To Ridicule 

~~MTS-4433
To Ridicule
“The king also wrote letters ridiculing the Lord, the God of Israel, and saying this against him…”        2 Ch. 32:17
    As if Sennacherib had not done quite enough ridicule through his envoys, he wanted to make sure the entire nation of Israel received his message by drafting a letter to Hezekiah. His hatred for the Lord seemed to be so palpable that he intended to shout it from the mountains so that the world might know that he was the greatest, and there was none other, heaven above or earth below, as awesome and great as he.
    Such is the essence of pride, really. Being prideful is a lonely enterprise, for the proud simply cannot tolerate anyone who is equal or superior to him. The arrogant stand alone and forever remain in isolation, for the proud do not like company.
    Why did the Lord bother Sennacherib so much that he went to such a great extent to ridicule and to insult him? The Syrian king obviously was an atheist and he was bringing the existence of the Lord into question; his main contention was the Lord’s lack of power and his inability to save his people from destruction. More importantly, he was the one who was going to cause destruction of all nations on earth; therefore he was greater than all the gods, including the Lord of Israel.
    Such was the deification of King Sennacherib, which became the main cause of his ultimate destruction. The one who tries to rise above himself will sink below, and the persons who are not content to be human turn into beasts. Such is what pride does to all of us.
    “Humility is endless,” wrote Eliot. Why is it so? Because by being humble we come to realize who we really are and accept the fact that all we have ever possessed has been endowed by the Almighty.  Therefore our being will be greatly expanded, since we are connected and united with the infinite God who has no expansion. Contrarily, pride eventually shrinks to nothingness because of its self-absorption and inward turning. Being human, our inner space is rather limited, and it can only be expanded by turning outward and upward.
    Enmity with the Lord is the most dangerous thing of all. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked,” wrote the apostle Paul. Sennacherib might have reckoned himself invincible at the time, but it didn’t take long before he found out who he truly was - a man made of mere flesh. I pray that we will never have such audacity as Sennacherib did, to stand against the Almighty, and to mock him through our words or deeds.    

 

Posted by Robert Sea Friday, October 27, 2017 8:23:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Inability 

~~MTS-4432
Inability
“How then can your god deliver you from my hand?”    2 Ch. 32:14
     Sennacherib was exactly right in his claim, for all the gods to whom the other nations adhered were vanities, who could have done nothing to protect to protect their worshipers. The Syrian king might have sounded rather arrogant, but he had reason to act that way: since all the other gods were nothing, he himself was the god who could cause devastation if he so desired.
    Thus, he asked the Israelites: “How then can your god deliver you from my hand?”
    Surely it made absolutely no sense to Sennacherib that the Israelites put their faith in God, for the Lord appeared to him to be exactly the same as all the useless idols he had come across in his military campaigns over the years. Humanly speaking, the king’s reasoning sounded rather logical and hard to refute.
    Are there other realities beyond the grasp of human perception? If so, what are they? What we have come to know are merely the things what we have perceived to be true through our senses, and anything beyond is result of our speculation, which cannot be and should not be the bases of our knowledge.
    That might have been how the Israelites who were besieged perceived reality, unless they were enabled to look at things by faith, not by sight, believing that even though the reality they were encountering seemed rather hopeless, with the Lord standing by their side, there was always hope.
    Faith in the Lord is a way of seeing, and it takes our entire life time to learn how to see accurately. We are indeed easily beguiled by the way we have been taught to see, which is based on sensual perception. All truth claims, scientific and otherwise, are built on what has been discovered and recognized globally to be true. Layer after layer of truth claims have been added on to the existing ones over the centuries, and it has become an impossibility to bring the foundation of human knowledge into question. Have we ever entertained the likelihood that the cornerstone upon which we have built the pyramid of our knowledge might be erroneous?
    We may claim to be Christians, yet the way we acquire knowledge and perceive reality seems to be no different from those of the world. Obviously, the way Hezekiah perceived reality was entirely different from how Sennacherib did, and the conclusions they drew from a set of similar circumstances was rather dissimilar, and only one of the two would be proven right at the end. They couldn’t have both been right, could they?  

