Today is our fourth Sunday of Lent and we are 26 days in. As we continue our theme of the Tables being turned on our enemies, we will be looking at a passage so important it is told three times in Kings, Chronicles and Isaiah. We read part of this account of God saving His people in our scripture reading earlier. I trust that this journey we are taking will help you see how important it is to remain obedient but also see the power that is available to all who believe. There is a direct correlation with our obedience and defeating our enemies. The problem we are facing is that the church has strayed so far from God’s word they no longer know what truth is. Many in the church are errant (straying from the right course) when they say the death and resurrection of Jesus covers our sins. The truth is that is the plan of salvation but we must adhere to the plan, which starts with being cut to the heart and repentance. Belief then leads to the plan being fulfilled but all this has to be done in the power of the Holy Spirit. Many people believe but it is not the plan as laid out in the bible. The plan of salvation always includes power. We see this power when Peter was preaching in Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”
This is the plan of salvation in action. 1 John 3:8 “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” Acts 26:17 “I am sending you to them 18 to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” We then go out in the power of the Holy Spirit and do the same as Jesus commanded us but we must be clothed with His power. He entrusted his power to his disciples. Matthew 10:1 “Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness. 7 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” The above verse in Acts reminds us who Peter was before Pentecost and who he was after. Before he was a coward but after he preached with fire, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Now if you believe the doctrines of demons, then it will only be these twelve and those they free and Paul. NOT! Are you not also a disciple but you only get to go to church? Do you actually believe that a form of godliness that denies the power is the way the truth and the life. The Holy Spirit did not just come so that these few would have power and the rest of us left powerless. Say it with me. That's the stupidest thing I have ever heard! Why because this is not what the bible says. This teaching is a war of deceit against the power of God’s word. Even stupider is the belief that going to church and calling yourself a Christian is all you need to do. Say a little prayer and be filled with the Holy Spirit and secure for eternity. This is not going to happen if God has turned his face from us.
Having said that, as we turn back we will once again see God’s power at work. It will once again look like the early church moving under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. 1 Kings 8:47 “if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; 48 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; 49 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” Malachi 3:7 “Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.” Returning to God is our only hope to defeat our enemies and be freed from captivity. This also means we must adhere to God’s word and trust God to carry out his plan but the plan must be carried out in the power of the Holy Spirit. If we do not trust him, we become like the Israelites who 2 Kings 17:14 “would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the LORD their God.”
The opposite of not trusting is obviously trusting. 1 Chronicles 5:20 “They were helped in fighting them, and God delivered the Hagrites and all their allies into their hands, because they cried out to him during the battle. He answered their prayers, because they trusted in him.” Even though these men were highly trained they still called out to God, as they knew where their strength came from. Psalm 121:2 “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” The plan of salvation does not happen without obedience to God’s word. That means we must continue to call out to God. We can never forget this. We were warned in Deuteronomy 8:10 “When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. 19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.”
Our enemies have been defeating us because we have forgotten to carefully observe God’s commands. Because of this we cannot stand against our enemies. His commands have been replaced or tweaked, added to and subtracted from. Man doctrines and theology mixed with doctrines of demons have brought desolation to the church yet the church carries on as if they are actually on track but they do not repent from their wicked ways. They refuse to turn from their own ways. So God still says Isaiah 1:5 “When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.” This chapter starts off with Isaiah 1:2 “Hear me, you heavens! Listen, earth! For the LORD has spoken: “I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. 3 The ox knows its master, the donkey its owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” 4 Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.” We are in the same position. We are at war with a vast army but as Paul reminds us Ephesians 6:12 (ASV) “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers (principalities), against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” If we were able to see around us, we would see that we are surrounded and being defeated. Generations that have gone before have been defeated. Even though those who have gone before us have not acted in accordance with God’s word and handed down an empty way of life, we are asking God Psalm 79:8 “not to hold against us the sins of past generations; may your mercy come quickly to meet us, for we are in desperate need. 9 Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. 10 Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Day after day Hosea 4:6 “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”
Now I really want you to have a picture to describe what is happening to us. These are days of great deception so it is not readily seen. Its like staring at a Stereogram and then an image appears. “The hidden content can only be seen when viewed from the proper visual and mental perspective.” In our case it is a spiritual perspective. As we dig deep into the word of God we see the deception as God opens our eyes to it. The church is as Jesus describes it, is a white washed sepulcher. Not exactly what it seems as there is death inside. The enemy is circling like ravenous wolves waiting to devour us. The enemy comes in all forms so watch out. Matthew 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. Peter goes on to describe the enemy. 1 Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” To take this to another depth, David talks about his own situation but he is also prophesying about Jesus also. I want you to picture yourself in these verses and hopefully we will understand how desolate our situation is and the picture will become clear to you. The enemy just isn’t mocking and ridiculing you and I, the enemy wants to tear us to shreds. Before I read these think back to the song just before the sermon. The last part said over and over “You will not fail us, Word of God.” If you want to follow along I am reading Psalm 22:1-31
So now that you have a picture of how critical our situation is, in your mind let me include one more picture that will show you even more how dire our condition is and then we will get to King Hezekiah. The king of Aram was at war with Israel and let’s just say Elisha was reading the kings mail. Time and again he warned the King of Israel of Aram’s plans. Obviously the King of Aram was upset. He accused his men of being traitors and they responded 2 Kings 6:2 “None of us, my lord the king,” said one of his officers, “but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.” 13 “Go, find out where he is,” the king ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back: “He is in Dothan.” 14 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city. 15 When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked. 16 “Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. 17 And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
So when you wake in the morning and go to bed at night hold on to the promise God gave David and trust in his word. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Now Hezekiah was about to face the attack of his life. During his reign Israel fell to the Assyrians. 2 Kings 19:11 “The king of Assyria deported Israel to Assyria. 12 This happened because they had not obeyed the Lord their God, but had violated his covenant—all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded. They neither listened to the commands nor carried them out.” 2 Kings 17:7 “All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 13 The Lord warned Israel and Judah through all his prophets and seers: “Turn from your evil ways. Observe my commands and decrees, in accordance with the entire Law that I commanded your ancestors to obey and that I delivered to you through my servants the prophets.” 14 But they would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God.” Hezekiah on the other hand trusted God. 2 Kings 18:5 “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.” Then the King of Assyria turned his forces on Hezekiah at Jerusalem. He sent a field commander to speak to them. He said “This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours? 20 You say you have the counsel and the might for war—but you speak only empty words. 28 Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! 29 This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand. 30 Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord when he says, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.”
