Provision on Every Side

from Lynda Lindsey

After these things and these acts of faithfulness (of Hezekiah), Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself.  II Chronicles 32:1

Hezekiah to his people: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight out battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. II Chronicles 32:7-8

So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and He provided for them on every side. II Chronicles 32:22

During the time the northern kingdom of Israel was taken into Assyrian exile because she neither listened to or obeyed God, Judah’s king Hezekiah trusted God and remained faithful to Him. Aside from a lapse in faith when Hezekiah attempted, and failed, to appease the Assyrians with gold and silver, Hezekiah refused to surrender to the enemy. The Assyrians, masters of intimidation, mocked and reviled God, promoted distrust, and cast doubt and aspersion on God, God’s promises, and the competency of Judah’s leaders, but Hezekiah relied on the Lord to defend and save Jerusalem.

Hezekiah’s strong faith, his willingness to pray, to seek God’s and Isaiah’s counsel, and his willingness to obey God’s direction ensured victory in the battle. Hezekiah remained faithful even as the enemy taunted Hezekiah with the question, “Shall you be delivered?” Hezekiah knew the answer. God is the true provider on every side. God, our sure and strong defense, will deliver and save His people! Hezekiah inspired and encouraged Judah to not be afraid, reminding them that the enemy fights only with the arm of flesh, but God is with His people and fights their battles for them.

The enemy’s strategy is to create confusion, to spread doubt and fear so that we surrender without a fight. If both leaders and followers doubt the leaders’ capability to lead, and everyone doubts God, the enemy’s victory is assured. Absolute, rock-solid faith is key. Know God! Know His Word, His character. Be strong and courageous. Refuse fear; refuse to be dismayed. See with eyes of faith; there are more on our side than it appears. We don’t fight in the flesh; God, our provision, fights for us on every side. Answer the taunt, “Shall you be delivered?” with a resounding, “Yea and amen!”

Open Wide the Doors

from Lynda Lindsey

In the first year of his reign, in the first month, he (Hezekiah) opened the doors of the house of the Lord and repaired them. II Chronicles 29:3    “Hear me, Levites! Now consecrate yourselves, and consecrate the house of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the Holy Place.  …My sons, do not now be negligent, for the Lord has chosen you to stand in His presence, to minister to Him and to be HIs ministers and make offerings to Him.” II Chronicles 29:5; 11

He (Hezekiah) trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel… For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following Him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. II Kings 18:5(a); 6-7(a)

Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! …The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory! Psalm 25:7-8;10(b)

Judah’s king Ahaz, known for his faithlessness and his evil deeds, was more evil than the wicked kings of the northern kingdom; when distressed, Ahaz became yet more faithless to the Lord. After Ahaz died, his son Hezekiah reigned; Hezekiah, unlike his father, did what was right in the eyes of the Lord as David had done. In the first month of his reign, Hezekiah opened the doors of the Lord’s house and began repairing and cleansing the temple and organizing the priests and Levites in preparation for proper worship. The temple was in such disarray, it took two weeks just to carry out the filth.

Hezekiah reminded the priests and Levites of their chosen status and charged God’s ministers to be faithful, diligent workers. Open the doors, carry out the filth, banish the darkness, relight the lamps, cleanse God’s altar, reinstitute the sacrifices of God, for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Make ready for the Lord’s presence, work together, help each other with willing hearts and hands, until the work is finished; then open wide the gates, rejoice and worship God, the Lord of hosts, the King of glory, the strong and mighty One, that He may come in and be lifted up!

Jesus, the King of glory, shed His blood to atone for sin. Listen! Hear Him knocking? Hear His voice? Open up doors, hearts, and gates that have withstood Him and let the King of glory in! Let the Lord, strong and mighty to save, enter in! It is He that cleanses our filth, repairs the damage, and restores life to the lifeless. It is the Lord that banishes darkness, sheds light in our heart and on our path and guarantees to finish the work He begins. Like Hezekiah, hold fast to the Lord and do not depart from the Lord’s ways. Obedience to the Lord leads to spiritual blessing; open wide the doors!

We Don’t Get to Write the Script

from Lynda Lindsey

Therefore the king of Assyria shut him (Hoshea, King of Israel) up and bound him in prison. Then the king of Assyria invaded all the land and came to Samaria, and for three years he besieged it. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria… II Kings 17:4(b)-6(a)

And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the Lord drove out before the people of Israel…  And the people of Israel did secretly against the Lord their God things that were not right.  II Kings 17:7-8(a); 9(a)

Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments and My statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by My servants the prophets.” But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God. II Kings 17:13-14

The Israelites prided themselves on sinning in secret; foolishly they thought they could deceive God by concealing their sins. Like small children “hiding” under a blanket with their faces covered, their feet sticking out underneath in plain sight, the Israelites provoked God to anger by doing as they pleased. The Israelites indulged, even reveled, in sin and wickedness. Desiring God, not on His terms, but their own, they rewrote God’s script. God sent prophets and seers to call the nation to repent and return to their first love but the Israelites refused to heed God’s warnings.

The Israelites despised and abandoned God to walk in the sinful ways of the nations around them, the very nations and ways from which God had rescued them. But God is not mocked; He doesn’t wink at sin and look away. Stubbornly, just as their forefathers had done, they did not believe in the Lord their God. How the surrounding pagan nations must have gloated, how they must have mocked, when Assyria chained the Israelites together with mouth hooks and marched them, humiliated and naked, into captivity.  How God, who loves with an everlasting love, must have sorrowed.

Israel elected to rewrite God’s script; instead of wholehearted pursuit of God, Israel defiantly chose wholehearted pursuit of sin. Israel continually spurned God’s offers of repentance until God finally gave His people over to serve their dishonorable passions. Israel, once God’s crowning glory, was laid low. Israel’s last king is tragically remembered as being evil, but not as evil as his predecessors. How will we be remembered? As a script re-writer or as a faithful, loyal, follower of Jesus? As one who serves our ungodly passions or one who serves Christ?

