WARNING: VERY LONG <img src="/ubbt/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

There are a couple of things that have been on my heart to discuss, though it may take me a bit to get through them. First will be some stories and Bible promises I found helpful in getting through the nightmare, and then some of the things I have learned about prayer, specifically how to lift up your wayward loved ones to God. The Bible tells us many things we can ask for, both for ourselves and for others, and be assured God hears us.

The story of Sennacherib is found in 2 Kings 18, 2 Chronicles 31 & 32, and also in Isaiah 36 & 37. (All the following quotes are paraphrases.)

The nation of Israel had become divided, with the kingdom of Israel in the north, and the kingdom of Judah in the south. All the kings of Israel were wicked, but once in a while Judah had a good king. Hezekiah was one of those few.

At the age of only 25, Hezekiah became king of Judah, and went right to work overturning the wickedness of the people. He destroyed the altars, high places, and groves of the idol Baal, and called the people to worship again in the house of the Lord.

As an interesting side note, he was the one who destroyed the brass serpent Moses had made. After receiving the Ten Commandments, while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, their rebellion removed God's protection from them and they were attacked by venomous snakes.

To stem the outbreak, and as an object lesson, God instructed Moses to make a serpent from brass, and raise it on a pole where all the people could see it. All who looked on it would live. It was a beautiful picture of the salvation Jesus would offer. A snake in the Bible, represents Satan/evil, so we have the paradox of evil offering salvation to God's people.

Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." (John 12:32) And 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "For He has made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him." Essentially, Jesus, who was perfect and blameless, was nailed to the cross and destroyed AS SIN, all so we could have the righteousness of God, through His death and resurrection.

Well, that serpent on a stick had become just one more idol to the children of Israel, and they worshipped it as if it had magical powers within itself. They called it Nehushtan. Because something that should have been a reminder of God’s healing power and His promise of deliverance from sin, had become a stumbling block, Hezekiah destroyed it, too, for the sake of the people.

The Assyrians had taken over the land of Israel, and for years the Israelites had paid tribute. To meet the outrageous demands, Hezekiah even gave the Assyrian king all the silver from the Temple treasury and his own, and broke the gold off the Temple doors, and peeled it off the overlaid pillars.

The prophets had brought messages from the Lord that the Assyrian power was about to be broken, and at last Hezekiah rebelled and refused to pay any more tribute. The Assyrians went after the northern kingdom first, and laid siege to Samaria, the capital. After the 10 northern tribes had been subdued and taken captive, a vast army marched toward Jerusalem. Humanly, there was no hope. Even with the siege preparations that had been made, food gathered, water sources ensured (the people also blocked up the water sources outside the city so the Assyrians would not have easy access to water), the walls repaired, weapons made, Hezekiah could only last so many years. And the Assyrians had nothing better to do than wait.

He encouraged his men, telling them, “Don’t be afraid of the king of Assyria. He may have a giant army, but there are still more of us than there are of them, because we have God on our side.”

When the enemy army surrounded the city, Rab-shakeh stood close to the wall and shouted to the men who guarded Jerusalem, reading them a letter from Sennacherib, king of Assyria. It was very long, but basically he said, “Tell Hezekiah that the great king of Assyria has sent him a message. Whom does he trust, that he dares to rebel against me? Is it Egypt? Egypt is only a weak reed, and will not save you. Is it the Lord?

“You know, if you would swear loyalty to the great king, he would give you two thousand horses, IF you even have enough riders to put on them. You aren’t even strong enough to turn away the captain of one of the least of my master’s servants, much less the whole army!

“Am I here without your god? He’s the one who told me to destroy you!”

At this point, two of the men on the wall interrupted him. “We speak the Syrian language. Please say what you have to say in that language so the men on the walls do not understand.”

Rab-shakeh sneered at them. “Why shouldn’t they understand? They are the ones who are going to be consuming their own bodily wastes before this is over with.” He raised his voice even louder. “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. Do not trust in him, and do not trust in your god. If you make an agreement with us now, we will spare your lives, and you will get to keep your houses and lands, at least until we take you with us back to our country, which by the way, is just as beautiful as yours.

“Look around you. Have the gods of the other nations delivered them? Where are the gods of Hamath? What about Arpad? Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah…the list goes on. Which god has saved his people from my hand? Well guess what, your god is not going to save you from me, either.”

The people obeyed the king’s order, and kept a dignified silence. Somehow or other they got the letter to King Hezekiah. If I were writing a book about it, they would have lowered a small basket over the wall, since that seems most likely. I know they wouldn’t have opened the gates, and Rab-shakeh probably didn’t throw it, either. Well, however he got it, Hezekiah took it and did something amazing. He tore his clothing and put on sackcloth to show his great sorrow and humility, then took the letter and spread it out in the house of the Lord.

