Amen, well I want you to turn with me this morning for our reading to 2 Chronicles chapter 32, 2 Chronicles chapter 32, and the title for my message this morning is: 'The King's Battle for the Mind of His People', the King's battle for the mind of his people - 2 Chronicles 32, and we're going to read from verses 1 to 23. Before we read let me just fill in some of the context for you. The mighty Assyrian empire is starting to march over the Middle East and take control of that part of the world. The Assyrian empire, if you're not familiar with it, extended from the Persian Gulf - which, if you imagine that this middle square here behind me is the whole strip of Israel just before the Mediterranean Sea, if you imagine the Mediterranean Sea over here and this is Israel. Israel in the divided kingdom stage, Israel is in the North, and Judah is in the South - the ten tribes to the North, and the two tribes to the South. Way over here you have the Persian Gulf, now that sea that is surrounded by land - where much of our forces and navy were recently - you remember the Gulf War, well that's where they all set off from, the Persian Gulf. The Assyrian empire stretched from the Persian Gulf right over the Northern kingdom of Israel, down much of the coast through Philistia, right down to the very North tip of Egypt in North Africa. So this was a major kingdom that was starting to come right over the fertile crescent, right down to the South to Egypt. Now at this particular time when we come to 2 Chronicles 32, the great emperor of Assyria is the Emperor Sennacherib, and he is now almost like that great Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar - he has risen to such great power, terror and is become a scourge just like Nebuchadnezzar after him had become. He is the oppressor of the known world of that day - OK? He is the Adolf Hitler, he is the Napoleon, he is the Alexander the Great, he is the conqueror of his day - so I want you to have that, please, in your mind.
He is aiming to raise a boundless monarchy for himself upon the ruins of all of his neighbours. Like every conqueror he covers the land, he sacks and destroys and pillages the people, and upon that destruction he set up his kingdom, nation after nation that he conquers, until he has control of that whole area. Now he had lately, as we enter chapter 32, he had just taken the northern kingdom captivity - the ten tribes of Israel, the North, he has conquered them, he has mastered the kingdom of Israel, and he has carried the ten tribes away into captivity in Assyria. Now we come in chapter 32 and verse 1, now he has his sights set on the southern kingdom, the city of Jerusalem, and the two tribes. I hope that that fills in enough information so that you're not completely lost - maybe I've just lost you there now - as we begin verse 1:
"After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself", so he comes to the southern kingdom, fences himself around the cities, and he's going to win it for himself. "And when Hezekiah", that is the King of Judah, "saw that Sennacherib was come, and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem, He took counsel with his princes and his mighty men to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city: and they did help him. So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water? Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance. And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying, Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him:", look at your margin if you have a marginal version of the Scriptures, it could be translated 'there is a greater with us than with him'. Verse 8: "With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. After this did Sennacherib king of Assyria send his servants to Jerusalem, (but he himself laid siege against Lachish, and all his power with him,) unto Hezekiah king of Judah, and unto all Judah that were at Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith Sennacherib king of Assyria, Whereon do ye trust, that ye abide in the siege in Jerusalem? Doth not Hezekiah persuade you to give over yourselves to die by famine and by thirst, saying, The LORD our God shall deliver us out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Hath not the same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall worship before one altar, and burn incense upon it? Know ye not what I and my fathers have done unto all the people of other lands? were the gods of the nations of those lands any ways able to deliver their lands out of mine hand? Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed, that could deliver his people out of mine hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of mine hand? Now therefore let not Hezekiah deceive you, nor persuade you on this manner, neither yet believe him: for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people out of mine hand, and out of the hand of my fathers: how much less shall your God deliver you out of mine hand? And his servants spake yet more against the LORD God, and against his servant Hezekiah. He wrote also letters to rail on the LORD God of Israel, and to speak against him, saying, As the gods of the nations of other lands have not delivered their people out of mine hand, so shall not the God of Hezekiah deliver his people out of mine hand. Then they cried with a loud voice in the Jews' speech", in Hebrew, "unto the people of Jerusalem that were on the wall, to affright them, and to trouble them; that they might take the city. And they spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man. And for this cause Hezekiah the king, and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz, prayed and cried to heaven. And the LORD sent an angel, which cut off all the mighty men of valor, and the leaders and captains in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he was come into the house of his god, they that came forth of his own bowels slew him there with the sword. Thus the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side. And many brought gifts unto the LORD to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah: so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth".
