“Emmanuel is Enough” – 2 Chronicles 32:1-23

March 17th, 2013

2 Chronicles 32:1-23 (2 Kings 18:13-20:21; Isa 36-38)

“Emmanuel is Enough”

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Bible Memory Verse for the Week: If God is for us, who can be against us . . .  It doesn’t matter! —  Romans 8:31b

 

Background Information:

  • The Chronicler does not record the final collapse of the north, perhaps because he never regarded it as a legitimate kingdom in any case, and because his overriding interest in its decline has been the consequent opportunity for a return to the Jerusalem fold, which has already, in some measure, happened (30:11).  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 245)
  • (v. 5) During this time, Jerusalem’s population expanded a minimum of threefold and perhaps as much as fivefold.  This expansion resulted from a combination several factors: (1) refugees who streamed in following the fall of the Northern Kingdom; (2) Hezekiah’s efforts in reaching out to Israelites living in the north (30:1, 10-11); and (3) the influx of people to the fortified city from throughout Judah as the Assyrian invasion became imminent.  In addition, significant growth was seen in villages in the environs of Jerusalem (such as Gibeon and Romat Rahel) as well as the Negev.  In addition to fortifying the millo (“supporting terraces,” 32:5), Hezekiah also expanded the confines of the city of Jerusalem by what is known as the “Broad Wall” (cf. 32:5).  This 20-foot-thick wall expanded the walled portion of Jerusalem toward the western hill and allowed the city to accommodate its growing population.  (John H. Walton, Zondervan Ill. Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Vol. 3, 360-61)
  • (vss. 5-7) There is an instructive word-play between vv 5 and 7, hidden by the English.  The word translated “he set to work resolutely” means literally “he strengthened himself”.  It is a word that Chronicles often uses to denote the strength which is available for those who seek God.  The same word then occurs in Hezekiah’s exhortation, v 7: “Be strong…”  Hezekiah is therefore able to communicate his own confidence in God to the people.  Verse 8b finds them, literally, “leaning upon” the words of Hezekiah–a typical OT picture of faith.  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 247)
  • (vss. 9-11) Later, i.e., after Hezekiah’s payment of the stipulated tribute (2 Kgs 18:14), the treacherous Assyrian proceeded to scrap the just negotiated peace treaty (cf. Isa 33:7-8), to lay “siege to Lachish” (v 9), 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem, and to make further demands on the beleaguered Hezekiah.  To enforce them Sennacherib “sent his officers,” including his supreme commander (2 Kgs 18:17 NIV; the “tartan,” KJV), with a large army “to Jerusalem.”  In view of the final results (v 21), it is not surprising that Sennacherib’s annals say nothing further about this later aspect to his campaign.  Indeed the very insolence of his message that follows (cf. vv 10-15 with 2 Kgs 18:19-25, 28-34; Isa 36:4-10, 13-20) begins to provide justification for the stirring hopes expressed earlier by Hezekiah (vv 7-8; cf. v 11).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 541)
  • (v. 10) The writer of Kings chooses to underscore some of Hezekiah’s faults, such as the way he used the temple treasures in an attempt to buy off Sennacherib or his initial despairing reaction to the Assyrian commander’s taunting (2 Kgs 18:15, 16; 19:1-3).  The Chronicler, still interested in showing us Hezekiah as a foreshadowing of the Ideal King, presents the invasion as a test of faithfulness, a test that Hezekiah passed with the Lord’s strength.  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 368)
  • (v. 12) While in the Chronicler’s view, Hezekiah’s re-establishment of the temple was positive (see 29:3-36), the difficulties of travel, ritual cleansing, etc. imposed on the general population was enough to make many of them wonder if Hezekiah could be trusted.  Moreover, in the ancient Near East the common assumption was the gods were pleased to have many altars.  Sennacherib based his criticism of Hezekiah on the assumption that Israel’s God could not be pleased with having only one altar.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 453)
  • (v.14)  All ancient peoples regarded their own fortunes as bound up with the relative capacities of their gods.  Assyria had every reason to be scornful about the gods they had so far encountered, and not to think that Yahweh would be different–yet.  However, the gauntlet thrown down in vv 14f. can rightly be regarded as hubris, that ultimate human defiance of the divine, if only because the Assyrian ascribes his successes to, and locates his confidence in, himself alone (i.e. “My hand…the hand of my fathers”), not his gods.  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 246)
  • (v. 17) Time and again the Chronicler pointed out that the Assyrians treated the God of Israel as if he were nothing more than another god.  This rhetoric was not only insulting to the Lord (32:17), but if also insulted the Chronicler and his readers.  As men and women who lived long after the destruction of the Assyrian kingdom, the post-exilic community knew how ridiculous Sennacherib’s claims were.  While the people of Hezekiah’s day were frightened by these words, the readers of this narrative mocked the Assyrian hubris.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 453-54)
  • (vss. 20ff) In his annals for 701, Sennacherib was thus able to boast that he “shut up (the king) like a caged bird inside Jerusalem”; that Hezekiah was deserted by his Arabian mercenaries and compelled to release Sennacherib’s pro-Assyrian Philistine vassal so as to be restored to his throne in Ekron; and finally that Hezekiah himself had to capitulate, paying a huge indemnity and surrendering over 200,000 captives to Assyria.  These facts are assumed without comment in Chronicles, though the last two elements are elaborated by other Scriptures.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 540-41)
  • (v. 21) It is unusual for Chronicles to dwell on the personal fate of the antagonist, and there is a special irony in his falling “in the house of his god.”  The OT is relentlessly scathing about the impotence of other gods, especially when they are made to challenge Yahweh directly (cf. 1 Sm 5:1-5).  (J. G. McConville, The Daily Study Bible Series, 1 & 2 Chr, 246)
  • (v. 21) Perhaps because of the difficulty in taking Jerusalem, Sennacherib chooses to celebrate his victory over Hezekiah with over 60 linear feet of wall reliefs in his palace at Nineveh.  (John H. Walton, Zondervan Ill. Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Vol. 3, 361)
  • (v. 21) Then “an angel…annihilated all the fighting men…of the Assyrian king,” specifically, 185,000 in one night (2 Kgs 19:35).  The proposal has been advanced that a plague carried by rodents was what struck down the invaders.  This is based on an Egyptian legend–which does confirm the general fact of a miraculous deliverance–that Tirhakah (and Hezekiah) owed his victory to field mice that ate up the Assyrians’ weapons (Herodotus, Histories, 2:141).

