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July 11, Day 193 – Peace in Our Time

Today in 2 Kings 19:14-20:21, we come to Hezekiah’s prayer, Isaiah’s prophecy of Sennacherib’s fall, and Hezekiah’s illness – which begins his downfall. Sennacherib’s second threat against Hezekiah came in the form of a letter, and he “went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before Him and prayed” (verses 14-15). Hezekiah rightly identified Sennacherib’s threats as “insults to the living God” (verse 16), and he requested the LORD to “deliver them from Sennacherib so that all the kingdoms on earth would know that God alone is God” (verse 19). Isaiah “sent a message to Hezekiah from the LORD, Who heard Hezekiah’s prayer” and promised that Sennacherib “would not enter this city or shoot an arrow here” (verse 33). God promised to “defend this city and save it” (verse 34). That very night, “the LORD put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand Assyrians” (verse 35), and Sennacherib “broke camp and withdrew” (verse 36). Later, Sennacherib was killed by his own sons (verse 37). Chapter 20 describes Hezekiah’s illness – “to the point of death” (verse 1). After Isaiah told him to “put his house in order” (verse 1), Hezekiah “prayed to the LORD, reminded Him of his faithful, wholehearted devotion to God, and wept bitterly” (verse 2-3). Isaiah returned and told Hezekiah that the LORD had “heard his prayer, seen his tears, and promised to heal him – adding fifteen years to Hezekiah’s life” (verses 4-6). Hezekiah asked for a sign of the LORD’s healing, and God granted that the shadow reverse – back ten steps (verses 8-11). In the last section, we see that Hezekiah foolishly revealed to his Babylonian visitors “all that was in his storehouses” (verse 13). Based on this open and proud display of “his treasures” (repeated in verses 13 and 15) and on his lack of knowledge about the capabilities and future plans of his Babylonian guests, Hezekiah made a serious mistake. Isaiah tells him that “everything will be carried off to Babylon,” to which this good king of Judah inconsiderately gloats – at least, “there will be peace and security in my lifetime” (verse 19). What happened to Hezekiah?

In Psalm 83, we read that God has “enemies” (verse 2). Nothing could be more logically absurd than to stand against one’s own Creator. That the God of the universe (i.e., the only One Who created and owns all things) should have - and temporarily tolerate - enemies, is also clear evidence that God sovereignly created independent entities with degrees of freedom in His universe. For a limited time and in a particular space, God allows His enemies (i.e., His malevolent opponents) to carry on their foolishness. Why would He do this? Part of His purpose serves as a universal proclamation and demonstration of His authority - “that He alone is the Most High over all the earth” (verse 18). His majesty is so inconceivably great that even His enemies “will seek His face” (verse 16), and “perish in disgrace” (verse 17). He will make a mockery of those who attempt to mock Him, and He will shame them comprehensively within the bounds of their own limited freedom. We saw this outcome in today’s reading in 2 Kings. Hezekiah sought the LORD, but Sennacherib mocked Him; God mercifully blessed the former and justly condemned the latter. Freely, we can submit ourselves to our Creator and to His plan, or for a limited time and in a particular space, we can stand against Him. But if we choose to do this, we will pay a heavy price for our foolishness.

In Acts 28:1-16, we see that Paul and his shipwrecked company of travelers have arrived “safely on shore at Malta,” where the “islanders showed them unusual kindness” (verse 1). That Paul “suffered no ill effects” from the viper was both a blessing and an opportunity from the Lord. His survival caused the islanders to believe that he was a “god” (verse 6), and when he “laid hands on Publius’ sick father and healed him” (verse 8), this event opened up to Paul the opportunity to heal “the rest of the sick on the island who came and were cured” (verse 9). Doubtless, many islanders were personally able to hear the gospel in this way. Luke writes, “when we were ready to sail, they furnished us with the supplies we needed” (verse 10). In verses 11-16, we read how Paul came to his destination – Rome. God promised that He would bring Paul to Rome, and He delivered on His promise. God always makes good on His Word.

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