Come, behold the works of the Lord,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Psalm 46:8-11 ESV
In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. . . . And the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rab-saris, and the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem.
Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’”
As soon as King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth and went into the house of the Lord.
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Your prayer to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.
“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. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
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. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. 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. II Kings 18:13, 17a, 28-30; 19:1, 20, 32-37 ESV
King Hezekiah ruled God’s people many years after David. The Assyrian empire was very powerful at that time. It had taken the northern kingdom of Israel away into captivity, and then it came against the southern kingdom of Judah. King Sennacherib of Assyria took the fortified cities of Judah, and then came after the capital city of Jerusalem. Things looked pretty grim for Hezekiah’s kingdom. There didn’t seem to be any way to stop the mighty Assyrian empire. But although God allowed the Assyrians to have power and victory in many battles, including against Judah, in the end God put a stop to King Sennacherib and protected Jerusalem. Hezekiah didn’t have the power or resources to stop Assyria, but God stepped in and turned their armies away from his people.
Psalm 46 talks about how God is in control even in violent, frightening times. Terrible things can happen in this sin-sick world, and we can’t always understand why God allows some things to happen. But God stays in control, and he always puts a limit on the evil and violence in the world. When there are wars and fighting among nations, sooner or later God puts this evil to an end. He shows his power and glory, and to those who are fighting and killing he says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” When God says it is time for war and fighting to end, then it ends, because God rules the world. This powerful God is with us, to protect us and help us even in the worst of times.
God showed his power and glory in his son Jesus. Jesus allowed the worst of the forces of evil to take him into their power. He was put on the cross and died a terrible death, and it seemed as if sin and evil had taken control of the world when that happened. But in Jesus God won the final victory against death and all the forces of evil. Jesus didn’t stay dead, but rose again on the first Easter morning. Jesus is exalted in the world among all those who trust in him. He defeated death for us, and he is with us always to help and protect us.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for being in control and for limiting the evil in this world. Please help us trust you even in the worst of times. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.