But while God can indeed make use of natural means for delivering his elect (and sometimes did [cf. Ex 14:21], even by plagues associated with mice, [1 Sm 6:4], the rapidity and intensity of this disaster renders the plague proposal inadequate as a particular explanation for the happenings of 701 B.C., if viewed apart from a supernatural (angelic) agency.  The event ranks, in fact, with Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea as one of the two greatest examples of the Lord’s intervention to save his people.  So Sennacherib “withdrew to his own” land and was slain (2 Kgs 19:36-37; Isa 37-38).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 541-42)

  • (v. 21) In order to close out the account, the death notice of Sennacherib is given, although his actual death does not come for another 20 years (681 B.C.).  Assyrian sources confirm that Sennacherib was killed by his sons while worshiping in the temple of Nisroch, apparently in jealousy over the selection of Esarhaddon as heir.  (John H. Walton, Zondervan Ill. Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Vol. 3, 362-63)
  • (v. 21) The devastation brought on Judah by the Assyrian army in 701 B.C. can be appreciated from this excerpt from Sennacherib:

“As for Hezekiah, the Judean, I besieged 46 of his fortified walled cities and surrounding smaller towns, which were without number.  Using packed-down ramps and applying battering rams, infantry attacks by mines, breeches, and siege machines, I conquered (them).  I took out 200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, cattle, and sheep, without number, and counted them as spoil.  He himself, I locked up within Jerusalem, his royal city, like a bird in a cage.”  (John H. Walton, Zondervan Ill. Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Vol. 3, 363)

 

The question to be answered is . . .  What is the Chronicler attempting to communicate to his post-exilic audience as well as to us today?

 

Answer: That Emmanuel, God with us, is more than enough for any challenge you might encounter.  So no matter what battle you face, Emmanuel is more than enough to help you make it.   You’re gonna “make it” if you stay in Christ . . . Emmanuel.

 

We forget that both the biggest human contribution and the greatest human weakness are irrelevant in the face of God’s infinity.  God’s unlimited power is neither strengthened by our contribution nor lessened by our weakness.  (Gary L. Thomas, Seeking the Face of God, p. 142)

 

God’s will in relation to his creatures is not necessary, however.  In the most absolute terms Scripture declares that God does whatsoever he pleases, Ps 115:3; Prv 21:1; Dan 4:35.  He does not need to give account to any one, Job 33:13.  In his hand we are like clay in the hand of the potter, Job 10:9; 33:6; Isa 29:16; 30:14; 64:8; Jer 8:1 ff.; “the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are accounted as the small dust of the balance, all the nations are as nothing before him,” Isa 40:15 ff.  (Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, 228-29)

 

God has the right to do whatsoever he desires with his own, Mt 20:15.  All things are absolutely dependent on God’s will for their very existence, and for their being what they are, Rv 4:11.  God’s will is the final ground of everything.  Both mercy and hardening have their origin in God’s will, Rom 9:15-18.  In the church the Holy Spirit “divides to each one severally even as he will,” 1 Cor 12:11.  Man has no right to offer the least objection to God’s free disposals, Mt 20:13 ff.; Rom 9:20, 21.  (Herman Bavinck, The Doctrine of God, 229)

 