The Dangers of Smooth Talk

from Lynda Lindsey

For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 30:9-11

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” But you were unwilling. Isaiah 30:15

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him. For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as He hears it, He answers you. Isaiah 30:18-19

Judah, unwilling to hear God’s instructions, preferred illusions to facts and lying, smooth talk to truth. Like children who clap their hands over their ears and eyes when faced with disagreeable choices, Judah stubbornly refused to believe and obey God. Adding sin to sin, Judah made plans to ally with Egypt, seeking Pharaoh’s protection and shelter. Refusing to ask the Lord for direction, spurning God’s counsel, and relying on Egyptian horses and chariots for strength in battle, Judah willingly turned aside from truth, and in so doing, forfeited the Spirit’s guidance, protection and shelter.

Vast differences exist between our rebellious sin nature and God’s willingness to save. The Holy One of Israel consistently and graciously offers us salvation, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” God, with great patience, waits to show His children mercy and to shower His children with love.   God, a God of justice, waits to bless all who wait for Him with quiet, repentant hearts. God yearns to wipe away our tears; the minute we cry out to Him, He hears and answers us, rescuing us from sin and death.

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help; woe to those who rely on horses and chariots simply because the chariots are many and strong. Disobeying God to follow selfish desires is always wrong, no matter how persuasive popular opinion may be or how loud the enemy’s voice may clamor. We cannot hear God, nor heed His counsel, while actively choosing disobedience. Beware the smooth talkers, those whose glib tongues charm. Don’t be deceived by the enemy’s flippant, smooth promises. Spiritual shortcuts are dangerous; reject sin’s cacophony in favor of God’s still, quiet voice.

One By One, Threshed and Gleaned

from Lynda Lindsey

In that day from the river Euphrates to the brook of Egypt the Lord will thresh out the grain, and you will be gleaned one by one, O people of Israel. And in that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem. Isaiah 27:12-13

In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of His people, and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. Isaiah 28:5-6

Therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation…” Isaiah 28:16(a)

God designed the Israelites to be His crowning glory among the surrounding nations, but sin defiled and tarnished God’s people. Isaiah mourned that Samaria, once a crown jewel of the northern kingdom, now dissolute and degenerate, would soon be cut off and cast down, trampled underfoot and swallowed by Assyria. Judah, the glory of the southern kingdom, also lost in debauchery and sin, would ultimately be taken into Babylonian captivity. Even so, God, a just and fair Sovereign, would save and rule over a remnant of His people, for Messiah’s crown is an everlasting, glorious diadem.

The Lord’s remnant would be threshed out and gleaned, one by one, gathered up like sheaves and brought back from exile into God’s presence; God would once again do marvelous and wonderful things with His purified people. No longer overcome by sin, no longer speaking warm words about God with cold hearts, no longer mocking God’s instruction, God’s people would once again be taught of the Lord, precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little, being rightly instructed and offering praise and thanksgiving to God.

God is trustworthy; look to Him in hope. The lost shall be saved, the deaf shall hear, the blind shall see, and the meek shall obtain fresh joy, for in that day there will be no more deception; no longer will people scoff and take refuge in lies. Messiah, the foundation laid in Zion, a tested and precious cornerstone, is the sure foundation, the only trustworthy foundation on which to build our lives. He is straight and true; His plumb lines are justice and righteousness. The Lord will arise and accomplish all His purposes. He gathers up and brings in His people in His perfect timing. Be ready!

God Brings the Increase, Enlarges the Borders

From Lynda Lindsey

But You have increased the nation, O Lord, You have increased the nation; You are glorified; You have enlarged all the borders of the land. Isaiah 26:15

In that day, “A pleasant vineyard, sing of it! I, the Lord, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest anyone punish it, I keep it night and day. ... Or let them lay hold of My protection, let them make peace with Me, let them make peace with me.” In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit. Isaiah 27:2-3; 5-6

In that day the Lord of hosts will be a crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the remnant of His people, and a spirit of justice to him who sits in judgment, and strength to those who turn back the battle at the gate. Isaiah 28:5-6

God’s people, continual witnesses of God’s goodness and kindness, had been given countless opportunities to remain faithful, yet they rebuffed God. Their hearts, grown cold and hard through compromise, followed their own pursuits. Isaiah’s challenge is ours today: forsake sin, repent, turn back to the Lord and His righteousness. Contrary to the enemy’s lies, sin doesn’t expand and make our life better; sin shrinks our borders. The way of the Lord is the only way of spiritual increase; only the Lord can enlarge and expand our life beyond the narrowness of sin.

Just as ancient cities were entered through a gate set into an encircling wall of protection surrounding the city, we enter a relationship with Christ, the only way of salvation, by faith. Jesus opened the doors that we, through faith, may enter into His presence. He encircles and protects us; He keeps us secure within His stronghold. Trusting Jesus’ shed blood to save us from the penalty of sin results in peace with God and He keeps us in perfect peace as we fix our mind on HIm. God sets our feet on the solid, everlasting Rock of Christ, calls us righteous, and makes our paths level.

Like a well-watered, well-tended vine, our spiritual roots grow deep. God, the vineyard keeper, brings the increase; we flourish and bear fruit. When the enemy batters against the gate demanding entrance, we withstand his lies in the Lord’s strength. Following our selfish desires accomplishes nothing. God alone births righteousness, life and light in us; it is His life flowing through us that makes us sing for joy! Remember the past, consider the future, and fight the good fight of faith. Forsake sin, lay hold of God’s protection and watch God enlarge and expand your life beyond sin’s narrowness!