Counterfeit Hopes. Substitute Blessings.
“Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well. Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards, olive groves and honey. Choose life instead of death!” – 2 Kings 18:31-32 NLT
They always sounds so good – the promises of the enemy that is. He never comes to us telling the truth, but always veils the truth in subtle lies that sound so appealing. He knows what we want and he offers it to us – for a price. The enemy’s promises always come with a price. And that price is surrender. We must give up and give in to his desires. We must do as he says. Sure, he promises us blessing and abundance, happiness and hope, but first we must give turn away from God and turn to him. We see this scene lived out in real life in the story of Hezekiah. This time, the enemy comes in the form of Sennacherib, king of Assyria. Ten years earlier he had defeated the northern kingdom of Israel, sacking the capital city of Samaria and taking the people into exile. Now he has come to besiege Jerusalem. His troops have camped outside the city walls and he has sent one of his officials to demand that Hezekiah surrender the city and its people to Assyria. King Hezekiah has mistakenly believed that he could buy off the Assyrians by paying the tribute money he had been refusing to pay. Eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold later, the Assyrians are still there. They had no intention of leaving. They would not be bought off with gold and silver.
When Hezekiah stubbornly refuses to surrender, the Assyrian envoy makes his appeal directly to the people. He warns them not to listen to Hezekiah and not to trust in God’s deliverance. No gods had ever been able to stand up to the power of Assyria, and Yahweh would be no different. “Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’” (2 Kings 18:30 NLT). Then the enemy does what he always does. He makes a promising offer. He appeals to their desires. He offers them peace. He invites them to open the gates and come out. Let down their defenses. Trust him. And if they do, he will let them continue to enjoy life just like it is – full of blessing and abundance. Nothing will change. There will be no cost to their compromise. Then he subtly hints at what comes next. He will arrange to take them to another land – but one that has all the blessings and abundance of the Promised Land. He even uses terminology similar to that which God used when He told the people of Israel about the Promised Land years earlier. He says it will be “a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards, olive groves and honey” (2 Kings 18:32 NLT). His offer sounds eerily similar to the one God had made when He had delivered the people out of bondage in Egypt. But the enemy offers them another promised land. He offers them counterfeit hopes and substitute blessings – replacements for the promises of God. And his offer is tempting. It always is.
But the enemy’s offers never come through. They never deliver. Oh, they may for a season, but then the truth sets in. His promised land always ends up being nothing more than bondage. His blessings always turn into curses. His abundance dries up. His hope evaporates. His promises fade. And we are always left disappointed. But God’s promises never fail. He always delivers. If we will trust Him and refuse to listen to the lies of the enemy, He will always come through for us. He did for Judah. He destroyed 185,000 of the enemy’s troops in one night, without a single soldier from Judah having to lift a finger. God sent the Ethiopians against the Assyrians, forcing Sennacherib to return home with his troops to defend his own land. And when he arrived there Sennacherib was murdered by his own sons. Not a single arrow was fired against Judah. Not a single siege tower was built. Because the people listened to God and not the enemy, they were delivered. Never buy into the counterfeit hopes and substitute blessings of the enemy. No matter how good they sound.
Father, the enemy is always out there offering us his version of Your truth. He wants to promise us what only You can give. And sometimes we listen and give in. The results are always the same. Disappointment and disillusionment. Open our eyes and help us to see the truth. Help us to trust You and reject the lies of the enemy. Only You can provide hope, joy, fulfillment, safety, blessing and abundance. Your promises never fail. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men