The king of Assyria, Sennacherib seemed unstoppable. He handily defeated every nation in the near east, and the only thing standing between him and the brook of egypt was a tiny, washed-up, tribal nation – Judah, the only remaining tribe of Israel. In Jerusalem, Judah’s king, Hezekiah, was hard at work leading the greatest national spiritual revival in many years. He rebuilt the temple, reinstated the passover and the levitical priesthood. But could his God protect him from the most powerful nation in the world? Sennacherib thought not; he sent a messenger to frighten the people of Judah. The messenger stood outside the city walls of Jerusalem and called out to all the people,
On what are you trusting, that you endure siege in Jerusalem? Is not Hezekiah misleading you, that he may give you over to die by famine and by thirst, when he tells you, ‘The LORD our God will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria’? . . . Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands at all able to deliver their lands out of my hand? Who among all the gods of those nations that my fathers devoted to destruction was able to deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand? Now, therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand! (2 Chron. 32:10-11, 13-15)
Can you imagine how the inhabitants of Jerusalem felt? They looked out at Assyria’s army and new that the Assyrian forces were vastly superior to their won – both in number and technology. Imagine ten men with butter knives facing down 100 with machine guns. They must have wondered: “Is God real? How can he protect us from their military might?”
Was the enemy at their gates speaking truth?
We’re just like the people of Jerusalem. We would worship God, and follow him, but there is a tireless enemy at our gates. He slanders God’s name, and frightens us with threats. His power is far superior to our own – if we’re honest we must admit that we’re unable to defeat him.
Our enemy is inside our hearts. He is our flesh, our sinful desire. When we would obey God and share the gospel with a non-christian, he threatens, “They’ll think you’re a freak!” When we would resist the temptation to lust, he cries, “You’ll be starved of satisfaction!” When we would read our Bibles, he muses, “You’ll miss out on your sleep!” When we would say a kind word, he warns, “You’ll not be respected.”
When you try to resist your sinful nature, he musters his forces, the march, and yell, and stamp their weapons. He cries out, “Do you really think you’ll win? Give up you fool!”
The people in Jerusalem needed a dose of truth to overcome the enemy at their gates (and so do we). Hezekiah encouraged them, saying,
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than him. With [Sennacherib] is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles (2 Chron. 32:7-8).
God’s people have something stronger than superior technology and numbers – they have God. Nor did God leave Jerusalem besieged, he “sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land” (2 Chron. 32:21).
You cannot face your enemy on your own, but God, who loves you and loves to show you mercy, is on your side. He alone can send your sinful nature away shame-faced. If we try to do it on our own we will fall prey to our sins, but if we trust God, then he will succeed. In doing so he is glorified in your life, and your life is saved.
Does an enemy cry lies at the gate of your heart? Turn to the God who sent his son to destroy sin and death forever – he can work a great work of war within you.