March 24, 2008

"Spread it out before the LORD"

“Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD”2 Kings 19.14

Hezekiah was king in Judah during treacherous times. Sennacherib, the powerful king of Assyria, had already ransacked God’s northern kingdom, Israel. His troops had overrun the cities, carried the people into exile, and resettled the land with Assyrian squatters. Now only two of the original twelve tribes remained in the Promised Land, with Hezekiah as their king. And Hezekiah knew that they were next. He was no match for Sennacherib. Without the LORD’s help, it would be only a matter of time before Sennacherib was breathing down his neck, and burning down his city. And then came the letter from Sennacherib’s general: “Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you saying, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands…Did the gods of those nations which my fathers destroyed deliver them?” (2 Kings 19.10-12). ‘Your God can’t save you’ in other words. ‘You’d better listen to us instead of calling out to Him.’

Did you ever receive a ‘letter’ like that … a threatening, discouraging, accusing message from the enemy? Maybe it came in the form of a letter; maybe a phone call; maybe a dream; maybe in the form of overwhelming guilt. Did you ever receive a message to the effect that God was through with you; or that God was unable (or unwilling) to help you; or that God was, after all, not really on your side?

Even if you know it’s not true (and Hezekiah did), it is still difficult to absorb the devil’s darts of discouragement and doubt. So what do you do when the devil sends you a nasty letter? Notice Hezekiah…

You don’t write a nasty letter back to the devil (or to the person he used as his secretary). You don’t get angry with the secretary. You don’t take the devil’s discouragement to heart. You don’t stew over it. No, none of these things. You read the letter, as Hezekiah did. But then you “spread it out before the LORD.” When you face doubts, discouragements, and accusations you don’t let the devil have the final say. You “spread it out before the LORD.” You let Him read the letter. You let Him show you if there is any validity to the criticism or conviction. And, most importantly, you let Him write the response. You don’t need to write a defensive reply to the devil. Instead you lay down your pen, lay down your pride, and “spread it out before the LORD” in prayer, as Hezekiah did in 2 Kings 19.15-19 (you’d be encouraged if you read over his wonderful prayer!). Do this, and the LORD will fight your battles. Sennacherib’s army lost 185,000 foot soldiers without a spear being slung from the walls of Jerusalem. And He will fight for you to, if you “spread it out before the LORD.”

So, what sorts of discouraging letters has the devil sent you lately? How has the accuser been attacking you? And have you been defending yourself; fighting back; or maybe listening a little too closely to the accusations? It’s time to give Him the ‘letter’ and leave it in His hands. It’s time to “spread it out before the LORD.”

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