TEXT: 2 Chronicles 32:1-23
Whether it was Moses leading people out of slavery, or David facing Goliath, Peter preaching to the crowds on Pentecost, all these people lived in times of uncertainty.
And we live in uncertain times too, don’t we? Which means that the Bible is more relevant today, in these times, than any other time in our lives. We should be looking here for answers to the questions we have in our hearts. And one of our biggest questions these days is this – WHAT MUST IS DO IN UNCERTAIN TIMES?
(Do me a favor and somewhere on your sheet, write down the thing or things that you are most worried about, most uncertain about, these days.)
That thing you wrote down, is one of the uncertainties of life. Now I want you to remember. LIFE IS UNCERTAIN BUT GOD IS NOT! We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow. No matter what happens, God has the whole world in his hands. And as Christians, this truth that God is in control should dictate how we respond to crisis.
It’s amazing to me how instinctive this can be at times.
A lot of you heard about the plane that had to emergency land in the Hudson River a few years ago…the Pilot, captain Sullenberger or “Sully” as they called him, did an amazing job bringing them down on the river without loss of life. flight attendants, “so what was everyone doing as the plane went down?” Does anyone know what she said? “Everyone was praying”
Now how do you think that happened? Do you think the captain had to get on and say “This is the captain speaking…in preparation for a crash landing into the Hudson River, we’d encourage all of you to break into groups of two or three and pray that God will intervene in this catastrophe. Have a good day and thank you for flying USAir” You kidding me? No one told them they should pray. They just did it. In times of uncertainty we do some things instinctively. Because in our hearts we know what? God has the whole world in his hands.
But what we should do is not always that clear, Is it? I mean we hope we do the right things…but how do we know? What should we be doing? How should we live in uncertainty?
Today I want to look at the story of a guy who had to find peace in the midst of the uncertainty. And we are going to see some very practical things that he does to not just survive uncertainty, but thrive in the midst of it. His name is Hezekiah.
In 722 Assyria wipes out the Northern Kingdom of Israel and we never see them again. In 715 BC Hezekiah became king of Judah (the southern kingdom) when he was 25 years old. He grew up in a non-religious family but married the daughter of a prophet named Zechariah, (So he married a preachers kid) and his best friend was a guy named Isaiah, so that kind of gave him more spiritual foundation in his life. He becomes king and the country of Judah had been led away from God in every way. They were worshipping false Gods on the hills, they turned the temple into a storage unit for the kings and their relatives. They had stopped worshipping God, obey God or even acknowledging God. As a result, the whole country was falling apart. Hezekiah becomes king and, for 11 years, cleans house. From 2 Chronicles 29-31 we see story after story of all that Hezekiah did to bring God back to the center of the life of the Jews. The writer says that the transformation of the culture was like nothing ever seen before since David was king 300 years earlier. Then we get to chapter 32.
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. 2 Chron. 32:1
Does anyone have a problem with this? For 11 years, Hezekiah has done everything right, but trouble still comes. Now most people would say something like this “God, I don’t understand…I was doing everything right, why did you let this happen?” You ever done that? God I thought if I followed you I wouldn’t have any more problems! But here’s what Hezekiah knows: Life is uncertain, but God is not.
So rather than shaking his fist at God and blaming him or pouting that God is not playing fair or just being depressed because life was hard, Hezekiah just says “that’s life” and takes steps to ensure that he does all that he is supposed to do. In times of uncertainty, we still have certain RESPONSIBILITIES.
This is important. Let me explain.
Suppose you knew a farmer and you went to his farm one day and you saw him sitting on his tractor, pouting. And you asked, “What’s wrong?” And he said, “Well I’m having an ill-feeling with God because the harvest isn’t what I thought it would be.” And you look out at the fields and sure enough there is nothing growing out there, so you start to ask questions. “What’s wrong?” “Did it not rain enough?” He would answer, “No it rained plenty.” You will ask again, “Is the soil not fertile?” And he will say, “No it’s great. That’s why I am so mad. I’ve got good soil, I’ve had good rains. It should have been a good harvest.” And you will the final question, “Well what kind of seed did you plant?” And he will answer you back with a this, “Well I didn’t plant any.”
What are you thinking? What an idiot! If you don’t sow the seed, how can you expect a harvest?
When Uncertainty Comes…There are some things that we are responsible to do, certain measures, human factors, so to speak, before God will do what only God can do. This is not to help out God or what; these are certain preparations/parts we must take before seeing how God would intervene in our circumstances.
