Monday, July 1, 2013

Because You Prayed

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Monday, July 1, 2013:  II Kings 18:13-19:37

Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard.’   II Kings 19:20 (NKJV)

Hezekiah was one of the good kings of Judah.  He found himself in a face-off confrontation with Sennacherib, king of Assyria.  The Assyrian army had just carried the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity (II Kings 18:11).  Now Sennacherib set his sights on Jerusalem and brought his army to the walls of the city. 

A War of Words

The nature of the "battle" between Hezekiah and Sennacherib is a picture of the spiritual battle we fight against the bondage of the devil.  Just as the Assyrian army sought to captivate Jerusalem, so also the hosts of hell seek to lay siege to and ensnare the follower of Jesus.  Satan always seeks to carry us off onto bondage.  He seeks to enslave the believer to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life (I John 2:16).  We are in a battle.

Satan's first tactic is identical to that of Sennacherib.  The king of Assyria sent his envoy, Rabshakeh, to shout insults, threats, and accusations at Jerusalem.  These words spoke utter defeat to Jerusalem telling them that their God would not help them.

Hezekiah was distressed by this verbal attack on the morale of Judah.  He sent his servant, Eliakim, to entreat the help of Isaiah the prophet.  It is vividly descriptive how Eliakim and Isaiah understand the nature of this battle. It is primarily a war of words.

In II Kings 19:4, Eliakim calls on God to "hear ALL THE WORDS of Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria (Satan) has sent to reproach the living God."  He goes on to ask that "the Lord REBUKE THE WORDS" of Sennacherib.  Isaiah then speaks for the Lord saying, "Thus says the Lord: 'Do not be afraid of THE WORDS which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me.'" (II Kings 19:6)

The Prayer that Turns the Battle

Hezekiah knew how to win spiritual battles!  He knew that the battle is the Lord's.  Rather than worry and fret, he "went up to the house of the Lord" (II Kings 19:14).  There he spread out before God the hate-filled, threatening letter that Sennacherib had sent him ... AND HE PRAYED. 

The prayer of Hezekiah in II Kings 19:15-19 is a classic call to God for His delivering help.  We do well to take prayers like this and make them our own.  He exalts God as King and Creator (vs. 15).  He petitions God to hear and see the threats of the enemy (vs.16).  He calls on God for His salvation (vs. 19).  All of this is aimed at the glory of God!

God responds through Isaiah telling Hezekiah "BECAUSE YOU HAVE PRAYED TO ME ... I have heard" (II Kings 19:20) and "will give you the victory that you need."  My friend, Keith Roberts, has written a book entitled Why God Waits for You to Pray.  Keith has taught across America the truth that "nothing happens until someone prays."    It is an awesome truth how God takes our simple prayers and alters history.

The Power of the Spoken Word of God

The Bible is filled with stories of God's miraculous intervention.  Judah turned back Assyria without any outward effort of their own.  Prayer turned the day!  God sent an angel who easily routed the foreign army driving them all the way back home to Nineveh (II Kings 19:35-36). 

Isaiah prophesied this victory into existence.  Into this war of words, Isaiah released the Word of the Lord (II Kings 19:21-31).  No matter how many lies the enemy may concoct, God's released Word is more powerful and more authoritative.  When Hezekiah started praying, Isaiah started prophesying.  The result was the growth and success of God's people.  Isaiah said it this way:  "...the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward" (II Kings 19:30).  Not only will Judah ESCAPE, they will also FLOURISH!

Your prayers and my prayers are more powerful than we realize.  For Judah, the prayer of their king turned the day.  How many battles are you fighting right now that are WAITING FOR YOU TO PRAY?  Stop slugging it out in the flesh, and get on your knees.  God will help you... not because you are good enough... not because you deserve it... not because you need it... but BECAUSE YOU PRAYED. 

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