There are two observations/lessons that I take from today’s readings. The first one is as follows (all translations are NLT):
Then Hezekiah encouraged them by saying: 7“Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! 8He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.2 Chronicles 32:6-8
There are those days that I see what is going on in our crazy world and forget Who is on my side. I can get afraid or discouraged at people and events that are happening. All that does is distract me from having an eternal perspective. It also makes me forget just how big God is and how I need to lean in to Him when the world (or even my little piece of it) seems to be spinning out of control.
In the above, the Assyrian army was gathering to invade Jerusalem after having already entered Judah. The people were afraid and felt overwhelmed. King Sennacherib of Assyria was executing psychological warfare on the people of Jerusalem and was mocking them and mocking God Himself.
The words above were the things that the people of Jerusalem needed to hear at that moment. There never was a battle, as God sent an angel to destroy the army:
20Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to God in heaven. 21And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers. So Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace to his own land. And when he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons killed him there with a sword.
22That is how the Lord rescued Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from King Sennacherib of Assyria and from all the others who threatened them. So there was peace throughout the land.2 Chronicles 32:20-21
So, sometimes, the battle isn’t even ours. We need to call out to the Lord and ask for help as that IS our battle and He takes care of the rest.
The second observation/lesson is how just because we may show faith and do the right things and model that for our children, they may not choose to follow. This is a difficult one for me, as I have what I believe is a prodigal son in my oldest son, Thomas. The Bible has many stories of people like me, who didn’t come from a home where faith was modeled, yet who had great faith. There are also stories of people who came out of great families of faith who decided to go the opposite way. Two examples are below.
1Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 2He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the Lord had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites. 3He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had broken down. He constructed altars for the images of Baal and set up Asherah poles. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them.
2 Chronicles 33:1-3
It isn’t like Manasseh hadn’t witnessed the great things his father had done, but maybe he was too young to fully understand what had been done and he likely hadn’t lived through the crucible above. I think when life is good and there is peace and comfort, it can make people drift away from God as they forget what has truly brought the peace and prosperity.
It takes serious trouble to bring about a galvanized faith. Until I was 30, I was not a Christian. I never believed that there wasn’t a God, but I just never knew really who Jesus was and is and just had no interest in Christianity because I was “good enough.” Maybe Manasseh was there – he just didn’t think it was important and people got in his ear at a young, impressionable age to rebuild the pagan shrines. Clearly, there were still people in that culture who didn’t believe in God and wanted to worship their idols, despite witnessing the peace and prosperity under King Hezekiah.
Much like me, it took incredibly difficult times in Manasseh’s life for God to be invited into his life.
10The Lord spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings. 11So the Lord sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon. 12But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the Lord his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors. 13And when he prayed, the Lord listened to him and was moved by his request. So the Lord brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the Lord alone is God!2 Chronicles 33:10-13
I still remember the week I professed my faith in Jesus. It was literally during one of the lowest times in my life. I was ashamed, disappointed, and hopeless. I am not sure I cried out to God, but He sure showed up in a big way in my life and saved my life and my marriage.
I think often that when we have it too good, that we forget why we have it so good. It is all because God has chosen that time for us. Then, it takes those moments when things aren’t so good where God is acting as the silversmith and scooping the impurities off the top until He sees His reflection in us. It isn’t pleasant, but it is often necessary.
I am praying that Thomas becomes Manasseh and that his crucible moment(s) aren’t too bad. God has shown me some of his future and I know it is bright. Even though it looks dark right now, I am hopeful and expecting great things for Thomas.
I am also praying for Thomas’s offspring, if God chooses to bless him, as I don’t want them to end up like Manasseh’s son:
21Amon was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem two years. 22He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Manasseh, had done. He worshiped and sacrificed to all the idols his father had made. 23But unlike his father, he did not humble himself before the Lord. Instead, Amon sinned even more.
24Then Amon’s own officials conspired against him and assassinated him in his palace. 25But the people of the land killed all those who had conspired against King Amon, and they made his son Josiah the next king.2 Chronicles 33:21-23
In tying all of this together, I am seeing that I need to make sure I am remembering Who is in charge at all times, that I am praising Him, and modeling the right behavior. I need to encourage others that the Lord is near and we are not being forsaken and that everything happens for a reason (Romans 8:28). I need to continually pray for both of our boys so that they are protected and so that God calls both of them to be the men they are designed to be. I cannot be complacent with these lessons, as none of us know when our final day is here nor do we know when THE final day is upon us. So, we need to be mindful daily of Whose we are and be encouraging those that have been placed in front of us that God is near to all of us.
Dear Lord, I am humbled when I read your word. You have shown your mighty power in so many ways in Your recorded word. We can see it in our own lives, yet sometimes we so easily get distracted from Your majesty and how incredible you are. Lord, let us never forget that you are firmly in control and that everything happens for a reason. Help us to do everything we can to make sure that the ones coming after us in our families follow You. None of this is easy, but with You, all things are possible.
In Jesus’s might name I pray, Amen.