Thursday, June 21, 2012

How Is He Able?

Sennacherib, king of Assyria, was planning to lay siege against a number of cities, including Jerusalem. Hezekiah, King of Judah, recognized that he was in direct line of fire and took counsel with his “mighty men.”  They made preparations outlined in the first verses of 2 Chronicles 32.

There were spiritual preparations to make, too, and Hezekiah told his people:

With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. (2 Chronicles 32:8 KJV)

They trusted the words of their king.  However, when Sennacherib heard all of this he was attacking Lachis. Rather than leave that battle, he sent word to Jerusalem that should have them shaking in fear:

Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of mine hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand? (2 Chronicles 32:14 KJV)

Considering Sennacherib’s battle history, perhaps they should have feared.  He had won the battle against Babylon and broken the allegiance it had with Chaldeans, Aramaeans, and Elamites. Today we can read of him on reliefs, as above, in the writings of Josephus, the Babylonian historian Berossus.  Josephus referred to the writings of Herodotus and the Chaldean 'Berosus'::
"Now when Sennacherib was returning from his Egyptian war to Jerusalem, he found his army under Rabshakeh his general in danger [by a plague], for God had sent a pestilential distemper upon his army; and on the very first night of the siege."
Josephus, hundreds of years later and following the loss of Jerusalem to Rome in 70 AD, understood that God affected the army to save Jerusalem.  How sad he must have felt that God had not done the same while he was fighting Rome in that same city.

Why would God bless Hezekiah and not Josephus? Why save Jerusalem some of the time and not others? Could Sennacherib be correct in asking if God was able?

Answers are tied in with God’s sovereignty, His plan for the world and for individuals. There is much which remains hidden. Daniel was shown portions of the future he could not reveal. John, too, was given revelation that he could not share. We do not know the mind of God:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9 KJV)

What we do know is that He is able.  I like the way Jeremiah says it:

But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. (Jeremiah 10:10 KJV)

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