The repetition of the Hebrew verb nşl (NIV “save” [32:11, 14], “deliver” [vv 13, 14, 15], and “rescue” [v 17]) identifies the question that is central to the plot of the story: Can Yahweh deliver his people from the Assyrian onslaught?  (Andrew E. Hill, The NIV Application Commentary: 1 & 2 Chr, 591)

 

One may observe, therefore, the definition of omnipotence by its manifestations.  It is known in concrete acts, acts indeed of over-reaching and overpowering inclusiveness; in creation, nature, history, providence, and redemption.  In God resides the power to produce and control everything that comes to pass.  Nothing evades God’s omnipotence (Dan 4:35; Amos 9:2, 3) and even the most minute things such as the falling sparrow or the hairs of our head are under His personal control (Mt 10:30; Lk 12:7).  There is nothing accidental or incidental, and the thought of “omnipotence” merges easily into “omnipresence” and “omniscience.”  (Merrill C. Tenney, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 4, 530)

 

There is no nonsense in the omnipotence as there is no nonsense in God:  He cannot do that which is self-contradictory or contradictory to His own nature, because His omnipotence is of His own essence, and He is all-Being out of which all existence must arise.  Intellectual tricks, raising questions as to whether God can draw a shorter than a straight line between two points or make a weight so heavy that He Himself cannot lift it, do not belong in any serious discussion of omnipotence.  More to the point, and more personally, He can in no way contradict His own nature by sinning or dying.  He cannot make wrong right.  He cannot pretend that what has happened has not happened.  The question as to how sin entered into the world is not a question of His omnipotence as much as it is a means of illustrating how an all-powerful God can create a system in which sin is possible and at the same time, because of His omnipotence, make the wrath of man to serve Him.  (Merrill C. Tenney, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 4, 530)

 

God has power over His power which is always under His wise and holy will.  It may never be said that He is a slave of His own omnipotence:  men live in a personal not a deterministic system, and therefore they have freedom to act as individuals because He has restraining.  God’s omnipotence is in no sense a pantheistic attribute: omnipotence is not automatic but willful.  Although it is true, as Christ said, that He is able to “raise up children unto Abraham” out of the stones of the street, He has not done so.  On the basis that God’s omnipotence is controlled by love, His almighty power becomes a ground for confident trust.  (Merrill C. Tenney, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 4, 530)

 

Some have found help to the understanding of omnipotence in the names of God, esp. those used in the OT.  ‘Ēl, or esp. ‘Ēlōhĩm, emphasizes the fullness of power in God; ‘Ēl Shadday outlines the might of God; ‘Abhir is the Strong One.  The repeated title, “Lord of Hosts” meant supremacy of power to the Hebrew.  (Merrill C. Tenney, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 4, 530)

 

If God be Almighty, he can want nothing; all want speaks weakness.  If he doth what he will, he cannot be miserable; all misery consists in those things which happen contrary to our will.  There is nothing can hinder his happiness, because nothing can resist his power.  Since he is omnipotent, nothing can hurt him, nothing can strip him of what he hath, of what he is.  If he can do whatsoever he will, he cannot want anything that he wills.  He is as happy, as great, as glorious, as he will; for he hath a perfect liberty of will to will, and a perfect power to attain what he will; his will cannot be restrained, nor his power meted.  It would be a defect in blessedness, to will what he were not able to do; sorrow is the result of a want of power, with a presence of will.  If he could will anything which he could not effect, he would be miserable, and no longer God: he can do whatsoever he pleases, and therefore can want nothing that pleases him.  He cannot be happy, the original of whose happiness is not in himself:  nothing can be infinitely happy, that is limited and bounded.  (Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, 86-87)

 

God’s power is infinite, and that he is therefore not limited to doing only what he actually has done.  In fact, God is able to do more than he actually does.  For example, John the Baptist says in Mt 3:9, “God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.”  God is one who “does whatever he pleases” (Ps 115:3); he could have destroyed Israel and raised up a great nation from Moses (cf. Ex 32:10), but he did not do so.

However, there are some things that God cannot do.  God cannot will or do anything that would deny his own character.  This is why the definition of omnipotence is stated in terms of God’s ability to do “all his holy will.”  It is not absolutely everything that God is able to do, but everything that is consistent with his character.  For example, God cannot lie.  In Ti 1:2 he is called (literally) “the unlying God” or the “God who never lies.”  The author of Hebrews says that in God’s oath and promise “it is impossible for God to lie” (Heb 6:18, author’s translation).  2 Tm 2:13 says of Christ, “He cannot deny himself.”  Furthermore, James says, “God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one” (Jas 1:13).  Thus, God cannot lie, sin, deny himself, or be tempted with evil.  He cannot cease to exist, or cease to be God, or act in a way inconsistent with any of his attributes.  (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 217)

 

