“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria, nor because of all the army that is with him; for the One with us is greater than the one with him. With him there is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”
-2 Chronicles 32: 7-8 AMP
Being strong and courageous is only easy when you’re not face to face with you’re threat! As I study God’s Word, I’m often in awe of the courage it took for David not to run and hide as Goliath locked sights on him… or for Shadrach (Hananiah), Meshach (Mishael), and Abednego (Azariah) to not bow down as they felt the heat of the flames.
Although the enemies in question were very real threats, they were merely the “cast and shadows” of our true enemy! For understanding purposes, know that whenever I use the terms “cast and shadows”, I am referring to an earthly representation of our spiritual enemy. The Bible is full of examples but there is one that God has greatly pressed upon my heart this week… the story of King Hezekiah of Israel and King Sennacherib of Assyria… Read their story below or in your own Bible…
‘“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria, nor because of all the army that is with him; for the One with us is greater than the one with him. With him there is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
After this, Sennacherib king of Assyria, while he was at Lachish [besieging it] with all his forces, sent his servants to Jerusalem, to Hezekiah king of Judah, and to all Judah who were at Jerusalem, saying,“Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria, ‘In what do you trust that you are remaining in Jerusalem under siege? Is not Hezekiah misleading you in order to let you die by famine and thirst, while saying, “The Lord our God will rescue us from the hand of the king of Assyria?” Has the same Hezekiah not taken away his [Baal’s] high places and his altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, “You shall worship before [only] one altar and burn incense on it”? Do you not know what I and my fathers (ancestors) have done to all the peoples of the [other] lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands able to rescue their lands from my hand at all? Who [was there] among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed who was able to rescue his people from my hand, that your God should be able to rescue you from my hand? So now, do not let Hezekiah deceive or mislead you like this, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to rescue his people from my hand or the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God rescue you from my hand!’”
And his servants said even more against the Lord God and against His servant Hezekiah. The Assyrian king also wrote letters insulting and taunting the Lord God of Israel, and speaking against Him, saying, “As the gods of the nations of other lands have not rescued their people from my hand, so the God of Hezekiah will not rescue His people from my hand.” They shouted it loudly in the language of Judah to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten and terrify them, so that they might take the city [without a long siege]. They spoke of the God of Jerusalem as [they spoke of] the gods of the peoples of the earth, [which are only] the work of the hands of men.
But Hezekiah the king and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz prayed about this and cried out to heaven [for help]. And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed every brave warrior, commander, and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria. So the king returned to his own land in shame. And when he entered the house (temple) of his god, some of his own children killed him there with the sword. Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria and from the hand of all others, and He gave them rest on every side.’– 2 Chronicles 32:7-22 AMP
The enemy’s first goal is always to cast doubt on what we believe about God and His character… but sometimes initially, the enemy comes masked as a friend and comforter. The Assyrians did just that prior to their invasion (2 Kings 20:13)… but we are wise to deny the enemy access to our lives! Hezekiah made the mistake of giving his enemy a grand tour of his kingdom’s treasures. The enemy’s ultimate goal is to steal, kill, and destroy! We must protect the treasure that God has placed in us… among the most important, our freedom from sin and bondage! He desires to steal our freedom above all things because he knows that without it, we are unable to do what God has called us to do. We need freedom in Christ as much as our lungs need air to breath!
Unfortunately, the enemy quickly moves from whispering lies to shouting loud mouthed threats! Suddenly, being strong and courageous takes on a whole new meaning as the threat stands right in front of you, a taunting reminder of all your shortcomings, failings, sins, inabilities, and frailties! With the help of this “cast and shadow” example, we see the enemy’s battle plan revealed and exposed… verses 17-18 tell us that the enemy’s threats were meant to, “… frighten and terrify them, so that they might take the city without a long siege.”
The enemy may be defeated but he’s not stupid… he knows that if he can make his threats and lies convincing enough, we will surrender to him without much of a fight! And let’s be honest, sometimes we do just that… but we shouldn’t! Jesus Christ won us the war so that we could stand strong in the midst of the battle! We are not called to surrender to our enemy! No more running at the sight of a giant, an evil army, or the heat of engulfing flames because our God is bigger than anything we could ever face… He already faced and defeated those things in our place! Trust me, I know that’s easier to say than it is to do… but so were all of those amazing stories in God’s Word! We still put our trust and faith in the same God of the Bible!
Surrendering to the enemy cannot be an option for us! Take your surrender to Jesus! Because this isn’t the type of “enemy” we see in a lot of movies now-a-days where the villain is only kind of bad and still likable to a degree. We’re talking about an inherently evil enemy where our surrender doesn’t ease the struggle, it just makes it worse. There’s a scene in one of my favorite movies “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” where Aragorn tells his warriors as their enemy approaches to, “Show no mercy, for you will receive none!” That is the type of enemy we face… one where there is no good-side or likability… its an enemy without compassion, empathy, or mercy!
