Do You Take Your Burdens to the Lord? – Isaiah 37:10-12, 14-20, 33-37
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 2, 2014 AM
What do you do when you are faced with difficult situations? Do you run and hide, do you get angry, or do you depend upon the Lord and His guidance? You can tell a lot about an individual’s faith not just during the mundane ordinary times, but how they conduct themselves during bleak situations. She was young and not prepared to be a single mom but her life choices had brought her to this point. With a baby on the way, no support from the baby’s father, she had some tough decisions to make. She first began to work on her relationship with God, worked herself through college, got a better job after graduating, and raised her child. At a church gathering, she met a godly man who loves her and her child. Whom do you take your burdens to when faced with tough decisions?
Sennacherib had left Lachish and was at Libnah, about five miles north of Lachish. Word had come that Tirhakah was coming to assist Judah in her fight against Assyria. Tirhakah was called the Cushite king of Egypt. He was from Cush, south of Egypt, and ruled Egypt at that time. In 701 Tirhakah was an army commander; he actually did not become king of Cush until 690; but since he was king when Isaiah wrote this account, Isaiah called him the king. Hezekiah had a tough decision to make. He could depend on Egypt or God. Whom he took his burdens to would show his true character, let’s discover what happens…
Let me ask you, do you take your burdens to the Lord when…
I. Facing Bleak Circumstances (Isaiah 37:10-12)
1. Sennacherib became king after his father Sargon II died in battle in 704 B.C. Typically, when a strong king died, nations subservient to him rebelled hoping to gain their independence. Early in his reign, Sennacherib dealt with rebellions in the eastern part of his empire; finally defeating the Babylonians in 703 B.C., he then turned his attention to the west. Hezekiah, king of Judah, lead a rebellion of small nations. He hoped Sennacherib would prove weaker than Sargon and he trusted Egypt to provide military assistance. Sennacherib met the Egyptian force about 20 miles west of Jerusalem, and soundly defeated them. He then moved against Lachish, a crucial, fortified city of Judah. Hezekiah surrendered to Sennacherib and paid a heavy tribute. Sennacherib first sent a high-ranking Assyrian official, to convince Hezekiah to surrender. Egypt could not aid Judah and Hezekiah’s leadership could not be trusted. Hezekiah consulted Isaiah, who encouraged him to rely on God. Sennacherib sent another message to Hezekiah that emphasized God did not possess the power to save His people, “Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, “Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.” Surely, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my forefathers deliver them–the gods of Gozan, Haran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar?’” He claimed the people were being deceived by God. Saying God did not deserve His people’s trust constituted horrible blasphemy. Sennacherib appealed to cold hard facts. Since becoming king, he had moved decisively to quell all rebellions. No nation had stood before him. He had conquered greater, stronger nations than Judah; so Judah had no basis to believe it would be an exception. Nations conquered by the Assyrians had served and depended on their gods. In every case, these “gods” could not defend their nations, which fell to the Assyrian power. Sennacherib listed nations Assyria had conquered; some are unknown to us. Sennacherib stated these nations’ gods could not protect them and Judah’s God would not either. The situation seemed bleak. Isaiah and Hezekiah knew God had acted in history before to deliver His people and believed He would act again. Through Isaiah, God would encourage Hezekiah and His people to trust Him even in bleak circumstances.
EXAMPLE: It seemed hopeless; he was recently married and now was facing cancer. How could someone so young be caught by such a dreaded disease? Looking back now, he realizes just how he came to totally depend on his faith. In fact, it has renewed his current situation in understanding that God is there always. How has God helped you in difficult circumstances you have faced? We all face bleak circumstances in life. Loved ones or we contract deadly diseases or suffer tragic accidents. We face seemingly hopeless financial reversals. Such experiences try our faith as we wonder how or if God can help. During such times, we need to remember our God can help us face and survive bleak circumstances.