Life, for most of us, is a battle - isn't it? We face obstacles day by day, and whether you're a Christian or not that is your life's experience: it is a battle. But especially and peculiarly for the Christian, life is a spiritual war, a spiritual battle. Time and time again throughout the word of God, and especially in the New Testament, we are told that as God's people and as individual Christians we have an enemy, and a terrifying one at that. In 1 Peter chapter 5 we are told by the apostle: 'Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour'. Paul the apostle in Ephesians chapter 6, because of his keen awareness of the devil as his adversary, and as the adversary of every child of God, tells us and them in Ephesus: 'Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles', the darts, 'of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand'.
We are in, whether we like it or not, whether we feel we have chosen it or not, we as believers are in a spiritual battle. That spiritual battle is faced on many fronts, but I think the primary battlefield for Satan is the battle of the mind. Our great adversary, the devil, the accuser, wants to be in control - that's right - of believers minds. Now this may startle you, surprise you that I'm saying such a thing, but the fact of the matter is that your mind and my mind is the control centre of our being. It is, if you like, the headquarters of the human; it is the headquarters of the Christian's operations. Without getting into too much intricate detail, the fact of the matter is that the mind within scripture is often synonymous with the heart. The heart is our seat of affections, you could sum it up by saying that it is our mind, it is our emotions, and it comprises also of our intellect and our will. So you have a threefold aspect to the mind, to the heart, or even you could call it the soul - our emotions, our feelings, our impulses; our intellect, our reasonable thought processes whereby we come to decisions; and then our volition, our will, the power that we have to actually act upon our thoughts and our feelings. It's all comprised in the heart, or we could say in the mind - and in that sense our mind is the headquarters of our operations, it is the control centre.
Even in the life, and I would say more-so in the life of the Christian, if the evil one can conquer our intellect, our emotions, and our will he has done well! I hope you would agree with me in saying that he is probably more interested in your intellect, your emotions, and your will than he is in the children of his own that inhabit this earth - for he's already got their emotions, their intellect, and their will. I think, as they talk to more and more people in the day and age in which we live, and as I even - I would have to say - look at the influences in my own life, it is astounding the extent to which even a child of God can be controlled by the evil one. I'm not saying that you can be possessed of the devil if you're a child of God, that is not what I'm saying, that's a subject for another day; but what I am saying is that if anything it is the prime desire and programme of the evil one in our world to gain as much control over the child of God and the church as he possibly can.
That is why Paul in 2 Corinthians 10 spoke these words: 'For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ'. Now note that down, it's very important - 2 Corinthians 10 and verse 3. Now if Paul speaks in that way to believers, is it not to be assumed that there are evil imaginations, and everything that tries to exalt itself against the knowledge of God over the believer - is that not an assumption that we have to make? That the devil is seeking to do this in our lives, not to bring our lives into obedience to Christ, but disobedience against Christ to obedience with Satan. His agenda, I believe, is less hidden in the 21st century in which we live. I believe he tries through popular culture, through the plethora of pornography around us, to control men's minds by lust - yes, even Christian men and women's minds, through lust. Through the onslaught of materialism he tries to control the mind by greed, by covetousness, by lust for things and wealth. Through religious rules, rituals and rites, he tries to rule even the minds of believers by a sense of legalism and self-righteousness. We could go on and on and cite many more examples to show that Satan today is assaulting violently the minds of men and women and boys and girls - even believers, perhaps primarily believers - to see if he can exploit any weakness and gain any influence over them he possibly can.
Let me just say that this is why it is so important that we are totally and utterly consecrated to the Lord Jesus. That means that everything that we are and have is given over, surrendered and dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ - every part of our being is given to His control. That's why Paul, in Romans chapter 12 verses 1 and 2, says: 'I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed', through what?, 'through the renewing of your mind'. The battle of the mind is almost certainly the greatest battle for the Christian today. Let me point out why: first, we have an imminent enemy. For King Hezekiah, he also had an imminent enemy - it was the Assyrian Emperor Sennacherib - but we do well to note that in the context of where we find this story in scripture, not only did Hezekiah face a foe without, but he also had a foe within. We'll see what that is in just a moment, but let me make the application just now so that we don't miss the point: we also, as Christians, not only have a foe without - the devil, the evil one, the world and the flesh, and all the influences from outside - but we have a foe within. Paul in Galatians chapter 5:17 said: 'For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would'. We as Christians still have that old sin nature within us, the flesh, that bias and tendency towards sin.