The Bible teaches us on the one hand that the power of God extends beyond that which is actually realized, Gn 18:14; Jer 32:27; Zech 8:6; Mt 3:9; 26:53.  We cannot say, therefore, that what God does not bring to realization, is not possible for Him.  But on the other hand it also indicates that there are many things which God cannot do.  He can neither lie, sin, change, nor deny Himself, Nm 23:19; 1 Sm 15:29; 2 Tm 2:13; Heb 6:18; Jas 1:13, 17.  There is no absolute power in Him that is divorced from His perfections, and in virtue of which He can do all kinds of things which are inherently contradictory.  The idea of God’s omnipotence is expressed in the name “El-Shaddai; and the Bible speaks of it in no uncertain terms, Job 9:12; Ps 115:3; Jer 32:17; Mt 19:26; Lk 1:37; Rom 1:20; Eph 1:19.  God manifests His power in creation, Rom 4:17; Isa 44:24; in the works of providence, Heb 1:3, and in the redemption of sinners, 1 Cor 1:24; Rom 1:16.  (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 80)

 

Anselm in his Proslogion tackled the apparent contradiction that Scripture says the omnipotent God cannot do certain things, e.g., tell a lie or change His nature.  He pointed out that this implies consistency rather than contradiction, for things such as lying are negative and passive expressing impotence rather than omnipotence.  God’s inability to do things of this kind is thus the greater evidence of His almightiness (7).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 594)

 

The Word for the Day is . . . sufficient

 

What does 2 Chronicles 32:1-23 teach us about the sufficiency of God for those who trust in Him?:

 

Now in 2 Kgs 18:14-16 we are told that Hezekiah’s first response to the threat was to try to appease the Assyrians by paying tremendous tribute, and that to obtain the wherewithal he seized the treasures in the temple.  Imagine the Chronicler’s consternation–that was abject failure to rely on Yahweh; it was Ahaz’ sacrilegious sin repeated.  (Abingdon Press, The Interpreter’s Bible Vol. 3, 531)

 

Did Sennacherib come to destroy?  By no means!  Here were the results: first, a stirring to wholesome energy and activity.  If annoyances and troubles and sorrows, great or small, do nothing else for us, they would be clear and simple gain if they woke us up, for the half of men pass half of their lives half-asleep. . . . The next was that his invasion increased dependences upon God. . . The third good thing that he–not exactly did–but that was done through him, was that experience of God’s delivering power was enriched.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, 2 Kgs – Eccl, 247-249)

 

I.  Emmanuel is more than enough to help you face any attack (2 Chr 32:1-21; 2 Kgs 18:13-19:37; Isa 22:5-13; 36:1-37:38 see also: Ex 14:14; Dt 1:30; 20:4; 2 Kgs 6:16; Ps 27:1-3; 33:16-22; Isa 10:5-32; 14:24-27; 31:4-5; Jer 17:5; Zech 4:6; )

 

As far as the Chronicler is concerned, however, the issue is already crystal clear: the king of Assyria had lumped the God of Jerusalem together with all the rest of the earth’s gods.  It was the worst kind of blasphemy to put the living God into the same category as “the work of men’s hands” (v 19).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 376-77)

 

In Isaiah 22 and elsewhere, Hezekiah’s defensive measures were condemned because “you did not look to him who did it, or have regard for him who planned it long ago”.  By the time of the Chronicler, however, Hezekiah had become a model of the faithful king; the earlier accounts themselves indicate development in this direction.  In this sermon, therefore, he in fact puts into Hezekiah’s mouth words from Isaiah himself, as well as from other passages, to make clear that Hezekiah’s trust was indeed in God, and not in the precautionary measures just recorded.  This trust is fully vindicated in vv 20ff.  Hezekiah, like Asa, Jehoshaphat and others before him, thus paradoxically becomes an example of the man of faith for whom the Chronicler will have believed Isaiah was seeking, and whom certainly he wished to hold as a pattern before his readers.  (H.G.M. Williamson, The New Century Bible Commentary, 1 & 2 Chr, 382)

 

Sennacherib, King of Assyria, threatens Hezekiah by saying that the God of Israel cannot save Hezekiah anymore than any of the other gods were able to save them from the fighting machine of the Assyrians.  But Sennacherib makes several erroneous conclusions: 1- That he is more powerful that the God of Israel.  2- That the gods of the other nations were real.  3- That the God of Israel is not fighting for Hezekiah.  4- That he himself was the one who orchestrated his prior victories.  5- That he is in control of his destiny.