In this passage we see Hezekiah do three things that I believe is a pattern for us in times of uncertainty:
Our first step is this:
1. PUT YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER.
“When Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to make war on Jerusalem, he consulted with his officials and military staff about blocking off the water from the springs outside the city, and they helped him. A large force of men assembled, and they 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 supporting terraces of the City of David. He also made large numbers of weapons and shields” (32:2-5)
Hezekiah took a personal inventory and got his house in order. Three things he did to get his house in order: Blocked off the bad, Mended the broken, Bolstered the weak…Whatever you wrote down earlier as the uncertainty in your life, I want you to take these thoughts and apply it to that issue in your life.
Three things Hezekiah did:
A. He blocked off the bad.
He saw the springs outside the walls of Jerusalem and thought to himself, “I don’t the enemy to have access to anything that would cause their presence to be here any longer than they should.” Nothing that would cause them to linger, nothing that would strengthen their resolve, nothing that would give the enemy a foothold in our land.
There are some things, bad things, in our lives that must be blocked off – it may be bad habits, attitudes and patterns of thinking we have.
- In this time of financial uncertainty, some of us are chasing after a lifestyle that is unsustainable at our income instead of trying to live within our means. And we have to be willing to say that certain things that feel like necessities are not.
- Relational – your friends are pushing you in a direction you know is not what God wants, teaching you to be materialistic…being with them makes you develop negative attitudes…etc. You must block out their influence in your life.
- Attitude – you need to block off your negative attitude such as easily angered, “nay-saying,” being pessimistic, ungratefulness, etc.
- Spiritual – your busyness leaves no time for God. You’ve got to make the choice to block out some time for God. Stop doing the things that snatches away your time and devotion to God.
B. he mended the broken
It says he worked hard repairing all the broken sections of the wall.
Mending the broken is the hardest part. The fact is these things were once healthy, but are no longer healthy.
- It could be things like mending broken communication in your marriage/relationship, or trust in a relationship.
- May be it a health or financial decision.
- May be it’s mending a broken heart because of the things that had happened to you.
- It could be your broken relationship with God…you are no longer “on fire” for Him…putting Him only 2nd in the order of things in your life.
I don’t know, but I do know this…the passage says they “worked hard” This is hard work but it is necessary! Do you know what is broken?
C. He bolstered the weak.
It says He built another wall outside that one and reinforced the supporting terraces. We know from history that he didn’t wait until the last minute to do this, but had been reinforcing it for years.
There are some things in your life that are doing okay right now, but you see if we are not careful and would not prepare, they might break as well. So make sure, that you’re making some preparations and decisions, as early as possible, that will reinforce/strengthen important areas in your life.
Do you know your weak spots?
- It could be that your finances are okay, but over a long period of time you are vulnerable. What are you doing to reinforce it? (stop being impulsive… “Ubos biyaya, bukas tunganga…” Save as much as possible… practice delayed gratification…)
- It could be your marriage/relationship feels okay today, but over a long siege there could be trouble. What are you doing to reinforce it? (maintain communication…communicate well…treat each other special, not just an ordinary or usual person…talk about the future things, plans, dreams, etc.)
- It could be that you are enjoying church… What are you doing to reinforce it? (get involved in fellowships to add strength to your walk. Involve yourself in the ministries we’re having in church, open your house for cellgroups, etc.)
I don’t know…but you don’t assume that just because things are adequate now that they would be okay in the midst of uncertainties or storms in life.
Stephen covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly effective people says that the #1 habit is these people are proactive…they don’t wait until the storm hits, they anticipate trouble beforehand.
And Hezekiah challenges us to do the same thing. Put your house in order, or much better, “PUT YOUR LIFE IN ORDER.” I would encourage you to take some time and figure out “have I blocked off the bad, mended the broken and bolstered the weak in my life?”
2. GET YOUR HEART IN ORDER.
Have you ever heard of the news about Swine flu? Bird Flu? Anthrax? People were so scared…a little rash would make them go to the hospital because the Media has exaggerated information about it…on the other hand, people who are having real emergencies, could not have medical attentions because the hospitals were filled with people who are fearing that they might be having these kinds of flus.
Fear keeps us captive. All Media has a shadow mission. Inform. Media’s shadow mission is to sell. It’s to keep us interested. Fear sells.
Sennacherib tried to scare Hezekiah and his people. He sent a letter to the people inside the walls of Jerusalem telling them how feeble and weak they were compared to him. He reminded them that nobody else’s God had been able to stand up to him. The Bible says He had his soldiers yelling over the wall in Hebrew to scare the people on the wall. His plan, divide and conquer. Use psychological warfare! Fear sells…people began to fear Sennacherib.
But look at what Hezekiah did: He appointed military officers over the people and assembled them before him in the square at the city gate and encouraged (circle that) 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 Chron. 32:6-8).
