Why Standing Stones?

Why Standing Stones?

In ancient Israel, people stood stones on their end to commemorate a powerful move of God in their lives. It was a memorial to something God spoke or revealed or did. Often these standing stones became reference points in their lives. Today, we can find reference points in the written Word of God. Any scripture or sermon can speak something powerful into our lives, or reveal something of the nature of God. In this blog I offer, what can become a reference point for Christians, taken from God's ancient word and applied to today's world.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Rabshakeh

How many realize that we live in a world that’s both spiritual and physical.  There are things that happen in an unseen world – a spiritual realm, that can be seen occasionally in the physical world.  We battle against principalities, against powers, against rulers of darkness and spiritual wickedness in high places.  We often think this is abstract; we understand intellectually that there is a devil but we don’t see him so he becomes abstract to us. 

I want you to know that the devil is real, and that he has a strategy to turn you and your family away from the God of the Bible whom he hates.  He has a method of attack that will cast doubt on God and your church. In this post, I want to expose that strategy for you.  I want to bring out what the devil’s strategy is because a devil exposed is a devil defeated.

Isaiah 36:1-3 (NKJV)
36:1 Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. 2 Then the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. And he stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool, on the highway to the Fuller's Field. 3 And Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came out to him.

Messenger of Deception

For our purposes today we’ll say that the King of Assyria is representative of the devil.  In fact, his name, Sennacherib means the “Bramble of Destruction.”  He’s a destroyer.  The devil is a destroyer.  The Rabshakeh is like a prime minister of a governor.  He has authority over a region; an area.  He’s a representative of the king.  He’s doing the work of the King of Assyria. 

In the book of Daniel chapter ten, Daniel is speaking with an angel who has been sent to him.  The angel explains that was delayed by the “Prince of Persia.”  The Prince of Persia is not a person, he’s a spiritual being; a demonic force.  He rules over an area; a principality.  Another example is when Jesus casts the demon out of the Gadarene Demoniac they ask him not to send them out of the country.  Demons have rule over areas and regions. 

So in our text here, Sennacherib has come against Judah.  The warfare has begun, but it hasn’t begun with physical weapons…It has begun with words.  Words can be spiritual weapons.

Words can deceive.
Words can discourage
Words can demoralize.

This is why nations wage wars with propaganda.  The idea is that if the enemy is defeated in their own minds they will be easier to defeat on the battlefield.  This is the King of Assyria’s strategy, so he has sent the Rabshakeh:

Isaiah 36:4-6 (NKJV)
36:4 Then the Rabshakeh said to them, "Say now to Hezekiah, 'Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: "What confidence is this in which you trust? 5 I say you speak of having plans and power for war; but they are mere words. Now in whom do you trust, that you rebel against me? 6 Look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.

The Rabshakeh begins by casting doubt.  “How can you have confidence to defeat the King of Assyria?  Who could you possible trust that could bring defeat?  You Allies?  They won’t support you; they’re looking to betray you.”  He’s casting suspicion and doubt on Judah’s ally, Pharaoh of Egypt. 

When suspicion is cast, you begin to doubt that ally.  You begin to wonder if the words might be true. 

That’s a strategy of the enemy that we face, as well.  The devil wants you to doubt your brothers and sisters in the church.  He likes it when you are suspicious of each other’s motives.  A house divided is a house defeated.  If he can turn us against each other, he can destroy the threat we pose for him.  It’s difficult to stand against an army as an individual.  We need each other.  We strengthen each other. 

Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV)
27:17 As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

We help each other to live for Jesus and avoid sin.  The devil doesn’t want you to trust others in the church. 

The other thing he does is make it seem as if what he’s doing is from God.

Isaiah 36:10 (NKJV)
36:10 Have I now come up without the Lord against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, 'Go up against this land, and destroy it.' "

This is a deception.  It is something that he’s done before.  In the earliest days of human history, he came to Eve and misrepresented God.  First, he portrayed God as a liar; “You shall not surely die!”  He told her that God had only His own best interest in mind; “God knows you’ll be like Him!”  The Rabshakeh says, “God sent us here to destroy you.” 

This is a type of warfare against the church.  The Rabshakeh isn‘t speaking on his own, the words are the words of the King of Assyria.  People don’t set out to destroy their own church.  They don’t want to see the church die, but they’ve been propagandized.  When they slander the church it’s because they’ve bought into the words of the Rabshakeh.  They’ve believed the propaganda. 

There is a demon over this area.  There is a “Prince of Taiwan.”  The King of Assyria is marching against us.  We’re under siege.  There is an attack on our church.  The devil wants to take you out individually and destroy the church.  We’re a threat to him as long as we trust in God and each other.  We’re a threat as long as we are obedient to God’s calling.  If we trust and obey God, the devil will try to lay a siege against us.  He’ll try to convince us that we’re going against God that we’re not in his will.

When Pastor Mitchell first tried to send out Harold Warner, to Kearney Arizona, Pastor Warner had an accident of the road as he returned to Prescott.  The accident left him with a broken back.  The Prescott church was divided; some people felt that it was a sign that Prescott shouldn’t be planting churches.  It was the voice of the Rabshakeh, “This isn’t God.  We’re not in the will of God.”  So this attack was one of deception.  People were propagandized to believe that the Prescott church was not in the will of God.  That’s his strategy.  It’s an attempt to cause distrust and division among us.  It’s an attempt to weaken us so that we can’t fight effectively. 