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, October 26, 2017 7:58:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Misleading 

~~MTS-4431
Misleading
“…he is misleading you, to let you die of hunger and thirst.”    2 Ch. 32:11
     It was perfectly rational for Sennacherib to make such an assumption, for he simply could not see the bases behind Hezekiah’s confidence. The Syrians indeed had conquered many nations and he had found out all the other gods had failed to protect their worshippers in time of destruction. His conclusion was easily drawn, because it was based on his previous experiences. He was the conqueror, and all the gods of the nations amounted to nothing.
    Yet the king failed to see the Lord whom the Israelites placed their trust was entirely different from all other deities who went down with the people who paid homage to them. This time, he made a gross miscalculation and was about to pay a steep price for his mistake.
    King Sennacherib was fully assured the victory would automatically be his and he was probably counting the spoils and thinking about in what manner he was going to celebrate his triumph over the Israelites. He was all too human, just like all of us who focus attention on the visible and neglect to take the invisible into calculation. He merely considered the human side of things and forgot to take the divine in account.
    Let’s not lose sight of what the Lord is doing in our lives and learn not to be too eager to assign credit for the things that happen to us to something or someone inappropriate. We need to give credit to whom credit is due, which is always the Lord himself; the rest are mere instruments through whom he accomplishes his purpose.
    I do place a great weight on people’s intelligence when I consider their worth as an individual, which is, of course, a gross mistake. We are created in the image of God, and along with the divine image we possess are all the natural talents with which we are endowed. Not to give the credit to our creator is an ultimate betrayal, robbing the honor and glory that rightly belongs to the Lord.
    At this juncture, what King Hezekiah saw was what the Lord was able to do on his behalf; yet what the Syrian king witnessed was all the false gods’ inability to save their worshippers from ruin, and it was quiet logical for him to come to such a conclusion, which turned out to be a miscalculation.
    Unbeknownst to him, it was actually Sennacherib who was misleading his own people and causing their ultimate demise. The Syrian king was blinded by his arrogance, which caused his final downfall.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, October 24, 2017 6:36:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Confidence 

~~MTS-4430
Confidence
“On what are you basing your confidence, that you remain in Jerusalem under siege?”                    2 Ch. 32:10
    It was impossible for the Syrian king to fathom how in the world the Israelites under siege could remain confident, since it was a matter of time before the inevitable would come. Humanly speaking, the people in the city were hoping against hope, and by pointing it out, the Syrian intended to crush their hope and secure their surrender while they still had the opportunity to do so.
    “On what are you basing your confidence, that you remain in Jerusalem under siege?” the enemy scoffed.
    On what ground did God’s people base their confidence under such dire circumstances? Their military might was rather meager compared to the Syrians, and the grain and water in the city might have been running out and people starting to starve. All things considered, the Israelites had absolutely no reason to be optimistic or confident at all.
    What alternative did the people have? They could always surrender to the enemy and become enslaved the rest of their lives. Was it a good option? Not so, yet at least their lives would be spared. That choice did sound a lot more viable and appealing, didn’t it?
    Such a choice wasn’t necessarily wrong at the time had it been God’s will, yet the Lord intended to perform a mighty deed in their midst, and they were called to wait on the Lord and remain confident in him. Surely we are flesh and blood and can’t help but tremble with fear when our lives are threatened in any way. It was most likely the same way with the Israelites at the time, yet the Lord appeared to have prepared for them a way out and, against all odds, they had to remain confident and continue to trust.
    What if the Lord didn’t come through this time? This nagging thought must have been ever present in people’s minds, which might have robbed them of their joy. Indeed, they were all too human to not have doubts and fears, but to keep on trusting the Lord was a determination they had made and they would hold on to it till the end, for better or for worse.
    Isn’t this the faith of our faith? Whether the Lord comes to our aid or not in time of trouble, we are confident all manners of things will be well, and our predicament will be resolved either here on earth or in heaven hereafter.
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, October 23, 2017 8:15:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Confidence 

