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‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it’ (Psalm 24:1). Repeat this verse prayerfully until its truth begins to settle in your mind and shape your thoughts.

Posted: May 21, 2019, 8:13 am
Isaiah Prophesies Sennacherib's Fall
 20 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria. 21 This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him:
       " 'The Virgin Daughter of Zion
       despises you and mocks you.
       The Daughter of Jerusalem
       tosses her head as you flee.

 22 Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed?
       Against whom have you raised your voice
       and lifted your eyes in pride?
       Against the Holy One of Israel!

 23 By your messengers
       you have heaped insults on the Lord.
       And you have said,
       "With my many chariots
       I have ascended the heights of the mountains,
       the utmost heights of Lebanon.
       I have cut down its tallest cedars,
       the choicest of its pines.
       I have reached its remotest parts,
       the finest of its forests.

 24 I have dug wells in foreign lands
       and drunk the water there.
       With the soles of my feet
       I have dried up all the streams of Egypt."

 25 " 'Have you not heard?
       Long ago I ordained it.
       In days of old I planned it;
       now I have brought it to pass,
       that you have turned fortified cities
       into piles of stone.

 26 Their people, drained of power,
       are dismayed and put to shame.
       They are like plants in the field,
       like tender green shoots,
       like grass sprouting on the roof,
       scorched before it grows up.

 27 " 'But I know where you stay
       and when you come and go
       and how you rage against me.

 28 Because you rage against me
       and your insolence has reached my ears,
       I will put my hook in your nose
       and my bit in your mouth,
       and I will make you return
       by the way you came.'

 29 "This will be the sign for you, O Hezekiah:
       "This year you will eat what grows by itself,
       and the second year what springs from that.
       But in the third year sow and reap,
       plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

 30 Once more a remnant of the house of Judah
       will take root below and bear fruit above.

 31 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,
       and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.
      The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

 32 "Therefore this is what the LORD says concerning the king of Assyria:
       "He will not enter this city
       or shoot an arrow here.
       He will not come before it with shield
       or build a siege ramp against it.

 33 By the way that he came he will return;
       he will not enter this city,
       declares the LORD.

 34 I will defend this city and save it,
       for my sake and for the sake of David my servant."

 35 That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.

 37 One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer cut him down with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.

Posted: May 21, 2019, 8:12 am

God cares
If we ever doubt whether God cares and is involved in the world, we should reflect on 2 Kings 19. The Lord hears not only the prayers of his people (v 20), he also hears the blasphemies and boasts of those who defy him (vs 6,22,23).

My way
Sennacherib thought he reigned supreme: his military might had brought him a vast empire and immense influence (vs 11,23). Sennacherib would probably choose ‘I did it my way’ at a karaoke night! God says otherwise (v 25).

Judged accordingly
Any power or influence an individual or a nation has is given to them by God (see John 19:10,11) and they will be judged according to how they have exercised that authority and power (v 27). God’s judgement on Assyria was to treat them the way they had treated others (v 28).

Confidence and hope
What God determines (vs 7,32–37), he carries out (vs 36,37). It is God who determines the shape of history. How might this give you confidence and hope when you hear or read the news? How might this truth shape your prayers for world leaders?

Penny Boshoff
Posted: May 21, 2019, 8:11 am

Listen to a news broadcast, or read the latest news updates with verse 27 in mind. Pray for world leaders to use the power that God has given them wisely and with humility.

Posted: May 21, 2019, 8:10 am

When we find ourselves in difficulty, questions arise. Is this God’s punishment for some sin in our lives? Are we being tested? Was it random chance? Why did God allow it? Discernment is often difficult. Sometimes there is no clear answer, even in retrospect. However, we can take encouragement from today’s reading, affirming God’s sovereignty.

First, God responds to his people’s prayer, as he did to Hezekiah’s (v 20). Those who seek him will find him, the person of God, even when answers elude them. Second, God will vindicate their trust in him. Like Assyria, who belittled the true God (v 22), some may mock Christians for their naivety in expecting God to act on their behalf, but the Lord always honours our trust in him. Third, God affirms his sovereignty over the past. Assyria could only subdue nations because God had ordained it (v 25). Given Assyria’s cruelty this may be troubling, but elsewhere it is explained that it acted on its own initiative and will be held responsible for its cruelty even though God used it for his own purposes (Isa 10:5–7). Finally, God is sovereign over the future too: he tells Hezekiah how events will unfold (vs 32–34) and brings them about (vs 35–37).

Faith is essential, because there are alternative interpretations of events and the resolution is still in the future. It is only by faith that we know that God is sovereign over Assyria’s past victories: rather than Assyria being stronger than the gods of the subdued nations. It is also by faith that we are assured of a future in God’s hands. Although Hezekiah is given a sign (vs 29–31), this is not proof in advance but affirmation in retrospect that in the hard times God was present and working for the good of his people.

Lord, may we remember daily that our circumstances are not beyond your control. May we rest in your sovereignty and love for us. 

Csilla Saysell
Posted: May 21, 2019, 8:09 am
Read the Bible in a year.

1 Kings 10,11

1 Corinthians 13
Posted: May 21, 2019, 8:08 am

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Posted: May 21, 2019, 8:07 am

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Posted: May 21, 2019, 8:06 am

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