If you’d like to join us in our journey reading all the way through the Bible this year, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be glad to email back a copy of the reading plan we are using.
The musical satirist Tom Lehrer wrote a song in the 1960’s about the problem of nuclear proliferation. One verse went like this:
“Egypt’s gonna get one, too,
Just to use on you know who.
So Israel’s getting tense,
Wants one in self defense.
“The Lord’s our shepherd, “
says the psalm,
But just in case,
we better get a bomb!”
But a look at the life and rule of Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles 32-33:9 spell out a different kind of mentality for the Believer. We’ll look at that on today’s edition of Through the Word in 2020. I’m Reid Ferguson.
Our reading today also includes Luke 8:40–56 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12–28. But our focus is on 2 Chronicles.
There came a time in good King Hezekiah’s reign, when the nation came under attack by Assyria. The same Assyria which a good time before had already destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel. Now they had their sights set on Judah.
As was the tactic of the day, the invading party sent messengers to those they planned to attack, to put the case before them that defending themselves was hopeless. A B.C.E. version of the Borg’s “resistance is futile.” Of course, if you can get the populace, or the leadership itself frightened enough, you’ve basically won the war already.
In this case, the challenge took a particular tack. Since the Jews were monotheists believing in only one God, and all the nations around them had many gods, the Assyrians picked on that point. If nations with lots of gods couldn’t resist our power, how can you with one measly little God ever hope to survive. 32:18 puts it succinctly: “They spoke of the God of Jerusalem as they spoke of the gods of the peoples of the earth, which are the work of men’s hands.”
Bad move. We find God unhappy with that challenge and supernaturally defeating the Assyrians before any battle could take place at all.
But what I want to get to is this: When one puts their trust in the saving work of Jesus Christ alone on Calvary – and His substitutionary death for the forgiveness of our sins – we are taking the risk of genuine saving faith. Of putting all our eggs in this singular basket for salvation from the penalty of sin, breaking the power of sin in our lives and one day delivering us from the very presence of sin completely.
We abandon all hope of any kind in our own righteousness, obedience, good works, religion, good intentions, comparison to others who we think are more wicked than ourselves, or anything else. And there will always be the temptation by the Enemy and the flesh to shake our trust in Him alone. To question the sufficiency of the blood of Jesus to pay for all our sin. To doubt His power to sustain us fully to the end. To worry that His Word doesn’t give us enough truth, or His Spirit enough power to fully meet the whole of our need before God.
And at no time is this attack more powerful and convincing, than in the aftermath of failure. When we’ve sinned. When we’ve fallen back from serving and loving Christ and His people as we ought. It is in those moments we can begin to look to other sources to ease our conscience, restore our confidence or fortify us from future failure. But we must resist the impulse, and cast ourselves back on Christ and His finished work alone.
He, is our all sufficient Savior. We rest, we risk everything – our present, and our eternity – on Him alone. That is the only safe place.
So the hymn writer could say:
My hope is built on nothing less,
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.