This is a hard battle we are in, isn't it? We have a battle with everything around us and outside of us, and the devil who seeks to bring us down; and then we see that there is an enemy within as well who is almost coming into a magnetic contact and is drawn to the fleshly things outside, because we still have this flesh inside. John Bunyan's works I would commend to you. You may be familiar with Pilgrim's Progress, I hope you've read it - but you probably haven't read his book called 'The Holy War'. It is the story of the city of Mansoul that is under the rule of Prince Emmanuel. Mansoul under the rule of Prince Emmanuel is being attacked by Diabolus, which is Latin for the devil, who is the enemy of souls. In that conflict tremendous importance is put by Bunyan on the city gates of the city of Mansoul, because that is where the main threat to the welfare of the town is expected - those gates, Eye-Gate, Ear-Gate, in fact all of the senses - now we will be looking primarily at Ear-Gate this morning, but the fact of the matter is that we must notice, just like Bunyan, that there is a criminal, there is an intruder within us, in the city of our souls there is a spy that is sympathetic to the devil himself. We must beware that we do not let the enemy exploit, the enemy without, exploit the enemy within.
How do we do that? Well, 2 Corinthians 10 tells us, we read it, that we're to bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. If you were to go home this afternoon - perish the thought - and there was a burglar in your home, and before you got into the house you noticed that there was a window smashed or something like that, and you quickly on your mobile phone rang up the police. You would hope that they would get there quickly, and perhaps arrest the man. The point of the matter is: when you see that there is an intruder, you ring the authorities, and you appeal to the authorities to arrest him. What Paul is saying here is: we live in a world that appeals to our old sinful nature, but our duty as Christians is to turn to the great authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and upon His authority arrest those thoughts and wickedness in our heart and bring them into captivity and obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now I hope you know that, because that is one of the keys to overcoming temptation in your life.
But we see here in Hezekiah's life, believe it or not, the same principle, I believe. Because, as Campbell Morgan has asked, it would seem to be a strange answer of God to the faithfulness of his servant King that a strong foe should at this moment invade the kingdom. If Hezekiah was a good King, why is God rewarding His good King by allowing the Assyrians to invade his kingdom? It seems very strange! Why is this happening? Now, to understand why it's happening you need more detail, which you find in 2 Kings 18. You find out there that Hezekiah had flung off the yoke of the bondage of the King of Assyria which his father Ahaz had consented to wear. Then because of that, because he resisted his influence and reign, we read that Sennacherib invaded Judah and in a moment of Hezekiah's weakness, Hezekiah paid him a heavy tribute. He gave him loads of treasure and money, and because of doing that he had effectively yielded to his rule in order to buy him off. He was trying to deal and trade with sin, and the result was not what he desired, because Sennacherib now demanded unconditional surrender because he had paid him this vacillation.
Now in this hour of crisis that we have in chapter 32, it's resulting from that payment - but now King Hezekiah has decided: 'I cannot surrender to the rule of Sennacherib'. With faith and courage he renews his vows to God, and he takes immediate action to embarrass his enemy. I want you to understand, so please follow with me: this is it - I'll explain it again in case you miss it - Hezekiah is a good King, a godly King, and Sennacherib has conquered so many nations, and he comes knocking on Hezekiah's door. He refuses him entry, but he invades anyway, and because he invades Hezekiah pays him a tribute to try to buy him off in a moment of weakness, but he doesn't realise that you can't buy off the evil one! Without realising it he was yielding himself to the evil one's rule, and then the evil one said: 'Now you've given me a little bit, I want more. I want unconditional surrender' - but praise God, in that hour was the hour of Hezekiah's greatness, and he said: 'No!', and he took immediate action.
