Sunday, July 21, 2013
Strength and Courage
2Chr. 32:7 “Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him; for there is one greater with us than with him.
2Chr. 32:8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” The people were encouraged by the words of King Hezekiah of Judah.
King Hezekiah called the people of Judah back to a faithful relationship with God. They had stopped worshiping the foreign gods and Hezekiah had the places of worship destroyed. Now, as a result of their actions the enemy was approaching and as that day came they prepared for what awaited them. Hezekiah sent his men outside the city walls where they filled up and contaminated all of the springs of water. They knew that even a large army could not survive for long without water! At the same time they established a system for water to be brought into the city so that the inhabitants would not suffer. The walls of Jerusalem were examined and fortified. Finally the King gathered his people together to prepare them for the siege which they knew would lie ahead. Here is a critical moment as he encourages the people and reminds them that it doesn't matter how many troops may surround the city, God is still stronger. They were to be strong and courageous, not in themselves, but in the fact that they were the people of God.
The people of Judah found themselves in this situation -- at odds with the world around them because of their faithfulness to God. When Hezekiah stopped the idol worship around the country, the neighboring leaders saw it as unfaithfulness to their gods. In a sense, the people of Judah may have appeared as being unreligious or unfaithful in their god worship because they refused to worship the foreign gods and God alone! When a follower of Jesus Christ takes a stand and refuses to do the things of the world, they can find themselves in great difficulty. The world may not understand and think that you are being unfaithful to them. The people of Judah learned this and discovered that faithfulness to God has a price tag attached in regard to our relationship with the world.
The people of Judah also discovered that they had to become personally involved in their own fate. They could not just sit around and expect God to do everything for them but there was something that happened when they partnered together with God. They thought through their circumstances and then went to work. They went out and stopped up the wells and they examined their own defenses and made them even stronger but fixing any weak spots in the wall and by adding new towers for look out. What about in our own lives? Do we simply walk into the midst of danger and/or temptation and expect God to take care of us without us using the wisdom that God has provided for us? We are to be wise and use all the resources that God has provided for us. If we are facing enemy attack, maybe we ought to try to figure out how to cut off the resources to that enemy! At the same time we must examine ourselves and see where we might be weak and if so, we must work to become strong! We must build our own watchtowers so that we are not taken by surprise. Much of our strength will come from our personal walk with the Jesus Christ. We must spend time with him both in prayer and in the reading of the word. The word of God can help to fill in the holes where we are weak. But there may be things that we have to do physically to protect ourselves. Maybe we need to move out of a tempting environment. Maybe it's certain friendships that have created a weakness in our lives and we have to move away from them. Whatever is required -- we must take personal action and become engaged in our own defense against the enemy.
Finally, Hezekiah did what so many kings before him had forgotten to do -- he trusted in God. He reminded the people that it didn't matter how large the enemy army might be -- God is larger and greater. Strength and courage come by trusting in God! It was time to put all the days of old behind them. They were being attacked for being followers of God and in the midst of it all they needed to put their trust in God.
How often are we attacked because we are trying to faithfully follow God. There will be those days, weeks, months and maybe even years that we have to drag on and live through the battle. In the midst of it all we must remember that we are not alone but that this battle and every "battle belongs to the Lord." (I Sam. 17:47) Therefore we can take courage and we can be strong "for if God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom. 8:31) And the fear which the enemy hopes to kindle within us simply dies out because "there is one greater with us than with him." The Lord our God will go with us and help us to fight the battles of this life. Our strength and courage comes from him!
Lord, please help me to examine my walls and may they be fortified by you. Amen.