“Follow Me,” Jesus calls to each of us. How do you know where He’s leading? You don’t, and you don’t need to. How do you follow someone? You don’t look at paths and choose one to take. You look at the person. They don’t even have to take a path. They can weave in and out and go up and over. And if you knew where you were going, would there really be a point to following? You could just get there. But that’s not the way it works, because as a Christian, the getting there is training and preparation for the arrival.
Hezekiah was one of those good kings. He was a king of Judah described in the Bible as one who “did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” In fact, it’s also said of him:
He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. 2 Kings 18:5-7
Living by faith and obedience to the Word of God had blessed Hezekiah just like the law had promised. But then something happened. Hezekiah watched Israel get taken captive by Assyria. Hezekiah watched as Judah’s own fortified cities were overthrown. Only Jerusalem was left.
It says that Hezekiah had “rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.” Hezekiah had a previous victory over Assyria. But that past victory wasn’t enough when the king of Assyria returned.
He didn’t remember the previous faith victory. He didn’t trust. After all, it seems faithful and upright living wasn’t working for him anymore. His cities had been overthrown. It was already too late. Faith hadn’t worked. He digs down into his own resources and relies on himself for salvation from the Assyrians. He pays off the King of Assyria. He uses the temple gold. Assyria is pleased, and as I always point out to my children, “Bad guys are bad; you can’t trust them.” The King of Assyria returns, encouraged by how Hezekiah backed down earlier. This time, however, Hezekiah has no resources of his own left. He had no way of saving himself, or even trying to. There was nothing or no one else he could turn to. So he turns to God. And God saves him and the city. They didn’t even have to fight. God did the whole thing on His own.
It turns out that faith does work. Faith did work. There are times when the tribulation increases, when it seems like things have already gone the wrong way and that faith hadn’t stopped them or turned things around. But it’s here God gets to see your heart. Will you rely on yourself or will you trust Him? And if we aren’t ready to trust Him, then these tribulations can keep knocking us lower until we have no where else to turn but to God.
Why does God knock us down until we turn to Him? Because we are saved by faith and salvation is what He wants for you. It’s all out of His abundant love and grace that He allows us to endure trials to purify our hearts and perfect our faith. So the next time it seems like faith didn’t work, hunker down, cry out to God and don’t allow your situation to confuse the truth. God is faithful and cannot fail you. Faith saves.
The truth is. God loves me. The truth is. God loves you. While you were yet a sinner, Christ died for you. God, the Father, gave up His only Son for you. Jesus gave up heaven to come to earth, to take on a body for the rest of eternity, just so he could be with us, to be with you. Our only calling is to love Him. That may look like obedience, like sacrifice, but it’s really a display of overwhelming love for a God who loves us in overwhelming ways, doing things we couldn’t even possibly ask for or imagine, like choosing us to be His and dying for us before we were even born, before we ever said a prayer, before we ever did a kind or good deed. He chose to love you. He chose to love me.
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It says we are as sheep to be slaughtered. Sheep are led to the slaughter. If we are led by God and of His Spirit (as it talks about in this same chapter of Romans), then we are not being led to our destruction but to our victory.
We are saved by grace, not by our own effort. It does not come from ourselves. Our salvation is a gift from God. The word saved in this verse is a Greek word that embraces all of Jesus’ kingdom work: saving, healing, delivering, protecting, making whole. We aren’t required to heal ourselves, to deliver ourselves, to save ourselves. We are required to have faith and allow God to do His job in and through us.
Gideon said to Him, “O my lord,if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the LORD has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.” Then the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” Judges 6:13-14
This is just an encouragement that this is what it feels like the day before the victory, the day before God moves. Gideon is wondering where God is, what He’s been doing, why all these bad things are happening, where are the miracles? But it only takes a moment for the Lord to speak the word and change everything.
He hasn’t changed while you’ve been waiting on Him, waiting on miracles. His power hasn’t changed, His love for you hasn’t changed. But your life will change once He speaks that word. Don’t tire of waiting in His presence for the “Go,” for Him to announce the time has come.