 

The prophecies of Isaiah directly condemned Hezekiah’s actions.  The book of Isaiah notes that Hezekiah “saw that the City of David had many breaches…stored up water in the Lower Pool…and tore down houses to strengthen the wall…but…did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago” (Isa 22:9-11).  The prophet viewed Hezekiah’s military preparations as a rejection of dependence on God.  The evidence weighs heavily in favor of understanding Hezekiah’s actions in this section as an example of wavering faith.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 450-51)

 

Hezekiah undoubtedly said the appropriate things, as any wise king would in these circumstances.  Yet, it is difficult to avoid the suspicion that the chronicler assumed his readers knew Hezekiah’s inward motivations from the prophecies of Isaiah.  Isaiah offered insight into Hezekiah’s deeper motivations when he rebuked the king saying, “The Lord…called you on that day to weep and wail…but see, there is joy and revelry…” (Isa 22:12-14).  From this evidence we must conclude that the religious dimensions of Hezekiah’s speech were mere outward conformity to the royal rites of Holy War (see 13:4-12; 20:15-17).

Hezekiah played his political role well.  He alluded to God’s word to Joshua at the beginning of Israel’s conquest: Be strong and courageous (32:7 see Josh 1:6, 9; see also 15:7; 1 Chr 19:13; 22:13; 28:10, 20).  Several times, he affirmed the Holy War ideal that God would be “with” his people and “help” them (32:7b-8; see 13:12).  All the while, however, Isaiah’s prophecies revealed that Hezekiah’s confidence was actually in the help he hoped to gain from his own military might and alliances with other nations (see 32:31; Isa 31:1-9), a strategy which the Chronicler repeatedly denounced (see 2 Kgs 18:20-25).

The Chronicler closed this section by noting that Hezekiah’s speech worked wonderfully.  The people gained confidence (32:8b).  Yet, once again the Chronicler hinted at the true nature of the event.  The confidence of Judah was in what Hezekiah king of Judah said, not in the Lord (32:8b).  There was much “eating of meat and drinking of wine” (Isa 22:13), at a time when the people should have “put on sackcloth” (Isa 22:12).  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 451-52)

 

If it pleased him he could stop or even reverse the motion of the earth relative to the sun (Josh 10:12-14; Isa 38:7-8).  And if he could do that he certainly could, without working up a sweat, manipulate the weather to deny rain or send down hail in judgment (Ex 9:22-26; Josh 10:11; 1 Kgs 17:1; 18:41-45; 2 Chr 6:26-27; Rv 8:7-9).  He could manipulate or even create new natural phenomena to turn the day dark (Ex 10:21-23; Lk 23:44-45) or to cause the light from a distant star to appear on the earth at just the moment and in just the right quadrant of the sky to guide travelers where he wished them to go (Mt 2:1-2, 9).  And if he could do that, I seriously doubt it would be an unreasonable burden for him to calm a storm, walk on water, or control the healing process of the body (for example, Mt 14:22-27; 15:30-31; Mk 4:35-41).  Those who are troubled by such possibilities have a problem somewhat deeper in their concept of God than simply disbelief in what are called “miracles.”  (D. James Kennedy, What is God Like?, 145)

 

The battle isn’t ours to win but ours to stand.  (D. James Kennedy, What is God Like?, 152)

 

Like Asa before him (14:6-7), Hezekiah is well-prepared to defend his kingdom.  However, also like Asa, Hezekiah puts his trust in the Lord, rather than his own strength (32:7-8; see 14:11).  In neither case is this a contradiction.  Both kings are aware that all things come from God, including their own capabilities.  Hence, the preparations of Asa and Hezekiah reflect, not a lack of trust, but a faithful response to God.  Asa and Hezekiah realize that victory belongs to God, and is awarded as God sees fit.  However, their preparations become, in part, the means by which God brings victory.  To paraphrase Louis Pasteur, perhaps grace, like chance, favors the prepared mind.  (Steven S. Tuell, Interpretation: 1 & 2 Chr, 226)

 

We must realize that it is not Satan who defeats us; it is our openness to him.  To perfectly subdue the devil we must walk in the “shelter of the Most High” (Ps 91:1).   Satan is tolerated for one purpose: the warfare between the devil and God’s saints thrust us into Christlikeness, where the nature of Christ becomes our only place of rest and security.   God allows warfare to facilitate His eternal plan, which is to make man in His image.   (Francis Frangipane; The Three Battlegrounds as quoted in Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word, 323)

 

 

CONCLUSION/APPLICATION: What does this message have to do with Christ and me?:

 

I will hear and know of no other God, but I will [instead] look and listen solely to this Christ.  And if I hear Him, I already know on what terms I am with God; and I need no longer torment myself, as I did before, with any anxiety about atonement and reconciliation with God.  For in this picture all wrath and terror vanish, and only grace and comfort shine forth.  (Luther’s Works, American Edition, Vol. 24, 98)

 

Karl Barth expressed the same thought in his massive treatment of reconciliation in CD, IV (esp. IV/1).  He, too, stressed that in order to exercise His lordship in our behalf, God in Christ became a servant (§59), and that in order to carry through His decisive action, He submitted voluntarily to the Passion.  Nowhere, in fact, did God demonstrate His omnipotence more fully than by showing that even in the impotence of suffering and death He could still be almighty and accomplish His own purposes, not just in spite of, but precisely by means of the apparently victorious might of His opponents.  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 595)

