Summary: What is the good word for today? God is in control!
Three years ago this past summer, one of the college students at my former congregation found out that he had a brain tumor.
I’ll never forget that evening waiting with members of his family and girlfriend as he had an MRI done and then was told it revealed a brain tumor.
But, what is special about this story is the support I saw from his friends as he readied for surgery. The morning of his surgery, I had to step over people in his room because his friends, who had camped out all night with him and would stay almost around the clock, were lying on the floor around his hospital bed.
The surgery that August Friday morning came and went. It went well, but they could not get the entire tumor.
Early the next week, they asked him what he wanted to do. “Get all of it,” was his reply. And so, the following Friday, a week after the first surgery, he was opened up again. And they got the rest of the tumor.
Today, he is a junior in college and there has been no sign of another tumor.
Those days and weeks were moments of sheer anxiety for this young man and his family, but, God was very present, and through the miracle of modern medical procedures, he was made well.
One of the songs that I shared with those who crowded in his room was “God Is In Control” recorded by Twila Paris. It spoke to me and many others, I believe, about the reality of who is really in control when life, as we have tragically seen this week, is out of our control.
I have had many different thoughts and directions of thinking this week in regarding to what I would say this morning under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
After the attacks of this past Tuesday, I was ready to both dismiss the next passage in our study of Romans, which will conclude next week, by the way, and address this week’s events and its surrounding attitudes and emotions. But, then I thought about what the next text is and remembered that there is an important connection with it and the events of this past week.
However, I also realized that as you would enter this morning for worship, there most likely would be an attitude of “Pastor, is there a good word for today?” And my answer to that important question is, “Yes, there is a good word for today!”
And in the processing of all of this a passage out of Isaiah came to mind, a passage that speaks to the reality of this past week’s events. It speaks to the reality that God is in control!
The passage is Isaiah 36:13 – 20. Now, before I read it, I want to place it in context. Israel is shattered. It has split into two kingdoms – the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Hezekiah was king of Judah. This was some time after David and the dominant nation of that time was Assyria, which included the area of the nation that we now call Syria, northeast of modern day Israel.
The Assyrian king, King Sennacherib, had pretty much taken control of the surrounding area and Judah was next on his list. So, he sent some representatives to King Hezekiah to ask basically for surrender.
Well, as kings usually do, Hezekiah sent out his representatives to talk with the Assyrian representatives. Diplomacy has been around a while.
Well the two sides engage in talks, like nations do today. The Assyrian representative begins to harass the Israelites by bragging about the strength of his king and the power of his nation and that who do you think you are, Judah, to withstand this great and powerful nation?
Well, the Assyrian speaks all of this loudly in front of other Israelites who are standing around and listening along with Hezekiah’s representatives. They ask him, as we read in verse 11, “Please speak in Aramaic, for we understand it well. Don’t speak in Hebrew (the native tongue of Israel), for the people on the wall, (the others) will hear it.”
That somewhat enrages the Assyrian delegate who then, as we pick up the text at verse 13, speaks to the people on the wall.
Read the text
The guy had an ego didn’t he? We can hear the mockery, the condescending tone, in his voice, can’t we? “Your god (small g, by the way) save you? Nonsense! No other god has been able to deliver its people, what makes you think that yours can?”
Well as we read on, this really discourages Hezekiah and his leaders. They rip their clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, a Middle Eastern sign of mourning and sadness. But, Hezekiah seeks God and the prophet Isaiah says to him “God will deliver you and this nation from this threat.” And God did, as we read in chapter 37: 36-38.