~~MTS-4429
Confidence
“And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.”  2 Ch. 32:8
    What we proclaim with our mouths isn’t always what we believe with our head, but what we reckon to be true with our hearts. Something that doesn’t necessarily go against reason, but goes beyond reason. This isn’t really a kind of wish fulfillment kind of thing; it’s rather a statement by faith.
    “For we live by faith, not by sight,” wrote Paul in 2 Corinthians. Sight is located in the realm of reason, but faith resides outside of mere human reason.
    So what else could King Hezekiah have done under the circumstances? Had he operated by sight he would have had lost heart, for from a human point of view, the situation was rather hopeless. Yet by faith he was able to proclaim to the Israelites that they would emerge from the predicament unscathed and victorious. It might have sounded naïve to some, yet the king said the right thing to the people, not necessarily from his head, but from his heart, fortified by his strong faith in the almighty God.
    “I believe; therefore I have spoken,” the apostle wrote in the same epistle.
    Does it really matter that I still harbor some doubt concerning the things that I am about to proclaim? Surely, faith is a matter of the heart more than of the mind and, as Pascal put it: “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing,” I can still speak with boldness, knowing that human reason may fail, but God’s reasoning will never falter.
    Indeed, saying the right thing at the right time is a spiritual discipline that needs to be constantly exercised. In many aspects, the words we utter are reality forming, and we evoke certain things to come into being by our utterance. It’s an act of creation out of something. “The word of the Lord will never return to us void” By the same token, our proclamation based on God’s truth will surely take effect in accordance with God’s sovereign will.
    Consequently, “And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.” There was at the least one thing that the people derived from the king’s proclamation of faith: “The people gained confidence.” And more importantly, the confidence and hope they had gained wasn’t false at all, since it was grounded on God’s faithfulness.
    So no matter how seemingly hopeless the situation may appear to us, we ought to continue to utter words of blessing, encouragement, and hope, not merely based on human wishes, but on God’s goodness and mercy, which is endless. By our utterance of God’s truth, God’s reality is created and revealed. 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, October 19, 2017 7:36:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Arm of Flesh 

~~MTS-4428
Arm of Flesh
“With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”            2 Ch. 32:8
    Surely Christ is able to help us in all things. Only issue remains, though. We are not so sure whether he will come through when we need his help. We don’t normally question his power; the doubt we often have is his love for us.
    It’s really not all that comforting to hear that the Lord has the best intentions for us, and it’s for our good that he does or refrains from doing something for us. God sovereignty invokes fear within our hearts, and he often appears to be so unpredictable and capricious.
    Does the Lord always come to our aid and fight battles on our behalf? This isn’t always the case, is it?
    We have been attempting to figure out a perfect formula so that we can predict the way of the Lord; therefore we can better channel God’s power for our own benefit in time of need, as if the Almighty exists merely for our purposes, not for his own sake.
    Indeed, the Lord will help us and fight our battles, but he will do so purely by his own volition and according to his own time frame. There is very little we can do but to trust him, believing that he has the best intentions for his children.
    We are God’s servants and are beholden to him in all things, not the other way around. We are called to do God’s will, not to force our will on him.
    At this critical juncture, Hezekiah must have been rather desperate, for the Assyrian troops were drawing nearer and nearer and the destruction appeared to be imminent. Looking at the situation from a human point of view, it was rather dire to say the least; yet the king was again reminded that the Lord was still sitting on his throne and he had no other option but to continue to put his trust in him.
    “With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles,” he proclaimed. Such was the affirmation of faith both the king and the Israelites badly needed. Whether they truly believed the validity of their faith or not mattered little as long as they were convicted in their hearts that the Lord was good and his faithfulness would never fail.
    We are indeed terribly myopic if our only desires from the Lord are merely confined to this world, and we are unable to see beyond the boundaries of the temporal and the physical.
                                       
  
       
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, October 18, 2017 7:43:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Greater Power 