 

Was this invasion a test from the Lord?  It seems so.  This one he would pass; a later one he would not (see 32:31).  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 369)

 

 

A-  Jesus is Emmanuel. (Isa 7:14; Mt 1:23; Jn 1:1-12)

 

The key to the final victory was that he looked beyond the threat to the power and glory of the Lord, and saw to it that he and his people were in a right relation to their God.  (Michael Wilcock, The Message of Chr, 253)

 

B-  All power and authority has been given to Jesus to give to those who trust in Christ. (1 Chr 29:11-13; Ps 2; Jer 32:27; Mt 11:27; 19:26; 26:64; 28:18; Eph 1:18-23; 3:20-21; Phil 2:9-11; Col 2:9-15; 1 Pt 3:18-22)

 

For most of us, if there is a place where we want to limit the omnipotence of God, it is in respect to what He does to us.  Prayer for us is often a kind of room service menu, and we call in our orders to the heavenly bellhop.  Prayer becomes the means by which we tell God what He needs to do for us.  Prayer is our power to control His power.

Mary did not allow her concept of God to degenerate to such a level.  She knew who God was and she knew who Mary was.  He was Lord; she was servant.  Her will was to submit to God’s will.  God gives the orders.  Gabriel did not come to Mary to request a virgin birth or to negotiate the plan of redemption.  Gabriel came with an announcement.  That is why this portion of Scripture is called the “Annunciation.”  No one calls it the “Negotiation.”  (R.C. Sproul, The Character of God, 130)

 

God’s omnipotence is indirectly implied in the effect ascribed to faith (Mk 9:23 par. Mt 17:20, “all things are possible to him who believes”), because faith puts the divine power at the disposal of the believer.  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 592)

 

“Power belongeth unto God,” and to Him alone.  Not a creature in the entire universe has an atom of power save what God delegates.  But God’s power is not acquired, nor does it depend upon any recognition by any other authority.  It belongs to Him inherently.

God’s power is like Himself, self-existent, self-sustained.  The mightiest of men cannot add so much as a shadow of increased power to the Omnipotent One.  He sits on no buttressed throne and leans on no assisting arm.  His court is not maintained by His couriers, nor does it borrow its splendor from His creatures.  He is Himself the great central source and Originator of all power (C.F. Spurgeon)  (Arthur W. Pink, The Attributes of God, 47)

 

Victory begins with the name of Jesus on your lips, but it will not be consummated until the nature of Jesus is in your heart.  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 18)

 

Satan fears virtue.  He is terrified of humility; he hates it.  He sees a humble person and it sends chills down his back.  His hair stands up when Christians kneel down, for humility is the surrender of the soul to God.  The devil trembles before the meek because, in the very areas where he once had access, there stands the Lord, and Satan is terrified of Jesus Christ.  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 21)

 

The one who would have God’s power must lead a life of self-denial.  There are many things which are not sinful in the ordinary understanding of the word sin, but which hinder spirituality and rob men of power.  I do not believe that any man can lead a luxurious life, overindulge his natural appetites, indulge extensively in dainties, and enjoy the fullness of God’s power.  The gratification of the flesh and the fullness of the Spirit do not go hand in hand.  “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other” (Gal 5:17).  Paul wrote: “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection” (1 Cor 9:27; see ASV, Greek; note also Eph 5:18).  (R. A. Torrey, The Baptism with the Holy Spirit, 75-76)

 

O how mighty is the believer, who, in deep distrust of his own power, casting off from him all spirit of self-dependence, looks simply and fully at Jesus, and goes not forth to meet his enemy, only as he is “strong in the strength that is in Christ.”  (Octavius Winslow, Personal Declension and Revival of Religion in the Soul, 199)

 

Why does God put up with us?  Why does God defend us?  Not because of anything in us but for his own sake and for the sake of the ultimate David, Jesus Christ.  He is committed to us not because of us but because of our Substitute.  That is our strong position with God.  (Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., Preaching the Word: Isaiah, 219)

 

When you are opposed for the Lord’s sake, remember that you’re not really the one being attacked.  Christ is.  And he will defend his cause.  Therefore, if your cause is his cause, he will defend you.  If the glory of Christ is what you’re living for, he will defend you against everything.  (Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., Preaching the Word: Isaiah, 215)

 

It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self:  to Jesus: but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ.  He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.”   All theses are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within.  But, the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self:  he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.” remember, therefore, it is not your hold of Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not your joy in Christ that saves you—it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument—it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to your hand with which you art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to your hope, but to Jesus, the source of your hope; look not to your faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.  We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul.  If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “Looking unto Jesus.”   Keep your eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon your mind; when you wake in the morning look to him; when you lie down at night look to him.  Do not let your hopes or fears come between you and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail you.  —C. H. Spurgeon  (Alistair Begg, Pathway to Freedom, 228-29)

