Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A powerful duel

What to do with absolute power? That’s the question.

Here’s the scenario: the Assyrian king Sennacherib had sent a huge army to Jerusalem to conquer it as he’d conquered so many cities in the area. His general taunted Judah’s king, Hezekiah, and the people: you can’t resist the most powerful army on earth.

And, he added slyly, your God can’t stand up to us any more than any other god in the region has defied us. We are absolute power.

Hezekiah refused to buckle. He shed his kingly robes for the burlap of humility and went to God. He didn’t count his generals and number his soldiers. He didn’t strategize with his advisors. He laid out the problem before God.

And it was a classic dual: God vs. Sennacherib. Sennacherib was supremely confident, having never lost to a god before.

But this was no battle between swords and statues of silver. Sennacherib’s army was decimated in the night by the angel of God and he went running home to Nineveh, to meet the ultimate irony.

People in those ancient days understood that gods ruled in particular regions. Sennacherib assumed he was safe in Nineveh under the wing of his own god, Nisroch. But it was there, in the sanctuary of Nisroch, that Sennacherib died at the hands of his own sons.

Even with home field advantage, Nisroch was unable to defend the mighty king. Sennacherib died in the presence of his own god after being unable to pierce God’s defense of Jerusalem.

What a contrast in kings, between Hezekiah who came into God’s presence in humility while Sennacherib came in pride and confidence in his own power.

And what a contrast between deity, between God who is powerful and other gods who are smoke and mirrors.

Where do we rush when difficulties come? Hezekiah put on humble robes and trusted God. It made all the difference.

"O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.”

Isaiah 37:16

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