Now I don't know who I'm speaking to today, but can I ask you: are you flirting with the enemy? Are you trifling with sin? Are you trying to trade with sin on the one hand, and trade with the Son of God on the other? I exhort you today: 'Kiss the Son, lest he be angry with thee'. The Lord Jesus Christ does not share His glory with another, and there will come a day when the devil will claim unconditional surrender over your life - that's what he's looking for, to control you! I love that little chorus, because there's so much truth in it:
'Sin will take you further than you want to go,
Wholly, but solely, taking control.
Sin will cost you more than you want to pay'.
It's telling us that, like the camel, when the head goes into the tent it's not long before the whole body wants to get in. Now, here was the solution: Hezekiah, realising his mistake, the enemy within, the weakness that was there, he took immediate action. That's what you need to do, because there's far too much passivity - passivity - in our Christianity. Passivity means you just lie back, and think: 'Well, if God will, He will; and if He won't, He won't'. This philosophy: 'Let go, and let God' - now I know what some people mean by that - but it cannot mean that there is a sense in which we do nothing concerning our Christian lives! I often think of that illustration of when the apostle was in prison, Peter in Acts 12, and the angel of the Lord smote him on his side and raised him up, saying: 'Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals'. The angel did the miraculous thing that Peter couldn't do, he raised him, he broke him out of the prison; but he wasn't going to put his sandals on for him! Peter could do it himself!
What Hezekiah is doing here is he's working out his own salvation, he's doing what he can do and he's leaving to God what he could not do. Now let me show you in two ways, practically first of all, and secondly spiritually, how Hezekiah made an imperative preparation. Here's the first thing, practically, what he did: negatively we read that he cut off the enemy's lifeline. He cut off the water of the city, verse 4: 'So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains, and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying, Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?'. He cut off the lifeline for the enemy. Secondly, this time positively, he set up defences, he repaired the walls - verse 5: 'he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers', and he also gave weapons to the people. He positively set up the defences again. Now here's the question: if you are suffering from the oppression of the evil one, are you giving him a lifeline in your life? Or have you cut them all off?
Here's the second question: are your defences broken down, and is there a hole in the wall that the evil one can exploit? Those are good questions, aren't they? Well, practically, let's be practical Christians - if the TV is causing you a problem, turn it off. If the music you're listening to is filling your mind with impurities, don't listen to it - it's as simple as that! Isn't the Lord Jesus so practical? 'If your eye offend you, pluck it out; if your hand offend you, cut it off and throw it in the fire'. Let us be practical in this matter - but then there was a spiritual aspect, and if we need anything we need this today: Hezekiah encouraged the people, verses 6 to 8, 'Be strong and courageous'. He gathered them together in the street, he spoke comfortably to them, saying this: 'With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles - there be a greater with us than there is with him'. What was he doing? Negatively he was allaying their fears: 'You've got nothing to be afraid of, there is a greater one with us than there is with him'; and positively he's boosting their faith: 'They have an arm of flesh, but we have the power of the Lord our God to help us, and He will fight our battles'.
Now here it is, this is one of the problems in the battle for the mind today: we as Christians often listen to the wrong side of the argument. Have you got it? I'm going to take time over this, because time has gone swiftly by, but we listen to the wrong side of the argument, the wrong information; when we should be listening to the word of God. You hear it said that there's two sides to every story - well, which side of the story do you listen to? Do you listen to the encouraging words of the word of God? Or do you listen to those things that the enemy drops into your consciousness? And I believe he can and does do that more than we think! Do we seek encouragement in God's word? Do we seek encouragement meeting with God's people? You might be here saying: 'I don't have anyone to encourage me, everybody seems to discourage me' - well the Bible says that whenever there isn't even anybody to encourage you, you've got to encourage yourself - do you do that? Do you encourage yourself in the word of God every morning, every day?
Remember David, led his army, and he was greatly distressed for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of the people was grieved, every man for his own sons and his daughters - but David encouraged himself in his God. They were all ready to kill him there and then, execute him, but he encouraged himself in his God - he wasn't going to let the enemy get the better of them, even when no-one stood with him. Sometimes I counsel people and they're really discouraged and really downcast, and often - it's a very simple question - often the first question I ask is: 'Are you reading the word of God?'. Most of them aren't.