 

C-  No matter how faithless you’ve been, He remains faithful. (Mk 10:27; Lk 18:27; Rom 1:16-17; 8:31-39; 2 Tm 2:13; 1 Jn 1:9)

 

Repentance precedes deliverance, and deliverance often leads to healing in other areas.  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 31)

 

You may be tempted to surrender just a token sin or some minor fault, while allowing your most serious iniquity to remain entrenched and well-hidden.  Let us realize, therefore, that the energies we expend in keeping our sins secret are the actual “materials” of which a stronghold is made.  The demon you are fighting is actually using your thoughts to protect his access to your life.  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 32)

 

We must realize that it is not Satan who defeats us; it is our openness to him.  To perfectly subdue the devil we must walk in the “shelter of the Most High” (Ps 91:1).  Satan is tolerated for one purpose: the warfare between the devil and God’s saints thrusts us into Christlikeness, where the nature of Christ becomes our only place of rest and security.  God allows warfare to facilitate His eternal plan, which is to make man in His image (see Gen 1:26).   (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 50-51)

 

When the kings of Judah repent of infidelity, they receive the blessing of God.  The next episode of Hezekiah’s reign follows this pattern (32:24-26).  Here Hezekiah had wavered in his dependence on God (32:25).  In the end, however, he relied not on human strength, but called on God through prayer (32:26a).  This shift prompted immediate blessings from God.

The Chronicler reported this example of Hezekiah’s inconsistent faith and prayer to speak to the needs of his post-exilic readers.  As those who had returned from exile struggled with the harsh realities of reuniting and rebuilding the kingdom, they certainly failed to live up to the ideals of perfect fidelity.  What hope was there for those who had wavered?  The example of Hezekiah illustrated that even those who failed could find mercy as they called upon God for help.  Blessings were not reserved for those who reached perfect obedience, but for those who in the end came to repentance.  (Richard L. Pratt, 1 & 2 Chr, A Mentor Commentary, 455)

 

The test of a true believer is not that one never falls but that, when it happens, he or she repents sincerely and, drawing on God’s grace, continues along the Christian path, chastened but not devastated by the experience.  To “walk in the light” includes bringing into God’s light the mistakes we make and finding forgiveness and new confidence to carry on (1 Jn 1:7-2:2).  It is such fallibly loyal servants whom God recognizes as men and women after His own heart.  (Leslie Allen, Mastering the OT, 1, 2 Chr, 405-06)

 

All distrust is founded in a doubting of his truth, as if he would not be as good as his word; or of his omniscience, as if he had not a memory to retain his word; or of his power, as if he could not be as great as his word.  We measure the infinite power of God by the short line of our understandings, as if infinite strength were bounded within the narrow compass of our finite reason; as if he could do no more than we were able to do.  (Stephen Charnock, The Existence and Attributes of God, 93)

 

Sin is what you do when your heart is not satisfied with God.  No one sins out of duty.  We sin because it holds out some promise of happiness.  That promise enslaves us until we believe that God is more to be desired than life itself.  (Ps 63:3).  Which means that the power of sin’s promise is broken by the power of God’s.  All that God promises to be for us in Jesus stands over against what sin promises to be for us without him.  (John Piper, Future Grace, 9-10)

 

Instead of mourning over the sins we cannot master, the pride, self-will, lack of love, or disobedience, let us come to the root of the matter and confess our terrible sin of unbelief.  Let our faith grow in the greatness of God’s power revealed in Christ.    (Andrew Murray, Receiving Power from God, 94)

 

This is why so many moderns have no kingdom power.  You cannot enjoy a kingdom unless you are submitted to the king.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Vol. One, 158)

 

The attitude of Hezekiah in this crisis is spiritually exemplary.  He presented a great contrast with both Ahaz (cf. ch 7) and his own former attitude (2 Kgs 18:14-16).  The account in 2 Kings places the visit of the field commander after Hezekiah’s first payment of tribute to the king of Assyria at Lachish.  Many critics have seen the two as different and irreconcilable accounts of the same event, but this is surely unnecessary.  That the king of Assyria should demand tribute and then absolute surrender is not without historical parallel, nor is the change in Hezekiah’s attitude inconceivable.  Many a believer has been led by the grace of God from conduct inconsistent with his faith to a more confident trust in his God.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 6, 230)

 

PROCLAMATION OF A NATIONAL FAST DAY

March 30th, 1863

President Abraham Lincoln

It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord . . .

We know that by his divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world; may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may not be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?  We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven.  We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity.  We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God.  We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, through the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too             proud to pray to God that made us:

It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness:

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views, of the senate, I do by this my proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer.  And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite at their several place of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

 

Worship point: You want to worship?   Meditate upon the God of all creation who made all that is in the cosmos ex nihilo . . . from nothing.  And yet this God of infinite power and resource wants to invest everything He owns in you as a child, an heir. 

