Sunday, May 8, 2011

Spiritual Warfare II

After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself. When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to wage war against Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military staff about blocking off the water from the springs outside the city, and they helped him. They gathered a large group of people who blocked all the springs and the stream that flowed through the land. “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of water?” they said. Then he worked hard repairing all the broken sections of the wall and building towers on it. He built another wall outside that one and reinforced the terraces of the City of David. He also made large numbers of weapons and shields. He appointed military officers over the people and assembled them before him in the square at the city gate and encouraged them with these words: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said. (2 Chronicles 32: 1-8, New International Version, ©2011)

When Satan tries to devour us, it is oftentimes in the midst of blessing and faithfulness rather than trial and tribulation. As with Hezekiah who previously had done everything to restore the temple to true worship, commanding the priests and Levites and the people of Israel according to God's Law to purify themselves with sin and guilt offerings for their rebellion. In the face of Sennacherib's invading army, we might be surprised by Hezekiah's response in our age of instant gratification. Not given over to despair or despondency, Hezekiah stands firm, remaining confident in his God, whereas we would no doubt be tempted to cry "it's not fair". In our warfare with Satan, we need Hezekiah's big view of God's sovereignty and power to rescue us when present dangers seem imminent and hopeless.

Realising that a greater power goes ahead of us into battle, one greater than the temporary landlord of this present evil age whose final defeat was assured on the cross. This power is none other than God's infinite storehouse of grace that clothes us with spiritual armour; Word and Sacrament, prayer and worship, which do not rely on our tireless efforts but on our Mary-like ability to receive humbly at our Lord's feet in complete dependence on him. All the blessings we receive in the Gospel are received passively without any merit or deserve; and with these spoils of victory we shore up our spiritual walls, looking for any breaches through which any enemy might slip and steal our joy. While we patiently wait for the day when our heavenly Jerusalem descends, and all warfare with Satan will cease. Our eternal home securely guarded by the angels of the Lord, and free from any demonic influence. Satan's accusations eternally silenced in the lake of fire from which his evil cannot hope to escape.

In the name of Christ. Amen.

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