Kneeling before the altar, he prayed long and earnestly, believing that if the repentance of the children of Israel was complete, that God would step in and strike down the Assyrians for their blasphemous and boastful words. He believed the message he had received from Isaiah, that he was not to fear, for God was going to send a blast upon King Sennacherib, that he would hear a rumor and return to his own land, and he would die there.

“Oh Lord of hosts, God of Israel, You only are the God over all the kingdoms of the earth. Bend down your ear, Lord and hear, open Your eyes and see, and listen to all the words Sennacherib has used to bring scorn upon You.

“You know what they did to all the other countries, and burned their idols. You also know that this happened because they weren’t really gods – only chunks of wood and stone. Save us Lord, save us, so that everyone will know that You are the one true God.”

Isaiah sent Hezekiah another message. God was obviously not happy with the Assyrians. Basically, He told them, “You don’t know Who you’re messing with here. Don’t you know I made everything?” But my favorite part was where God tells what will be the outcome of the siege. (Exact quote, Isaiah 37:33-35) ”Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it. By the way the he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.”

(Note: Upon first reading this, I took it as a promise that God would send the OW packing before my H screwed her. Well, I can guarantee He wanted to, but as we will discuss in future segments, there is a difference between God’s will and man’s will. In this story, God would not have been able to work the might deliverance that He did, if the people had opened the gate to the enemy. If they opened the gate and later repented, He would have helped them drive the enemy out again, but the cost would be greater in lives lost and in pain suffered. It was not that I should not have prayed that promise, or applied it to my life, but I did not yet understand the nature of affairs, and it never occurred to me that AJ would be not only opening the gate, but inviting the Assyrians in for tea.)

God kept His promise. Sennacherib heard that another king was coming to attack him, and that night the angel of the Lord went through the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 of them. Being somewhat petrified, the rest of them packed up and went home in a tearing hurry, prepared to go home and fight the other king. After his return, Sennacherib was worshipping his god in the temple of Nisroch when two of his sons killed him by the sword.

One of my favorite promises through this was from Isaiah 59:19. “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” (Or her.)

Though we always have a part to play, a work to do (in this case i.e. Plan A, exposure, etc.), ultimately it is God who fights our battles for us, whether in affairs or in life. Hezekiah did not just sit back and wait for the Assyrians, saying that God would protect him no matter what. He gathered food. He ensured the water. He blocked up the water sources the enemy might be able to access. He prepared his men of war. He repaired the city wall. He built towers. He built ANOTHER wall around the first one. And then, when he had done absolutely everything in the world it was humanly possible for him to do, and knowing it would still not be enough against the Assyrian horde, THEN he trusted to God to make up the difference for what it was impossible for him to do.

By attacking our families, the OP is just as much bringing scorn upon God as Sennacherib did. And, sadly, our dear spouses help them in this. But it is appropriate for us to lift the situation to God in prayer, and ask Him to help us to withstand the blasphemous attack against us. Many days I would sit there in front of the laptop sobbing at a new graphic message (for any newer folk, AJ had Nextel, so I could view all his sent and received text messages from the internet), and would lay that letter before God just as Hezekiah did. I would plead with Him to keep His promise of deliverance, and send her back to her own land. (I wouldn’t have complained if an angel had slain her in the night, but resisted asking for that. <img src="/ubbt/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />)

I would say to God, “Do you she what she says here? This wickedness cannot go unstopped. Please put an end to it as soon as possible. I know you do not force us to do anything, and will not force AJ to make right choices even if I asked, but you also promised to fight our battles for us, and defend us, and save us. Please do whatever you need to do to get this wicked woman out of our lives forever, and to help us have the kind of family that You want us to have.”

Of course I didn’t have to show God the letters; He knew all about each one before I did. But by presenting them to Him, and asking Him to do something about it, it demonstrated my faith. And even with only a little bit of wobbly, misguided, misinterpreted faith, it was enough for Him to use, to bring His honor and glory out of tragedy.

One last note (for the moment), is that deliverance never happens on our timetable. It always takes too long! I’m sure Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego would have preferred to be delivered before they were thrown into the fiery furnace, but they were not. They were saved through it. Same thing with us. We are delivered on God’s schedule, and with His timing, and not by our impatient wishes. It seems so long when you’re going through an A, (and recovery too, I might add), and yet God waits until the right moment to act. Usually this is long after we think He should have acted. Maybe it won’t be the timing we thought we wanted, or in the way we think it should have been, but God will always send help in the time and way that will best work out the plan He has for us: the plan which, if we could see it all as He sees it, would be the very one we would choose.

Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. Isaiah 58:9a

A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.
~ English proverb

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