. But the real test is whether or not we will trust God. Even Hezekiah panicked and turned to the treasury of the temple to provide him with a solution to his problem. Rather than trust the God who dwelt in the temple, he turned to the gold and silver that adorned the temple. But at the end of the day, the question remained the same, “On what do you rest this trust of yours?” Hezekiah was going to have to make a choice. He was going to have to trust in God or place his trust in something or someone else. Or he was going to have to listen to the lies of the enemy and assume that he would be better off giving up than holding on to God.
How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?
This scenario goes on regularly in the life of every believer. Our situation may not be as dark and foreboding, but the reality is that every one of us faces times in which we have to decide “On what do you rest this trust of yours?” Paul reminds us that it is at those times a battle rages inside us. “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do” (Galatians 5:17 ESV). In times of difficulty, the Spirit will speak to our hearts, reminding us of the love, power and abiding presence of God. He will attempt to restore our faith in God and fill us with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But our flesh will rise up inside us, causing us to doubt the goodness and greatness of God. Our sin nature will speak to us much as the emissaries of Sennacharib did, tempting us to doubt God’s faithfulness. But if we listen to our flesh, the results will always be devastatingly destructive. Paul tells us, “the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,envy,drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Galatians 5:19-21 ESV). If we let our sin nature make our decisions for us, we will place our trust in the wrong thing. We will lose our grip on God and miss out on an opportunity to watch Him work in our lives. Hezekiah was faced with a choice. Perhaps you are faced with a similar choice today. Maybe you need to ask yourself the question, “On what do you rest this trust of yours?” Is your God big enough? Is your grip on Him tight enough? Is your trust in Him solid enough? The problem lies not with God, but with us.
Father, I want to trust You more. You have never given me a reason NOT to trust You. The fact that I sometimes face difficult situations is not an indication of Your weakness or absence in my life. You are there. You’re always there. My circumstances are simply opportunities to watch You work and to test the strength of my trust in You. May I always be able to answer the question, “On what do you rest this trust of yours?” with the simple words, “My God!”åç Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men