Let me ask you, do you ease your burdens by…
II. Praying to Almighty God (Isaiah 37:14-20)
1. After reading the message, Hezekiah immediately took it to the temple and unrolled the scroll before God. Hezekiah knew God comprised Judah’s only hope. First, Hezekiah referred to God as “O Lord Almighty”. This phrase is associated with the Ark of the Covenant and with God as ruler of a great heavenly court. Assyria possessed a huge army, but Hezekiah knew God wielded far greater power. Second, Hezekiah called God “the God of Israel” linking God to His chosen people. Hezekiah was confident God knew and loved His people. Third, Hezekiah spoke of God as “enthroned between the cherubim”, a description also associated with the Ark of the Covenant and with God’s status as ruler over all nations. Fourth, Hezekiah emphasized God’s uniqueness by declaring, “You alone are God.” Fifth, Hezekiah described God as “over all the kingdoms of the earth.” Sennacherib might believe in his ability and that his mighty army rendered him invincible, but he ruled at God’s pleasure. Hezekiah knew God maintained complete authority over all governments. God had allowed Sennacherib to rise to power and could easily destroy him. Finally, Hezekiah praised God as the one who “made the heavens and the earth.” God works in His world to sustain it and to direct events to His ultimate purpose, not our desires. Sennacherib likened God to the false gods of other nations he had conquered. He criticized Hezekiah for trusting in God for deliverance, believing Hezekiah was making a great mistake. Hezekiah knew that not trusting in God would be the greater mistake. Hezekiah asked God “Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.” Sennacherib had mocked the true God, and Hezekiah asked God to punish Sennacherib’s blasphemy. Hezekiah acknowledged the truth of much of Sennacherib’s message, “It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands.” However Hezekiah wanted God to show the whole world His true power and might, “Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.” Knowing God means we experience God as Lord and we live on the basis of His lordship. Hezekiah based his prayer on God’s character. Hezekiah knew neither he nor his people could claim to be righteous. They had sinned. His main concern focused on God receiving glory. All too often, we pray asking God to accomplish what we desire. Instead, we need to pray to God to act to bring glory to Him even if our desires are unmet.
EXAMPLE: Often times we speak at God instead of speaking to God when we pray. Intimacy with the Lord is not obtained in a onetime experiment when we need His guidance and strength for our momentary blip. Hezekiah got down right honest with God because he realized he had nothing to lose. The scourge of the known world was at the gates of his city! He had tried using his own resources and failed and he had tried gaining a worldly answer by relying on Egypt, which failed miserably as well. He knew only his honesty could save his kingdom and himself. All too often, we pray asking God to accomplish what we desire. Instead, we need to pray to God Almighty to act to bring glory to Him even if our desires are unmet.
Let me ask you, when you take your burdens to the Lord do you…
III. Experience Divine Reassurance (Isaiah 37:33-37)
1. God spoke to Hezekiah through Isaiah, stating He knew of Sennacherib’s blasphemy and would preserve Judah by sending the Assyrian home (Vv. 37:21-29). “Because you rage against me and because your insolence has reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will make you return by the way you came.” God also promised a remnant would survive and flourish in Judah. God then encouraged Hezekiah, stating, “He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it.” An enemy’s army would surround a city to ensure no food or supplies entered and no people escaped. Then they would construct an assault ramp, where they would employ battering rams. God declared Sennacherib and his army would not engage in any siege tactics. Not a shot would be fired. Jerusalem would survive unscathed! Jerusalem and Judah would survive because Sennacherib would return to Assyria “by the way that he came he will return”. He would return home in shame, beaten by the God he had blasphemed. God would save His city and people not due to their great righteousness and trust but because of His character, “I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!” Sennacherib had blasphemed God, accusing Him of being just another powerless deity whom he easily would defeat. God would prove him wrong by destroying the Assyrian army so they would know the power of God. God also would save His people to maintain His promise to David. God’s sparing of Jerusalem and Judah emphasized His faithfulness and grace. God accomplished Judah’s salvation in a miraculous manner, “Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning–there were all the dead bodies!” God’s angel killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers! When morning dawned, the survivors broke camp and left! After returning to Assyria, Sennacherib never invaded Israel again. His sons assassinated him in 681 B.C. as he worshiped in a temple (Vv. 37:38). Sennacherib had defeated nations and destroyed gods, but in the end, the true God whom he had blasphemed defeated and destroyed him. God answered Hezekiah’s prayer in a powerful, miraculous way. We can experience God’s reassurance just as Hezekiah did by trusting in Him alone.
EXAMPLE: Sometimes God acts to spare His people, but at other times, people do not experience miraculous intervention and sometimes even die for their faith. Yet in every crisis situation God provides His strengthening and comforting presence and His guidance so we may face what comes with courage and trust. We never plan to go through some of the tragedies of life we encounter. However, we can experience God’s reassurance just as Hezekiah did by trusting in Him alone.
Let me ask you, do you take your burdens to the Lord when facing bleak circumstances; do you ease your burdens by praying to Almighty God; and when you take your burdens to the Lord do you experience divine reassurance? You can just as Hezekiah did…
This article is copyrighted © 2014 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.