The Sennacherib Challenge
“What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power”(Is 36:20 NLT).
These same biblical words are being spit into the faces of all sincere believers today who are facing in ever increasing measure insurmountable and irreversible challenges to their faith. The origin of the words—as it was also in Hezekiah’s day—is the very pit of hell itself.
These words were spoken by the personal representative of King Sennacherib of Assyria as he challenged King Hezekiah and Judah to surrender to their overwhelming forces. This was meant to utterly discourage the children of Israel and cause them to give up their confidence and faith in God. Historically Sennacherib’s boast was true; no one stood in his path as he conquered nations at will. He was later to learn the hard reality that he was only doing what God had from eternity past determined that he should do. “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.” King Sennacherib ultimately died in his own arrogance at the hands of his sons.
Today King Sennacherib’s forces could be a metaphor for all that faces humankind in terms of insurmountable issues and problems that threaten to literally destroy the earth and its people. The godless rule of an a-national oligarchy operating through its equally godless system of central banks has brought multiple nations to the brink of bankruptcy and failure. Geo-engineering, particularly chem.-trailing, has set in motion an irreversible ecological destruction capable of decimating the human race. Weather manipulation is gradually deteriorating food production on a global level and genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are poisoning what is produced. Contrived illegal immigration has ensured an exponential increased presence of criminal and terrorist elements in our society. We don’t even really know the full extent of the damage from the disaster at Fukushima.
These threats, among others, cry out with the same message of Sennachirb’s representative—don’t put your confidence in God who cannot help you but rather just learn to live with the inevitable. Stand in fear of all the insurmountable circumstances you are facing. Rather than trusting in God, put your trust instead in the “system” which will provide for your every need and protect you from all harm. Sennacherib offered the people utopia but historically all he brought to conquered nations was displacement, subjugation and despair. In other words he promised the moon but gave them dystopia.
Today—in addition to the overwhelming problems referenced above—Americans are confronted with an aberrant government that rules by fiat while trampling underfoot the Constitution, the very basis for the rule of law and the only temporal hope for a healthy, ordered society. Through a graduated system of public assistance, aka welfare, the majority of citizens have been lulled into trading off their inalienable rights, their God ordained freedoms, for a pseudo security offered by the government.
The “war on poverty”—declared by Lyndon Johnson in 1964—has seen the investment of over 22 trillion dollars in the past 50 years. Ostensibly, this war was meant to address the causes of poverty rather than simply attempt to alleviate its consequences. However, after five decades of effort and gargantuan fiscal outlay, the so-called war has been an abysmal loss as there are now more people in America less capable of caring for themselves and more dependent on the federal government than at the war’s inception. For those who are informed regarding matters of the New World Order, Agenda 21, eugenics, etc., you will recognize that our government’s intentions were nefarious from the origin of this program. As with Sennacherib, the goal was never to do something beneficial for the people but always to bring them into complete subjugation. Living by government largesse always comes at a cost for the recipients. It usually means trading off some aspect of one’s liberties while concomitantly denying personal responsibility for oneself.
Hezekiah refused that message and responded by heading straight for that place where he knew he would find the manifest presence of almighty God. Hezekiah headed straight for the temple of God. He chose to press in believing that God could and would bring a supernatural answer to Judah’s situation. We can discern three specific aspects of Hezekiah’s response to the Sennacherib challenge—he personally chose to press into the Lord for himself, he engaged the body of Christ in confronting the threat and he allowed the gifts of the Spirit to bring direction and encouragement.
Hezekiah’s immediate response to connect directly with the Lord demonstrates how he had already established a personal relationship and walk with the Lord. For him, confronting the threats from Assyria wasn’t open to being weighed in the light of natural or human efforts. He knew in his spirit that the only solution to be found was in that relationship with God. He knew Judah would only survive through supernatural intervention. For Hezekiah this wasn’t a “Hail Mary” response. It was the natural given response of one who had come to know the Lord through a continuum of spiritual disciplines that created in him a confidence that God would intervene in their circumstances. Hezekiah was looking to the One who called their nation into existence, who delivered them supernaturally from Egypt, who sustained them through the Wilderness and who drove out the inhabitants of Canaan thereby giving them the Promised Land. He was looking to the One who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Hezekiah was embracing the promises of Him whose word is established in the heavens and changes not. All of this bespeaks an intentionally cultivated relationship with God that in times of tribulation engenders faithful responses.
Although he was the King of Judah, Hezekiah recognized and drew upon the life and power of the body of Christ by involving Eliakim, Shebna and Joah in the whole process of responding to the threat before them. One of the greatest failures of so many believers today is attempting to confront life’s challenges out of their singular strength and wisdom. Not only did Jesus come to redeem us as individuals but he also gave his life for the reality of the church (see Gal 2:20 and Eph 5:25). This means that we must not only develop our personal relationship with God but also invest relationally in the body of Christ. Failing to do so means we will certainly forfeit the life of Christ particularly made available to us through the body.
Building meaningful, authentic relationships within the body requires diligent commitment, spiritual work and dying to self. It requires a tenacity that refuses to run from internal body conflicts and chooses instead to faithfully, obediently work out redemptively any and all differences within the body. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Pro 27:17 NIV). The truth of this passage can only be realized to the degree that we choose to faithfully work through personal conflicts with the body of Christ rather than fleeing from them.
Hezekiah trusted the Lord to work through other members of the body for the total good of all concerned. This kind of trust comes through years of building committed relationships within the body.
The presence and ministry of the prophet Isaiah reflects Hezekiah and Judah’s—metaphorically the church—embracing of spiritual gifts and gifting. Today not a few churches and denominations have summarily dismissed the existence of the Holy Spirit’s presence as manifested in this supernatural manner. Many claim the gifts of the Holy Spirit ceased after the deaths of the early apostles or with the formation of the Bible. This represents a palpable denial of Scripture and usually indicates a failure to cultivate the kind of spiritual relationship with God that invites his supernatural presence and manifestations. The fact that there have been abuses of the gifts should not serve as a deterrent to faithfully embracing the fullness of the Holy Spirit’s life and ministry. God ordained the gifts of the Spirit expressly for the purpose of building up the body of Christ on earth. To neglect or deny this reality is to condemn the church to less than Jesus died to make it. The insights, direction and encouragement that has come to the body where I personally fellowship is inestimable. The guard against the abusive use of spiritual gifts is found in 1 Corinthians 14 where Paul teaches that the body is to judge, to weigh, that which is proffered in the name of the Lord.
Hezekiah faithfully set in motion spiritual disciplines that led to God’s supernatural intervention in the affairs of Judah. In essence, the king faced insurmountable and irreversible challenges by believing God and acting upon that belief. In doing so he ushered Judah into the supernatural. It is no different for us today. We are not going to overcome the devastating challenges we are facing in this late hour of humanity’s life by endeavoring to change things in the natural. Our only hope is to follow Hezekiah’s example and cross over into the supernatural with God. This will only transpire given our complete surrender to the Lordship of Jesus as evidenced in our faithful, obedient and trusting walk with him. If you believe this you need to surround yourself with like-minded followers who will faithfully walk it out with you.