Do you need to cut Satan's lifelines into your life? Secondly, do you need to rebuild the walls and the defences: the word of God, the practice of prayer, fellowship with God's people, seeking to win the lost? Those are imperative preparations that you must make. Now here's the third thing, because even when we make those imperative preparations and set them in order, there is the predictable response from the evil one. If you have ever known this, you will concur with what I'm about to say: often when you do the right thing practically and spiritually in preparation for the evil one's attacks, one of his favourite strategies of counter-attack is to cast doubt on the goodness, the power of God, and the word of God. Isn't that so? There he's standing before you, the enemy ready to eat you up, and you suppress that evil within, you bring it into obedience to Christ - you've broken off the lifelines of sin, and you start to set up the defences of the word of God, and prayer, and holiness, and fellowship, and witnessing - there it is...and what does he do? You're reading the word of God, and he says: 'Can you believe that? Really? I mean is all this true? You're staking an awful lot upon it. Is this going to work?'. What he does, and he has done this from the very beginning, is he casts doubt on the veracity of God's word.
Now I'm going to take time to do this, because I believe that this is an important message this morning for some. Genesis 3, turn with me, he did it at the very beginning: 'Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?', there he casts doubt on God's word, 'And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die' - God told them they would die - 'For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil'. 'God is trying to deprive you of something, God is making you miss out' - 'And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes and a tree to be desired', there's those Eye-Gate and Ear-Gate, 'to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened'.
Now turn back to 2 Chronicles 32, and you will see exactly the same thing happened - now I'm going to read it in a paraphrase, because I think it explains it very well. Verse 10, follow the reading with me: 'Sennacherib says to the people', after he heard that Hezekiah had encouraged them, ''This is what King Sennacherib of Assyria says: what are you trusting in that makes you think you can survive my siege of Jerusalem?''. I wonder are you facing trouble today, and Satan is whispering in your ear: 'What makes you think you can survive me or my influences, or what I'm bringing into your life?'. Read on: 'Hezekiah has said, 'The Lord our God will rescue us from the King of Assyria' - surely Hezekiah is misleading you, sentencing you to death by famine. Hezekiah is misleading you! He doesn't have your best interests in mind' - is that not what Satan said to Eve in the garden? We read on, verse 12: 'Surely you must realise Hezekiah is the very person who destroyed all the Lord's shrines and altars; he commanded Judah and Jerusalem to worship at only one altar at the temple - he is depriving you! Do you not realise he is the one that's taken things from you?'. Then he actually causes them to doubt their faith in God, verse 14: 'Name just one time when any god, anywhere was able to rescue his people from me - what makes you think your God can do any better? Don't let Hezekiah fool you, don't let him deceive you like this - I say it again: no god of any nation has ever yet been able to rescue his people from me or my ancestors, how much less will your God rescue you from my power?'. What he's saying? 'Even faith in your God will not prevent your problems!'.
Does Satan ever say those things to you? Does he say: 'Look, I'm too powerful for you, just give up'? Does he ever cause you to think 'God must be misleading me, He mustn't have my good interests at heart. He is maybe depriving me from some joy in the world, and surely faith in my God cannot move mountains that I see before me'? In verse 18 we read that he sent letters to the people in the Hebrew language, Aramaic was the language of diplomacy, but the Hebrew language was the language of the people - in other words, he spoke to them on terms that they could understand, he wanted to communicate to them fear and doubt concerning God's word. My mind went to the recent war in Iraq, and you'll remember that those United States planes were dropping little leaflets right over the whole of the landscape. The writing was in the Iraqi language, and it was advising the army, the Republican Guard, to capitulate peacefully without a struggle - that is exactly what Sennacherib was doing here to the people of God. He spoke to them, it was psychological warfare in a language that they could understand. He appealed to their senses, and it seemed to make sense to them - and they thought, maybe: 'What's the point? I'm tired of fighting! Let's not lose our lives, let's just surrender!'.
Psychological warfare, and sometimes is it not the case that what Satan says to us in our minds, even regarding doubting the word of God, sometimes makes sense. I don't know about you, but I feel at times life is like walking down an avenue of houses, and the neighbours are all hanging out the windows crying abuse, trying to catch your attention - Jesus is at the end of the avenue, and you're trying to get to Him, you're trying to listen to His words; but these people on either side of the way are trying to distract you. They want to get you to stop before you get to the end of the road, dead in your tracks - and especially when you're tired and you're weary, you begin to listen to the voices, don't you?