We are warriors in Christ Jesus but if we are going to stand up to our enemy, we must be equipped for the battle! We need the armor of God because let me tell you what, we are going to take some punches this side of Heaven; and the funny thing about armor is, that it doesn’t serve it’s purpose if we’re just carrying it in our hand… we have to put it on!
I’m always in awe of how God speaks to His children… a couple of weeks ago, I was wrestling with some strongholds of fear in my life (not fully free yet, but I’m on my way- lol)! In the process of taking this issue to God, I asked Him to please just show me that I was not the only one that wrestled with this issue… deep down, I totally know that there are others who struggle with fear but let’s be honest… we’re not all that quick to confess our fears to others, especially in the Church… we are usually too afraid of the consequences! God’s Word tells us in Proverbs 18:21 that “Death and Life are in the power of the tongue,” although you wouldn’t think we were aware of that by watching us sometimes! We’ve been entrusted with a sharp two edged sword and yet we wield it around like toddlers playing pirates! We allow the enemy to benefit from our mouths far too often… it saddens me that we end up giving him the opportunity to heap condemnation, judgment, and isolation on others… what’s even sadder is that its usually unintentional… but as good-intentioned as we might be, we really need to take care in how we respond to the struggles of others. So if fear is not your struggle, ask God to give you His eyes to see because speaking from experience, Jesus deals so tenderly with us in our weaknesses and always meets us where we are, gently leading us from strength to strength… and if He, who has every right to be harsh with us, isn’t… how can we have any right to be… so be gentle- lol!
I love when Beth Moore wrote this in one of her Bible studies: “We can be faithful to God and centered in His will and still be attacked by the enemy. Sometimes our enemy attacks the weak and wandering believers because they are easy prey. Other times he attacks competent, fully surrendered servants of God for the challenge and the possible effect of a fall. Let’s not be fooled into thinking we can somehow avoid all Satan’s attempts to take us captive. We are wise never to consider ourselves invulnerable, so that we stay alert and aware at all times. Satan cannot force us to go where he leads, but he can certainly choose a scenic route for a lure.” I think we are wise to remember this as we prayerfully respond to people in hardship… just because someone is struggling doesn’t mean it’s a result of sin… we should always let the Holy Spirit do the talking for even if it is sin, we are not above the ability to stumble in our own walks! It’s not always our words that need to change, sometimes it’s just the delivery.
Okay, sorry for the very long tangent, but sometimes the LORD just takes me somewhere and I need to be obedient and follow- lol… But I’ll get back to my story… so after I asked God to show me that I was not the only one that struggled with fear, I headed to my church Life Group (aka… Small Group). As the nightly conversation kicked off, one gentleman raised his hand to ask for prayer and confessed that he had been struggling with fear in recent weeks… in that moment, God answered my prayer of showing me I wasn’t alone… not to mention many others confessed their own fears at group! What amazed me was that God not only showed me that I didn’t suffer from anything uncommon… but He also showed me how tender and understanding He is to His children by speaking so personally to me that night as I’m sure He did many others. He never wants us to feel isolated or alone because we’re not… but how awesome to know that He understands why we often do.
What blessed me even more is that God didn’t just confirm it to me in that moment, He continued speaking to me throughout the week! I’ve been doing a Bible Study by Beth Moore called “Breaking Free” (her studies are great for anyone who’s never done one btw)… and one of the day’s homework lessons was all about fear and how we deal with it. I loved when she said, “Sometimes faith is the absence of fear. Other times faith may be choosing to believe God even when your heart is melting with fear. Perhaps, then, faith is tested by what we do with fear, not whether or not we have it.” So true!!
Fear wears many masks, but again, the goal is always the same… to steal, kill, and destroy! So whether it’s fear of financial struggle, failure, sin, failing health, or even a fear of fear (yes it’s an actual thing)… stand firm on the promises of Jesus and pick up your sword (the Word of God)! Make them your fighting words; I’ll make them mine too! If His Word was powerful enough to call forth creation from nothing, then it is powerful enough to bring victory in your situation!
One day, on the other side of glory, I believe that our Father will give us a glimpse into what was really going on in the spirit-realm during some of our most trying times! We will get to see the swords wielded and battles waged on our behalf! Our King fights for us and so do the angel armies that stand at His command! I believe it probably looks like something out of “Lord Of The Rings” or “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe”! So in the words of Isaiah and to the glory of the Father, “BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS” for your GOD IS WITH YOU!!!