“And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: “O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God.”
II Kings 19:14-16 NKJV
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
Acts 4:29-31 NKJV
As Christians, we battle between the mortal and the immortal. Like any human being, we find ourselves concerned about temporal threats that we may encounter. We worry about matters of life and death, and we seek safety. It is easy to become consumed with those concerns and lose sight of the mission we have been given. We forget that God is sovereign over it all.
In the relative comfort of life here in the United States, we perceive a threat and we fall to pieces. We do not like anything coming into our lives that is uncomfortable. This is especially true in the church. Many a pastor has chosen to not preach from certain passages in fear of reprisals should someone be offended, and become a persecutor.
In nations where the Gospel is forbidden, and Christians a small persecuted minority, pastors and leaders willingly go forth and share the message of the cross, even under threat of death.
In my time in II Kings, I read the account of Hezekiah, fearful of an impending attack from the Asyrians, receiving a threatening letter. He read the letter and then took it to the Lord. He took the temporal threat, made by a fleshly king and presented to the King of KIngs.
As I read, I thought of the fledgling church, facing similar threats in Acts chapter 4. They prayed together and placed it in His hands. They did not ask for safety, but boldness, that His name be glorified. In praying, they invited the Lord into the situation and turned it over to Him.
As a result of prayer, God intervened and Sennacherib was turned away, later to be done in by his own. God demonstrated His sovereign power. Likewise, the baby church, crying out to Jesus, was comforted as He literally rocked the place where they were.
We, of the New Testament age, can gain much from these accounts as our forerunners showed us that God can be depended upon, that He is faithful.
I urge people to read the bible if they are having problems with faith. It is full of stories of ordinary people who put their trust in an extraordinary God. These are people who have gone on before, witnessing the faithfulness of God.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV
Brothers and sisters, we are going to face many of the things our fellow believers are facing in the rest of the world. They are facing persecution that has increased exponentially over the last few decades. We in the west are long overdue.
There are some who think that we have not faced deep persecution because of some divine protection, in reality we have not received it, because we are not perceived as a threat.
We have moved from a body of believers sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ under threat of death, to a social/ political group gathering to complain about sin sickness taking over the world, but doing nothing to spread the remedy.
The good thing about persecution is that it is great purifier, as it helps us to clarify what is most important. I suspect that we will have more in common with that early church, than the cruise ship we now refer to as western Christianity.
Let us go boldly to share the Gospel anew, with the confidence that God goes before us, fighting for us and that He will complete His work. He is Jehovah Saboath, the Lord of Hosts!
We know the end of the story. Let us go forth and endure whatever comes, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let it be said of us that Jesus knows our works, that we were dead and came back to life.
““And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Revelation 2:8-10 NKJV
Let’s pray for those opportunities to serve the Lord, and the courage to stand for Him when it becomes difficult to do so.
THE PRAYER CHAIR IS OPEN! Send me your requests!