September 18, Friday

Editor’s Note: The AMI QT devotionals from September 16-20 are provided by Pastor Shan Gian, who oversees the young-adults ministry at Symphony Church (Boston).

Devotional Thoughts for Today

2 Kings 19:32-37

“Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 33 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. 34 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”

35 And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 36 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. 37 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

18Hezekiah and the people of Judah were facing a terrible enemy, Sennacherib king of Assyria and his mighty army.  They had come with frightening threats against Hezekiah that left him and his people in great fear.  Hezekiah was deeply distressed by all of this, and he does the best thing that any one of us can do when we’re faced with such hardship—he prayed.  Hezekiah goes to God and cries out to Him for help; and He responds.  The LORD assures Hezekiah that He will defend Jerusalem and save it from the encroaching enemy.

This, on its own, is an important truth: God answers our prayers.  Hopefully, we’ve all experienced this for ourselves at some point in our lives.  Personally, there have been many times when I cried out to God and He answered my prayers.  And that’s exactly what happens in 2 Kings 19, where Hezekiah cries out to God for victory for His people—and God answers just as Hezekiah had asked: God decimates the Assyrian army, and Sennacherib is forced to go home in defeat.  God answered Hezekiah’s prayer and He answers our prayers as well.

Why does God answer Hezekiah?  God says in verse 34, “For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”  God comes to the aid of His people for His own sake.  It might seem a bit strange to think that the reason God would save His people is for His own sake.  Shouldn’t the real reason be that God is a benevolent Father who wants to protect his children?  Or that God is a God of love and compassion?  These reasons are true too, but God doesn’t say that here—He says that it is for His own sake and His own glory.

God came to the aid of His people because His glory was at stake.  That is to say, Israel’s defeat at the hands of the Assyrians here would have meant the diminishing of God’s glory in light of the fact that God had covenanted with David that his house and kingdom would reign forever.  Remembering that covenant, God declares here that this battle, this conflict with Assyria, was not just Hezekiah’s battle—this battle belonged to God.

Sometimes, we can start to think that God’s will or God’s love is centered around us.  Maybe we think that God should answer our prayers because we are worthy or because God has to.  God, however, is not just for us, but He is for Himself in the sense that He cares about His “reputation.” Ultimately, this benefits us because we are impressed to place our hope and trust in such a worthy God.  In the New Testament, because God has covenanted with us through Jesus Christ, when we turn to God in prayer, He answers.  In this manner our battles belong to the Lord and He will contend on our behalf for the sake of His own glory and honor.

Prayer

Father, be glorified in my life today.  Help me, Lord, to live for Your glory and honor and praise, and not for my own.  I surrender all of my battles and burdens to you, not just because you care for me, but because I know that they all belong to You.  Thank you for this covenant with You through Jesus Christ.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 28

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Lunch Break Study

Joshua 5:13-15

13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15 And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Questions to Consider

  1. This passage happens right before Joshua leads the Israelites into the battle for Jericho, and it is after he takes the place of Moses as leader of God’s people. How do you think Joshua felt at this point in Joshua 5?  What would have been occupying his mind?
  2. What was this commander’s response to Joshua’s question of being “for us or for our adversaries”? What do you think this response means?
  3. What struggles are you facing? How does it help you to know that the battle is the Lord’s?

Notes

  1. Joshua probably felt a lot of pressure at this point in time. He had incredibly big shoes to fill in succeeding Moses as leader of Israel.  Maybe he felt that all of the eyes of the people were watching him to see if he would measure up.  And at the same time, he was facing the mighty walls of Jericho.  Some scholars believe that these walls that were surrounding Jericho were five feet thick and up to seventeen feet high, and that it was surrounded by a moat that was 27 feet wide and nine feet deep.  This city was impenetrable.  And we must remember that at this point, Joshua did not yet know about God’s plan to bring the walls down, so his mind was likely occupied with the fear of this battle to come.
  2. This commander (very likely God himself) replies to Joshua’s question with the curious answer of “No.” He is saying that he not on the side of the Israelites or that of Jericho, but he comes as commander of the army of the LORD—meaning that he is on God’s side.  While God was definitely with the Israelites—His chosen people—and while God is definitely with us—His children—God is on His own side, for His own glory.  God will fight for us, watch over us, and protect us, all for our sake, but ultimately, it is for His glory.
  3. We all face struggles like Joshua did, fear of not measuring up or fear of the battles ahead; but if we remember that the battle is the Lord’s and that God will fight for us for His glory, we can rest assured that He will take care of us because we are His children and His own glory is at stake.

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Evening Reflection

Today we were reminded that the battles we have in our lives belong to God.  Were there any battles or struggles that you faced today?  How does it make you feel when you remember that you can surrender all of them to God?  We will all face trials of many kinds but as children of God, we can rest assured that our Heavenly Father is in control and He will fight for us.  Spend some moments reflecting on this truth and in thanksgiving to God for His care for you.

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