Be Strong and Courageous.
“‘Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!’ Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.” – 2 Chronicles 32:7-8 NLT
They were surrounded by a more powerful enemy who was constantly bombarding them with demoralizing propaganda, attempting to undermine their faith in God and cause them to surrender without a fight. This enemy mocked their God and ridiculed their faith. The people suffered a steady barrage of withering scorn and disheartening news that was weakening their resolve and causing their conviction to crumble. So as their leader, King Hezekiah stepped in and offered them much-needed words of encouragement. He called them to be strong and courageous. But these weren’t just empty words or some kind of meaningless pep talk with no basis in reality. They were a reminder of the fact that “there is a power far greater on our side.” Hezekiah was trying to get the people to recognize the fact that God was greater than their circumstances. No matter how bad it looked, no matter how dire the circumstances may appear, God was more powerful. The size of Sennacherib’s army was a non-factor. The past victories of Assyria were meaningless. The taunts of the enemy were futile. As long as the people of God remembered that Yahweh was in control. Their faith had to remain firm. They had to rest in the fact that their God was big enough to handle any situation. No circumstance was too big for God.
What a timely reminder for us today, when we stand surrounded by the enemy, and bombarded by messages that question our God’s very existence. We face circumstances and situations on a daily basis that cause us to doubt and tempt us to turn away from God. The enemy is constantly whispering in our ear that our God is too small. Or He is too busy. Or He doesn’t really care. We can begin to think that our situation is too difficult for God to handle. So we either try to solve it ourselves or simply give up. It’s interesting to note that the last verse of the preceding chapter states, “In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands, Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful” (2 Chronicles 31:21b NLT). And yet, he found himself surrounded by the enemy. He sought God with all his heart and still found himself under siege. He experienced success and the threat of defeat simultaneously. And yet when you and I are seeking the Lord, we seem shocked and surprised if anything unexpected or unwanted comes our way. We question the difficulties of life as if we somehow think we should be immune to them. We wonder why we are under attack when we have been trying so hard to remain faithful to God. But faithfulness to God does not guarantee an absence of trouble. But it does provide an opportunity for our faith to be tested and God’s power to be displayed. Hezekiah was diligently working to fortify the city. He was repairing the broken sections of the walls surrounding Jerusalem. He had increased the production of military weapons. He enlarged his standing army. He took steps to defend himself and his people against the coming enemy. But then he reminded them that their real defense and protection was God Himself. He was their hope. And was their “secret weapon.” And God didn’t disappoint them. We’re told that “the Lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers. So Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace to his own land. And when he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons killed him there with a sword” (2 Chronicles 32:21 NLT). The walls weren’t necessary. The weapons never made it out of their boxes. The defensive fortifications never got tested. God did it all. He provided victory without the Israelites having to lift a finger. They didn’t have to do a thing, but watch God work. Their difficulty had become an opportunity to witness the power of God on display. The enemy’s presence provided a platform on which God could demonstrate His power. Our difficulties are God’s proving ground. He shows up when things are looking down. But we must stand strong and be courageous. We must trust and believe that He is greater than our biggest problem. He is able to save. He is ready, willing and able to deliver. Our problems exist to help us recognize that He exists – to learn that there really is a power far greater on our side.
Father, may I see You in my circumstances today. May I see my problems as Your proving ground and as opportunities to watch You work. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men