~~MTS-4427
Greater Power
“…for there is a greater power with us than with him.”    2 Ch. 32:7
    It seems to be so automatic that we hardly pay any attention to it really. We flip the switch and there is light. We plug something in and the power light turns on. Indeed, we only miss electric power when there is blackout, and instantly forget about it when it comes back on. We hardly ever entertain the idea of how powerless we would become if electric power were to be taken away from us.
    We know something is wrong when there is long line of cars waiting to pump gas. We often drive to a gas station as if we were taking a stroll in the park, and gas flows out from the pump like water gushing out from a faucet. It doesn’t seem that we will ever run out of gas since there has hardly been any shortage for years.
    I have asked many people with expertise how long the world’s crude oil will last, and I have always been told it isn’t anything that I need to be concerned about, since I will be long gone when it finally happens. Yet I can’t help thinking about my children and grandchildren. Surely they won’t be able to function without a source of power.
    Such annoying things don’t usually occupy my thoughts for a very long time, for they are issues for the next generation, and I have my immediate concerns that need to be resolved: I often feel powerless when I am vexed by my weaknesses, be they physical, emotional, or spiritual. It has always been my earnest yearning that I would have sufficient power to overcome whatever challenges that fall my way that keep me from experiencing the abundance of life and the joy that passes all understanding.
    “There is a greater power with us,” uttered the king. How do we turn such power on in our daily lives so that it ceases to be a mere idea, but becomes a concrete reality?
    It’s a matter of putting the idea into practice, I suppose. Our faith in God needs to be exercised constantly for it to grow vibrant and strong. It’s difficult for us to know something is really true when it remains head knowledge only. Much of our biblical knowledge only remains on a surface level and it doesn’t sink into the heart unless we are beaten down and crushed by the weight of trials and suffering.
    The Israelites were about to find out whether Hezekiah’s words were true or not, for the Assyrians were camped outside the city walls, and their attack appeared to be imminent. In times of crisis, their power must have been in short supply and they had no place to turn but the Lord.
    There are hundreds of windmills on both sides of Highway 84 before we hit I-20, and they stand day and night to catch the wind power in the air, reminding us that there is an enormous amount of power both under and above ground, waiting to be accessed and applied. By the same token, the great power that raised Jesus from the dead can also be utilized in our lives if we so desire, and know exactly how to apply it.       
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Tuesday, October 17, 2017 7:30:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Encouragement 

~~MTS-4426
Encouragement
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him…”        2 Ch. 32:7
    We often lose courage because we fear the worst may happen to us. Our imagination tends to run wild conjuring up all the possible implications if the worst were actually to take place. Our courage will fail when we contemplate all the ills that may occur to us in life. We are on the lookout daily for any possible threat and always on high alert for fear to be ambushed unexpectedly.
    Would Lazarus continue to be afflicted by the fear of dying after he was brought back from the jaws of death? The worst had happened to him, and he must have come to realize it wasn’t all that bad after all.
    Death becomes a lot less threatening if we become acquainted with it or have already experienced it. In fact, if we are dead in Christ Jesus, physical death will become much less terrifying, for we have hope of resurrection.
    What causes dread isn’t death itself; what’s excruciating is the period when we are waiting for it to occur. What makes death so unbearable is the waiting part; it feels as if we are a soldier sitting in the trenches, waiting for the horn to sound and for the first shot to be fired.
    The Assyrians were laying a siege outside the city, which might have felt like a deadly tumor that wouldn’t go away. Day and night the threat remained and the worst appeared to be inevitable. How could the Israelites have been encouraged under such dire circumstances?
    “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him…” Did the encouraging words of Hezekiah bring them any comfort at all? What else could the king have done except remind the people to continue to put their trust in the Lord? By faith they would be enabled to believe that the worst wouldn’t be all that bad, even if it were actually to occur.
    What we are dealing with at the present time is reality and what we will be handling in the future remains in the realm of imagination. Actual pain is much easier to deal with than imaginative ones. Certainty is less difficult to handle than mere possibilities, for the difference between the two is one and many, and today is one, tomorrows are many.
    Therefore, the best thing for the Israelites to do at this time of national and personal difficulty was for them to be occupied. The wise king was able to find something for them to do to enhance the situation, and leave the rest to the Lord. If we keep our imagination from running rampant, what we consider the worst may actually be not all that bad.
 
