Isaiah 37-38, Revelation 2

He Knows.

Isaiah 37-38, Revelation 2

…but in love you have delivered my life from the pit of destruction, for you have cast all my sins behind your back. Isaiah 38:17 ESV

The Assyrians had Judah surrounded. The fate of the people of God seemed assured. There appeared to be no way that they could withstand the coming onslaught of one of the most powerful armies on earth. But God knew something they didn’t know. He knew the outcome. And He had known it from before the foundations of the world. He had known it before Assyrian was even a nation or Sennacharib the king had even been born. Even as Sennacharib boasted and bragged about his power and the invincibility of his army, God had his fate predetermined. God warned him, “Have you not heard  that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass” (Isaiah 37:26 ESV). Sennacharib’s success had been God’s doing. This pagan king and his powerful army had been pawns in the hand of God to accomplish His will. God made it clear to Sennacharib, “I know you sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me” (Isaiah 37:28 ESV). Nothing escaped God’s notice. Nothing happened without God’s sovereign consent. And it was God’s predetermined will that Sennacharib would not conquer Jerusalem. For all his boasting and bluster, Sennacharib would find himself unsuccessful, losing 185,000 soldiers by the hand of God and losing his life at the hands of his own sons. God told Isaiah, “By the way he came, by the same way he shall return, and he shall not come into this city” (Isaiah 37:34 ESV). God knew something Sennacharib, Hezekiah, and even Isaiah didn’t know. He knew the plan.

What does this passage reveal about God?

There is never a moment when God is up in heaven, wringing His hands in worry or disbelief. He is never caught off guard, surprised by circumstances, or left scratching His head and wondering how something happened. God is always fully aware and completely in control at all times. It is only from our limited perspective that things sometimes appear to be out of His control. When Hezekiah became ill, God was not surprised. In fact, He told Hezekiah, “Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover” (Isaiah 38:1 ESV). But Hezekiah’s response to God’s announcement was to call out to Him in prayer. He asked God to remember his faithfulness and his effort to serve Him with a whole heart. And God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and answered. He gave him 15 more years of life. But even that miraculous answer to prayer was part of God’s sovereign plan. He knew what He was going to do all along. And while that thought might give us cause for concern and raise the question of whether it is even necessary or worthwhile to pray; the truth is, we should find comfort in the fact that God is always in control. Hezekiah didn’t ask for 15 more years of life. He simply asked God to “remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight” (Isaiah 38:3 ESV). He was simply trusting God to treat him with kindness, grace and mercy as he faced his death. But God had something in store that Hezekiah didn’t know. God had planned to extend his life an additional 15 years. But God also had a plan to get Hezekiah’s undivided attention so that those last years of his life might be better focused that the years that had preceded them.

What does this passage reveal about man?

There is so much we don’t know. There is so much we don’t understand. We look around us and see what we believe to be good, only to find out that it ends in trouble. We experience what we believe to be evil, only to learn that it somehow brought us good. Our sorrows end up producing joy. Our successes sometimes bring heartache. We tend to run from trouble and pursue peace and prosperity. But when we do so, we fail to remember that God knows something we don’t know. He sees what we can’t see. He is in control at all times and His sovereignty extends to all areas of our lives. How presumptuous for us to think that we can know what is best for us? How arrogant for us to believe that we can tell God what He needs to do for us? I am reminded of the words of Isaiah found later in his book: “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’” (Isaiah 45:9 NLT). The immediate context of this verse is God’s announcement that He will use King Cyrus as His chosen instrument to accomplish His divine plan. He would use this pagan king to restore the people of God to the land of promise after 70 years in exile. And while God’s decision to use a godless king would seem to make no sense to us, God knew best. “I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide his actions. He will restore my city and free my captive people—without seeking a reward! I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!” (Isaiah 45:13 ESV). No one would prayed for that to happen. No man alive at that time would have dreamed that the king of Persia would allow the people of God to return to their own land and pay for the entire trip out of his royal treasury. But God knew.

How would I apply what I’ve read to my own life?

Over in the book of Revelation, Jesus speaks to the seven churches. He has words of exhortation and warning. He repeatedly says, “I know.” He is fully aware of their circumstances, the nature of their faith, the struggles and trials with which they are dealing, and the ultimate outcome of their situation. Jesus told the church at Ephesus, “I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance” (Revelation 2:2 ESV). He assured them that He knew they were “enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake” (Revelation 2:3 ESV). But He also knew they had abandoned their first love. They had turned their relationship with Him into religion, going through the motions without the proper motivation of love for Him. Jesus told the church in Smyrna, “I know your tribulation and your poverty” (Revelation 2:9 ESV). He knew their circumstances and the difficulties that surrounded them daily. He also knew they were going to face increasing persecution, but it would be followed by the crown of life. Jesus knew the outcome of their faith as well as their fate. To the church at Pergamum, Jesus said, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is” (Revelation 2:13 ESV). He knew how bad things were in their city. He knew how influential Satan was in their home town. He also knew that while many had remained faithful in spite of their difficult circumstances, some had compromised their faith and convictions. In all of this, Jesus does not act surprised, caught off guard, or left shaking His head in disbelief. He knows how hard it is for us to live Christ-like lives on this earth. He knows we face a real enemy who hates us and is out to destroy us. He knows that we will falter and sometimes fail. But He also knows the outcome of our perseverance and persistent faith in Him. “I will grant you to eat of the tree of life” (Revelation 2:7 ESV). “I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10 ESV). “I will give him some of the hidden manna” (Revelation 2:17 ESV). “I will give authority over the nations” (Revelation 2:26 ESV). “I will give him the morning star” (Revelation 2:28 ESV). He knows. He understands. He has a plan. He can be trusted. He is in complete control and we can trust our lives into His fully capable hands.

Father, I want to trust You more. I want to rest in the reality of Your sovereignty – even when I don’t fully understand it. I want to learn to see my circumstances through the lens of Your sovereign will. You are always in control. You always know what is going and exactly why it is happening. You always have a plan for each and every circumstance in life. I may not get it. I probably won’t like it. But I need to learn to trust You with it. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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