Sennacherib is going to do everything in his power to discourage the people. But Hezekiah gives them courage. In times of uncertainty:
- Wise people limit the voices of influence. They decide who they will and will not listen to.
- Wise people stick to what they do know, not speculate into what they don’t know.
He challenged us not to be afraid. He said “three things we should do”: don’t be like a deer in the headlights — take action, to ignore loser talk and to learn to give again.
There is no better time to live our faith than when others are afraid. As Christians we need to act differently than the world when we are facing crisis. WE ARE PEOPLE OF FAITH NOT OF FEAR.
Uncertainty rules in the affairs of this world. The one thing that is certain is that everything will change. You can’t count on this world or anything of this world. There is no sure foundation in the world.
But, as Christians, we do have some things that we can be very certain of. We have a foundation that cannot be shaken. We have promises that cannot fail. AND WE HAVE A GOD THAT NEVER CHANGES!
We have a sure promise, many promises in God’s Word that cannot fail and will come to pass.
- 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”
- Matthew 5:18, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”
- We have the certainty of God’s Love that will never leave us, nor forsake us. Paul tells us in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- 1 Corinthians 13:8 says that, “Charity [Love] never faileth…” I’m so glad that we have that promise of unfailing and eternal love from our God.
God’s promises are true and it will never fail. That’s a certainty that we can use as a foundation for living for the Lord and in facing uncertainties in life!
Though the world is filled with uncertainty, and there’s nothing here that we can truly put our trust in, God has given us a great hope!
When others are saying that in this uncertain times, “It’s hard to find a job…” “More problems will come…” “Nothing good will happen…” Be strong and courageous…those are just opinions of men, but not of God…what matters is what God is telling us…and
- He is telling to you today that “We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength…”
- He’s telling you that “He is the Great Provider…The Great Healer…The Omnipotent God!”
- He’s telling you that “We are heads and not tails…”
- He’s telling you that “We are more than conquerors, through Jesus Christ…”
- He’s telling us that “He is the Good Shepherd and you shall not lack anything…”
- He is saying to you and me, “that with Him nothing is impossible!”
Never speak negative words to yourself, to your situation, to your challenge, instead of fearing…put your faith in the ONE who is the Master of all impossibilities…the One who is called King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to the One who is the Conqueror, the giver of Peace and Joy…the Living and Almighty God! Brothers and sisters have no fear for we are serving a Sovereign God! (Tell to the person next to you… “Be strong and courageous, God is with us!”)
3. PRAY UNTIL PEACE COMES.
King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about their problem. 2 Chron. 32:20 God the whole world is in your hands. He did what he could do then he chose to trust God to do what only God could do. Let me tell you one thing that only God can do – GIVE PEACE.
You say, “Well I’ve been praying and I still don’t have peace.” Let me tell you why…YOU ARE PRAYING WRONG! You can’t pray wrong, can you? Jesus told people they prayed wrong so I guess you and I can. HOW WE PRAY IN CRISIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6,7). That’s a promise…so if it is not happening, then we are praying wrong.
- “Present” — reveal not just your request but what is driving it.
There is a wrestling that needs to go on in prayer when you are in uncertainty. A wrestling that goes beyond the request to the motives behind the request. Not just what you want, but why you want it. In times of crisis we can find ourselves trusting in the answer, in the new job, in the increased finances, in the mended relationship, in the opportunity, rather than trusting in God.
- “Guard” — stand watch/ watch over
What does this verse say God guards over? Our heart and minds. And yet we find ourselves wanting God to guard our requests, not our hearts. We are anxiety ridden people because we have God standing over our request and not over our hearts. You and I have had to wrestle in those requests until we got to the place where we would say, “This is what I want, but not my will, yours will be done.” Have you gotten to that point in your prayers?
So I must choose to pray, not until the answer comes, not until the circumstances change, not until things go my way; but I pray until my faith is in God and not my request and until my trust changes. THAT’S WHEN PEACE COMES. And you find that you are not okay because the world changed, YOU ARE OKAY BECAUSE YOU CHANGED! And you see God for who He is and not for what you want. Peace comes not from the absence of problems, but in the presence of God. Remember, He’s got the whole world in his hands.
So, that thing you wrote down. Are you trusting in it? Do you believe you will be okay if it is never resolved? Where is your trust? You do what only you can do and God will do what only he can do. And even if it doesn’t turn out the way you want it…you can still have peace…why? Because you know that God knows what’s best for you and me…and you know that He will surely surprise us with an answer greater than our expectations.
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TOMORROW HOLDS, BUT YOU KNOW WHO HOLDS YOUR TOMORROW.
- Scott Ridout
- Pat Damiani
- Bob Groves
- Paul Fritz