Then hear how the enemy always tries to distort the word of God. When Israel was about to take the land in the first place there was a rebellion of Korah and his followers. Numbers 16:12 “Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We will not come! 13 Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? And now you also want to lord it over us! 14 Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you want to treat these men like slaves?” Then the commander said, 2 Kings 18:31 “Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own cistern, 32 until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death!” “Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us. 35 Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?” Remember this is all spoken in their own language. So they went to Isaiah. 3 They told him, “This is what Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. 4 It may be that the Lord your God will hear all the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the Lord your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives.” Isaiah then responds 6 Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’”
So Sennacherib sent messengers once again and said, “10 “Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.’ 11 Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? 12 Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my predecessors deliver them?” So then King Hezekiah does what the church today refuses to do, he bows before the Lord. This is the prayer we have been praying as the enemy who surrounds will soon see. 14 Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. 17 It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”
Now you already know part of the answer we read in our scripture reading but here are the results. The ones who mocked Lord God Almighty would now find out who God was. “22 Who is it you have ridiculed 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 ridiculed the Lord.” He was not a wooden or stone god but the Living God. Now please understand if you are being mocked the enemies who mock you and I will soon see the power of the almighty God. It is not you they mock and ridicule, it is the Lord God Almighty. When Jesus sent out the seventy two he said, Luke 10:16 “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Matthew 10:24 “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household! 26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” 2 Samuel 12:12 “You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.” 1 Samuel 3:11 “And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.” As they mocked Job and David and provoked Hannah and despised Joseph in bitterness they will stand guilty before the Almighty God. 2 Samuel 22:1 “David sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. 2 He said: “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; 3 my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent people you save me. 4 “I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies. 5 The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 6 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. 7 “In my distress I called to the LORD; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears. 8 The earth trembled and quaked, the foundations of the heavens shook; they trembled because he was angry. 9 Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. 10 He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. 11 He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. 12 He made darkness his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky. 13 Out of the brightness of his presence bolts of lightning blazed forth. 14 The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. 15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. 16 The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the LORD, at the blast of breath from his nostrils. 17 “He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. 18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. 19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. 20 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. 47 “The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Savior! 48 He is the God who avenges me, who puts the nations under me, 49 who sets me free from my enemies. You exalted me above my foes; from a violent man you rescued me. 50 Therefore I will praise you, LORD, among the nations; I will sing the praises of your name. 51 “He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever.”
Before I read this last part please understand that the power of Isaiah’s response is available to us who believe also. He spoke the word of the Lord not only to Hezekiah but to us also. His response applies to us and there will be a remnant as God has promised. When Elijah thought he was all alone, Paul said in Romans 11:2 “Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4 And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. Isaiah continued with his answer to Hezekiah and said 2 Kings19:30 “Once more a remnant of the kingdom 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 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 Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.”
You see we don’t have to worry about those against. God says about them, 2 Kings 19:27 “ ‘But I know where you are and when you come and go and how you rage against me.” So do not be discouraged if the enemy rages against you. Do not be afraid of those who think they have triumphed over you but trust in the Lord and he will set you free. As David said those who say Aha! Aha! will be turned back in shame. Isaiah 41:8 “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, 9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. 10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 11 “All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. 12 Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all. 13 For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. 14 Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. 15 “See, I will make you into a threshing sledge, new and sharp, with many teeth. You will thresh the mountains and crush them, and reduce the hills to chaff. 16 You will winnow them, the wind will pick them up, and a gale will blow them away. But you will rejoice in the LORD and glory in the Holy One of Israel.
Though they mocked and ridiculed and murdered Jesus Christ our Savior, know that he is the fulfillment to David’s promise and because of Jesus the promises to Abraham and David apply to us today but again there is only a remnant of people who have not bowed a knee to a false gospel. There is only a remnant who will humble themselves and turn and repent of their wicked ways. So though the enemy encircles us know in your heart that “Once more a remnant of the kingdom 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. “ I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”