 

Spiritual Challenge: Contemplate God and His attributes.  He is truth so He cannot lie and therefore all His promises will be fulfilled.  He is love so all He does is loving.  He is gracious, compassionate, merciful, patient and kind and He knows all that is possible to know, He occupies every space at every time, and He has infinite power.  So what is your obstacle in or resistance to trusting Him completely?  Finally contemplate the absurdity of making such a being as God your assistant.

 

If no one ever thinks we’re crazy for the way we stick our necks out in trusting the promises of God, are we really living by faith?  If no one ever asks us to explain the hope that is in us (1 Pt 3:15), is our hope any different from their hope?  Is our Christianity so audacious that it requires nothing less than a religious conversion to enter in?  One reason we see so few conversions today is that our Christianity isn’t an alternative to convert to.  It’s padded, safe, predictable worldliness with occasional stop-offs at church.  We think it’s God’s job to ensure our undisturbed routines.  God thinks it’s our job to prove how real He is in the real world today.  (Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., Preaching the Word: Isaiah, 210-11) (bold emphasis Pastor Keith)

 

 

 

Never give up!

 

 

 

Never give up!

 

 

 

Never give up!

 

I can do all things thru Christ who gives me strength

But sometimes I wonder what He can do thru me.

No great success to show, no glory on my own.

Yet in my weakness he is there to let me know

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone.

He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on.

Raised in his power the weak become strong

His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect.

We can only know the power that He holds

When we truly see how deep our weakness goes,

His strength in us begins when ours comes to an end

He hears our humble cry and proves again

His strength is perfect when our strength is gone

He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on

Raised in His power the weak become strong

His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect.  (His Strength is Perfect, by Steven Curtis Chapman)

 

Quotes to Note:

As we all know, this was not the end of Jewish history, for the exiled people of Judah did not pine away.  Instead they flourished by the waters of Babylon, and reorganized their scriptures to create an unambiguously monotheistic, congregational religion, independent of place and emancipated from the rites of Solomon’s destroyed temple in Jerusalem.  Moreover, the revised Jewish faith, tempered in exile, subsequently gave birth to Christianity and Islam, the two most powerful religions of our age, and of course also retains its own, distinctive following around the world and especially in the contemporary state of Israel.

None of this could have come to pass if the kingdom of Judah had disappeared in 701 B.C. as the kingdom of Israel had done a mere 21 years earlier in 722 B.C.  On that occasion, the exiles from Israel soon lost their separate identity.  By accepting commonsense views about the limits of divine power, they abandoned the worship of Jahweh, who had failed to protect them, and became the “Ten Lost Tribes” of biblical history.  In all probability, the people of Judah would have met the same fate if the Assyrian army had attacked and captured Jerusalem in 701 B.C. and treated its inhabitants as they had treated those of Samaria and other conquered places before.  If so, Judaism would have disappeared from the face of the earth and the two daughter religions of Christianity and Islam could not possibly have come into existence.  In short, our world would be profoundly different in ways we cannot really imagine.  (Robert Cowley, What If?, 5-6)

 

Uniquely, the inhabitants of the small, weak, and dependent kingdom of Judah had the temerity to believe that their God, Jahweh, was the only true God, whose power extended over all the earth so that everything that happened was in accordance with his will.  The circumstances of the Assyrian withdrawal from the walls of Jerusalem in 701 B.C. confirmed this implausible belief, proving God’s universal power to pious and eager believers more clearly and far more convincingly than ever before.  This makes it the most fateful might-have-been of all recorded history.  (Robert Cowley, What If?, 6-7)

 

Is it possible that the Lord has placed both the idealist and the pragmatist into one body of faith so that each one might learn from the other?  The Chronicler says, “Of course!”  Both must find rest for their souls in the words and promises of God.  The pragmatist must be on his guard so that he doesn’t start to depend on all his actions and practicality to save him.  God can win the victory with or without his work.  The idealist must be on his guard so that he doesn’t grow carelessly confident and think that his sinful flesh has somehow disappeared and therefore requires no further discipline (see 1 Cor 9:25-27).  After all, why make it easy for the enemy?  (Paul O. Wendland, The People’s Bible, 2 Chr, 372)

 

In the NT the great embodiment of this redemptive omnipotence is the resurrection of believers (Mt 22:29; Mk 12:24) and specifically the resurrection of Christ (Rom 4:17, 21, 24; Eph 1:19ff.).  God’s power is evidenced in the whole process of redemption (Mt 19:26; Mk 10:27; Rom 8:31; Eph 3:7, 20; 1 Pt 1:5; Rv 11:17).  (Geoffrey W. Bromiley, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, 593)

 

 

A man with God is always in the majority. — John Knox

 

Christ:

Sufficient

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