Turn with me to Psalm 42, because we have exactly the same thing here, Psalm 42 verse 3: 'My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?' - 'Where's your God? This God that you're talking about, where is He? Why isn't He acting on your behalf?'. 'When I remember these things', he was listening to what the evil one was saying, he thought about them, he thought perhaps there's truth in this, 'I pour out my soul in me', he remembered how he went to church, 'I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise' - 'I once had the joy in my heart, I once was able to praise with the multitude that kept holyday'. Then I asked myself: 'Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance'.
Now listen: the people's fatal mistake would have been listening to the voice of the devil, now here's my question to you today in the 21st century: do you listen to what the devil says, or do you listen to what God says? Do you agree with the devil, or do you talk to yourself? Now I'm going to admit to talking to myself now, and I know what you'll all think! But the fact of the matter is this man David was listening to the evil one: 'Where is your God?', but in verse 5 he starts to talk to his own heart a bit of sense - the sense of the word of God: 'Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance'. He listened to the word of God and talked sense to himself! It was then that he realised that he had hope in God.
Do you know what that is? Our irresistible defence: God. Sennacherib's fatal mistake in verse 19 was to club our God Jehovah in along with all the gods of the nations that he had once defeated. In verse 20 we read that King Hezekiah cooperated with the prophet of God, Isaiah - the opposite to many of his forefathers who had opposed the prophets of God. Hezekiah got down on his knees, and with the prophet Isaiah went to prayer, and the word used here is they 'cried unto God', and they didn't believe the lie that prayer doesn't work! What does James say? 'Is any sick among you, is any afflicted, let him pray', and crying to heaven they opposed the wives of the devil that was trying to get the people to be affrighted. Like David's enemy said there is no hope or help for you in God, they got down and strengthened their weak hands and confirmed their feeble knees, and God said to them: 'You who are a fearful heart, be strong, fear not; behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense. He will come and save you!'.
We read that that day, the God who in 1 Kings 18 answers by fire - 'Jehovah, He is God; Jehovah, He is God', Elijah said - that God came into the camp and wiped out hundreds of thousands of Assyrians in an instant because He is God, and He is our irresistible defence. Now listen: Satan, our enemy, knows his final doom - and let us never forget it. He is a defeated foe. At Calvary the Lord Jesus Christ plundered his power, broke his lifelines, and set up defences for us as the children of God - and all of his threats have died in the death of Christ, and we as believers stand in victory this morning - and do not let anyone, anybody, or anything take your victory from you! Listen to me, this is my message: Satan cannot take your salvation, but he can take your joy, he can take your peace and your satisfaction, he can take your sense of victory - but if you stand in Christ's victory, he puts his tail between his legs and scurries away.
I'm finished, but a lot of what I have said is old hat to many of you, but can I ask you: do you implement it? If you went to the doctor with an oppressive ailment of some kind, and he diagnoses it, and he takes out a bit of paper and writes a prescription, tells you to take three of those everyday - and you go home and look at them and think: 'They'll not make any difference. I thought red ones would have been better, but they're blue ones. I thought five a day would have done the trick'. Then a few days later after not taking them, you ring the doctor and say: 'Look, I haven't got any better', and he says: 'Did you take the tablets?', and you say, 'No, I didn't think they would do any good, they're too big, or they're not the right colour, or they taste strange' - he has every right to say to you: 'I don't want to hear from you again until you take those tablets', and hang up.
Do we implement this truth of God in our lives? It's time, isn't it, that we took the pills for peace of mind?
Oh, our Father, we thank Thee that we can trust in Thee, and be still and now that Thou art God even in the face of a fiery foe. Lord, we know that King Hezekiah had a battle for the mind of his people, and Thou hast a battle for our minds to believe Thy word, and to trust Thy grace and sovereign power. Lord, may we allow Thee to have full sway and control of our lives and our minds, surrender all to Thee, and we pray that we will set up those defences against the enemy, and we will listen to God's word, not to the evil one. Lord, deliver someone here this morning who has up to this point been in the bondage of the suggestions of Satan, and liberate them today and let them know the display of Thy power that Hezekiah knew, for Jesus' sake we pray, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape titled "The King's Battle For The Minds Of His People" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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