Saturday, January 16, 2010
I'm reading through Isaiah 37 where Hezekiah has made a plea to the Lord due to the threat of King Sennacherib of Assyria. He prayed hard to the God he knew could deliver him. So Isaiah brings God's response, and it gets my heart fired up. It starts in verse 22 and goes through verse 35.
Verse 23 is the initial kicker for me. God mocks Sennacherib by asking basically who the feez homeboy thinks he's messing with. He answers His own question by calling Himself "THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL". Wow. I see in Zondervan's NIV concordance that this Name for God is used many times in Isaiah, a couple of times in Jeremiah and the Psalms. (I might have missed an instance in my quick skim, but I think that's it.) All of Isaiah is about God's love relationship with Israel: various threats from nearby kingdoms, His constant desire that they would turn to trust Him instead of the works of their hands or weak alliances, and His radical pursuit of their hearts. He does this through blessing and cursing, bringing attacks and defending them against others, and telling them of future destruction and salvation through Isaiah. I can't imagine that he was a very popular dude.
But wow, when Sennacherib sends his henchman, the Rabshekah, to declare his future victory over Israel, I picture a quasi-WWF scene where the obnoxious ignorant dude grabs the mic and talks a bunch of smack about how bad he'll put a hurtin' on those folks, making sure to mock all that they trust in and see as important. And he's not doing so bad until he lumps the Holy One of Israel into that heap of things he's making light of. Um, who has that ever gone well for? I'm sure they taught history back then, but this kid needs brushing up...for serious. He must've really been convincing, though, because Hezekiah and HIS folks are shaken up. They're in sackcloth and ashes mode immediately. And Hezekiah does what he knows works: he takes it to the sovereign God of the universe, the Holy One of Israel.
And God, in His usual format, does NOT mince words. He points out that He's always been in control, regardless of who Assyria has conquered. He's still been writing that script (verses 26-28). Then in verse 29, He speaks of how he will put His reigns on them. He will put His hook in their nose and make them go where He wants. Can you imagine? How humiliating?! He goes in until verse 35 explaining in detail exactly how He will bring that about.
And then He does. One angel goes out and mows down 185,000 of those Assyrian dudes. He does NOT mess. But what kills me is that even after this and after displays of God's power/strength/provision/protection in my own life, the Israelites still doubted. They still turned at times to trust something else. And so do I. How tragic. This God Who has written this beautiful love story to a people He made to KNOW HIM about redemption, salvation, and eternal communion with Him, the Source of all that is GOOD, loves and knows ME. Read that sentence again. Write it on my heart, Lord, the Holy One of Israel.