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July 10, Day 192 – The Storm of This Life

Yesterday, we saw the last king of Israel – Hoshea – and, sadly, the end of the northern kingdom at the hands of the brutal Assyrians. In our section for today, 2 Kings 18:1-19:13, we see Hezekiah come to power in Judah. Hezekiah “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done” (verse 3). We see that the good kings are measured by the standards for righteousness that David established. The Lord commended Hezekiah for his ways. In fact, “there was no one like him among the kings of Judah” (verse 5). Sennacherib forced Hezekiah to pay tribute (verse 15), but in the face of all the Assyrian insults and threats against Hezekiah and Jerusalem, this king of Judah demonstrated great faith in the Lord. Sennacherib’s commander severely underestimated and “blasphemed the Lord” by comparing Him to “the gods of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah (who were not gods at all) and could not rescue those lands from Sennacherib” (verses 33-35 and 19:6). Neither Sennacherib nor his commander had any concept about the reality of the God of Israel. In chapter 19, we read that Hezekiah “tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and went into the temple of the Lord” (verse 1). In times of stress, Hezekiah’s example should guide our own response. The king called for the prophet Isaiah, who said, “do not be afraid of what you have heard,” and he prophesied that Sennacherib would “hear a certain report – after which, he would return to his own country where he would be cut down with the sword” (verse 7). In verses 9-13, we see that Sennacherib threatened Hezekiah again – accusing God of deception (verse 10) – and implying that no God could deliver any country from Sennacherib. Later, we will see that Sennacherib was mistaken; God will act exactly according to Isaiah’s word, and He will supernaturally demonstrate His power to deliver Judah. As we saw on July 8th, “pride goes before a fall” (cf., Proverbs 16:18).

Psalm 82 tells us that God “presides” over everything and “gives” (i.e., renders) judgment. Nothing can hinder or countermand His decrees. The word “gods” in verses 1 and 6 is not a divine recognition of the existence of other deities. It is simply an informal title of presumed authority used by our supreme Authority over the universe to address those who exercise discernment and render judgments. In no way does it imply or give us cause for worship of those so titled. There is only One God Who possesses supreme authority and is qualified to “rise up and judge the earth, for all nations are His inheritance” (verse 8). Everyone else (i.e., the rest of us), “knows nothing, understands nothing, and walks about in darkness” (verse 5). Though we “are all sons of the Most High, we will all die like mere men and will fall like every other ruler” (verse 7). Only the eternal God is worthy of our worship.

As I read Paul’s storm-experience in Acts 27:13-44, I couldn’t help but recall how God spared our lives when we personally went through Hurricane Camille, which directly struck our home on August 17, 1969 (cf., photograph - February 26, Day #57 – How to Lose Everything). God was there that night, and He is still here with me, for which I am so thankful. The text says, “a gentle south wind began to blow … before very long … a wind of hurricane force swept down, and the storm caught the ship” (verses 13-15). It was like that for us – it began with “a gentle south wind,” but it ended in the destruction of everything. “We took such a violent battering from the storm …” (verse 18). From my one night in that storm, I have a slight inkling of what Paul must have gone through, but his storm “raged through many days” and nights, “for neither sun nor stars appeared” (verse 20). We read that Paul’s storm lasted “fourteen nights” (verse 27). I cannot imagine going through something like that with such a precarious, liquid foundation under my feet. Eventually, we see that the ship “struck a sandbar and ran aground, stuck fast, and was broken in pieces by the pounding surf” (verse 41). We learn several lessons from this passage. First, God’s creative power – even in the storm – is beyond our understanding. Our experiences are not big enough for us to know the full effects of the wind and the water. Second, God was in full control of the storm. Third, He was there for Paul – and for the 276 lives on board. Fourth, by His prophetic Word and His promise to Paul, they all made it through the storm. Only by trusting God, will we also make it through the storm of this life.

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