Summary: Finding security in God when threatened
“Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf”
Intro: Do you remember as kids hearing a story about three industrious little pigs? The built their own houses, and were fine until one hungry old wolf came around looking for a ham dinner! When the big, bad wolf came knocking at the door, he made a lot of threats, and did a lot that scared and intimidated those little pigs.
Sometimes we get fearful about things that we shouldn’t. I remember one night in a board meeting at another church at the beginning of the meeting as we were talking over the agenda, one man said, “I’d like to talk tonight about whether it’s okay for the pastor to take off his coat when he preaches.” We all spent the night thinking he wanted to make the pastor keep his coat on, when what he really wanted to do was to give the pastor permission to take his coat off if it got too hot.
What do you think when you walk into work after lunch and someone says, “The boss wants to see you right away”? The first thought is, “Oh, no, what now?” Or how about when the pastor calls up and says, “I’d like to come over and see you this week.” We so quickly become fearful.
How do we deal with fear? Where is our security? This week as we’ve been reading in Isaiah, we saw King Hezekiah deal with some great threats and we saw him respond with great security. Let’s look at Isaiah 36 and learn some lessons about fear.
I. Satan’s Temptation to Fear
Let’s set the stage: Under King Ahaz of Judah, the southern kingdom faced conflict with the Northern kingdom of Israel. Ahaz turned to Assyria for help. But that help had it’s price. Assyria decided it would like to conquer both the North and the South kingdoms of Israel. Following the reign of Ahaz, his son Hezekiah came to the throne. Hezekiah is a good man, a godly king. He worships the Lord. Hezekiah destroys the altars of the idol worshipers. He even destroys all the altars to worship Jehovah, the true God, except for the altar at Jerusalem where the Jews were supposed to go to worship.
Hezekiah decided he would not pay tribute to Shalmaneser, the Assyrian King. Shalmaneser doesn’t like this, so he decides to invade Judah. Hezekiah then pays him the tribute he wants, but Shalmaneser still decides to attack. The Assyrian army has destroyed the towns of Judah - 46 fortified cities have been captured, 200,000 people have been taken into captivity, and the army comes to the gates of Jerusalem. That’s enough to make anyone fearful.
Now let’s look at Isaiah 36. Read whole chapter.
Why would Hezekiah be tempted to be fearful? Let’s look at what he was facing.
1. The Northern kingdom, Israel, fell to Assyria 19 years before these events. This was a nation that had defeated Israel.
2. All the cities of Judah had fallen (vs.1). Jerusalem is the only city left that hadn’t fallen.
3. The army is right outside the city (vs.2). They could look out from the city walls and see the hundreds of thousands of soldiers right outside the city.
Emotional Discouragement - Intimidation
4. Three high ranking officials have come from the enemy king. CF. 2 Kings 18:17 - The king of Assyria sent his supreme commander, his chief officer and his field commander with a large army, from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem.
5. vs.5 - They are accused of having no strategy or strength
6. vs. 6 - They are hoping for Egypt to help, but they are told Egypt will not help, but in fact will actually harm the Jews
7. vs. 7 - They are told even God is against them.
Do you ever feel like God doesn’t even like you?
Why would the Assyrians say God was against them? Hezekiah had torn down his altars that people had wrongly built. Did you ever have a time where you did what you knew God wanted you to do, where you did the right thing, and Satan tries to make you feel bad about it?
We have friends pastoring in Florida - their associate pastor left his wife for a woman in the church - and our friends have said this is not to be allowed. Some people in the church don’t like that: they want to keep their friendship with the associate pastor and his adulterous partner. They have complained that the pastor is being unloving because he is doing what God says is to be done. Sometimes we feel bad about doing right.
8. vs. 8 - The Jews had no skilled cavalry - The Assyrians mock them - saying they will give them horses to fight with if they could come up with the men to ride them.