    
  
 
 
  
 
   

 

Posted by Robert Sea Wednesday, October 11, 2017 8:21:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Broken Sections 

~~MTS-4425
Broken Sections
“Then he worked hard repairing all the broken sections of the wall and building towers on it.”          2 Ch. 32:5
    What Hezekiah did first was to cut the water supply for the invaders, and then he repaired the broken sections of the city wall to make it hard for the enemies to breach. Moreover, he erected another wall outside the existing one for double protection. The king and his people didn’t just sit and wait for the inevitable; they did all they could to help themselves. Humanly speaking, what they did to reinforce their defenses might have been all for naught, for the Assyrians were far too formidable and it appeared that there was nothing the Israelites could do to alter the outcome.
    Times of danger are the perfect occasions to exercise our faith and to strengthen our moral fiber. What does not destroy us makes us stronger and the strings of our beings are not broken after they are seemingly stretched beyond our ability to bear, for our knowledge of the Lord will be greatly expanded and extended.
    We may consider things are rosy and fine in times of peace and prosperity; yet when dangers appear, we will be reminded of our infirmities and that there are still a lot of holes to be patched in our defense mechanisms.
    Are there broken sections in our defense system? Can the evil one find a weak link in our city wall in which he can walk to and fro?
    Our broken sections are exactly the spots where Satan gains a foothold and erects his stronghold. From there he constantly launches his strong assault and it never fails to produce his desirable outcome, which is our demise. This is the reason why any type of addiction is so very destruction, for Satan will not let go after he gets a hold of our infirmities, which he can easily turn into our besetting sins.
    Surely we know what and where the broken sections of our spirituality are. Unless we repair them and reinforce them with vigilance and prayer, we will inevitably fail.
    Concerning this, time does not heal anything, and it’s horrifying to ponder that our weaknesses may outlive us and we may depart from the earth with profound sadness and regret. The Assyrians were about to lay siege to the holy city and the future appeared to be rather grim, yet the king appeared to be full of faith and chose to do the most sensible thing at the time, which was to repair the broken sections of the city wall, which served as a protection.
    The threat is looming from afar and the attack will be imminent. Isn’t this the time to act?
           
 

 

Posted by Robert Sea Monday, October 9, 2017 7:21:00 AM Categories: Devotional

An Invasion 

~~MTS-4424
An Invasion
“After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah.”      2 Ch. 32:1
    What more could King Hezekiah have done to win God’s mercy and protection so that no evil would occur to his nation and to himself? Evidently, he didn’t do quite enough, for we read: “After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah.”
    In Hezekiah’s case, faithfulness to the Lord didn’t really pay, did it?
    We should not sell the king short, however, for he might not have done all the right things in order to win God’s favor. He could have done all he had done for the sake of honoring the Lord, without thinking about the reward he could possibly have earned.
    Doing good itself is its own best reward.
    Had the king done evil in the sight of the Lord, Sennacherib might have been employed as an instrument to exact judgment on him; since that wasn’t the case, we read no comment along that line. All we know was the invasion didn’t end badly and, in the midst of such calamity, the Lord did extend his arms to rescue his people from utter destruction.
    There is absolutely no such guarantee in life that if we do A, B will automatically take place. There is a probability that a desirable outcome will happen, but the likelihood of it not occurring is equally great. God’s mystery simply cannot be figured out by human logic, which is exactly the reason why faith in God is completely necessary.
    Did the unfortunate event cause the king to have doubts about God’s faithfulness? For sure it did, for such reaction is quite natural for God’s people to have when reality does not actually gel with one’s beliefs.
    What could the king have done in time of personal and national crisis? Did he start to moan and groan about how the Lord failed to come to his aid in time of trouble? He simply did what should or could have been done to prepare for what was going to happen, trusting that all things would out to be fine at the end.
    I just don’t see any other alterative except to keep on trusting the Lord when things are dire. Hezekiah certainly didn’t lose hope even though all things seemed to be pointing just the opposite.

 

Posted by Robert Sea Thursday, October 5, 2017 7:06:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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