Messenger of Discouragement

Isaiah 37:1-3 (NKJV)
37:1 And so it was, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. 2 Then he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz. 3 And they said to him, "Thus says Hezekiah: 'This day is a day of trouble and rebuke and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth.

This attack has gone on for a while.  Hezekiah had seen the enemy set against him.  He’s heard the words of the Rabshakeh.  He’s seen the reactions of the people, and he’s become discouraged. 

I’ve been in this place so many times, since I’ve been in Taiwan.  I know the depth of the opposition.  The devil has caused people to abandon the church.  I’ve seen them leave and their destinies destroyed.  There have been the physical assaults – Pain and sickness that keep us from outreaching effectively.  There have been the mind battles that have been fought, that have influenced people away from laboring for the Gospel.

I’ve seen the fear that keeps people from relationships:  The fear that makes them unable to witness to family and friends:  That same fear that keeps them from trusting God for their children and their finances.  All of these attacks keep us from moving forward.  These attacks keep people from immersing themselves in God’s will, pressing in and receiving all of the blessing that God has for them.

It discourages – It demoralizes – It brings even more fear.  The battle can’t be won in discouragement. It can’t be faced in strength, when fear is in command.  I’ve learned something recently, and it has come out of a battle that I’ve personally fought with discouragement. 

I sit here in my wheelchair and I look out over a congregation that seems small.  We have about thirty-two people who are a regular part of our church, but the average attendance is between fourteen and twenty.  On any given Sunday there are eight to ten people who choose not to be in attendance.  I started to question myself, “What am I doing wrong?”  I get letters from people all over the world telling me what an inspiration I am, but my own congregation isn’t inspired.  It’s discouraging, but once again it’s the voice of the Rabshakeh.  It’s an assault from the pit of hell.  That’s the strategy; that I will be discouraged.  Discouragement makes it hard to be positive.  It makes it difficult to reach out to other people because we think it won’t work out.  It makes one cynical – “God doesn’t have the power.”  The thing is I can’t look out and see who’s missing; I have to look out and see who’s here and be thankful for them.  Don’t think it’s not important to me, whether or not they’re at church or not.  It is important; they need to be at church for their own sakes.

This is the way he works on some people.  You don’t attach any value to church attendance or spiritual things.  You don’t see how sermons can be valuable to you.  You don’t read your bible, you don’t pray, you don’t tithe.  You’re losing the battle.   You’re being kept from blessing.  It’s difficult for me to watch people allow themselves to be robbed, when I know that God has so much more for them.  But they’ve accepted the lie of the Rabshakeh.  In their minds, God has no power to meet needs.  That’s what leads to fear and discouragement; they’re letting he King of Assyria call the shots in their lives and he has no desire for them to prosper.  He’s coming to destroy.

He’s a thief, a murderer and a destroyer.  He’s come to TAKE – He wants us in hell.  Are you willing to let him have his way with your life – with your children’s lives? 

If we are divided in thought and deed – If we’re not of one accord, then we’re defeated.  The battle against the Rabshakeh was a fight for all of Judah, but it took place in individual hearts.

Beating the Rabshakeh and the King of Assyria

Isaiah 37:3-4 (NKJV)
37:3 And they said to him, "Thus says Hezekiah: 'This day is a day of trouble and rebuke and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth. 4 It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.' "

“Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant.”  How many know that prayer is an individual thing?  Each of us has to pray on our own.  It’s one thing to say amen to a prayer that’s prayed.  That’s a kind of agreement – So be it! – Let it be done!  That’s what amen means, but when you build a prayer in your own heart that’s when you become a fighter. 

Your prayer is your own onslaught against the enemy.  You’re saying, “I’m calling on God because I trust Him.  I’m calling out in strength – In power.  I’m standing against discouragement, because I know that God answers prayer.”
Pray for your church – That God will build it and strengthen it.

Pray for outreaches and new converts.

Pray for your pastor – That he will have the mind of God – That he will be able to continue the fight.

Pray for yourself that you will be able to withstand the taunts and lies and remain in your strength.

Pray for each other – Do you do that?  There’s too much at stake to just let people slip away.  We need to have relationships with each other.  There’s strength in numbers.  Make some time for fellowship.  Some of you just run off right after church.  You have no relationships in the church.  You spend all your time with non-believers and you wonder why you can’t seem to see any effect from your salvation.

I’m posting this as a warning.  The devil is real, he hates you and he hates God.  He wants you deceived, discouraged and defeatable.  Don’t play right into his hands.  Don’t let him destroy your salvation.  There’s a saying in Christian circles, “Get on your knees and fight like a man.” 

Finally, do you know what happened in this story?  Look at the end of it:

Isaiah 37:36-38 (NKJV)
37:36 Then the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses--all dead. 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh. 38 Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

God destroyed the armies of the King of Assyria.  Judah never left the city.  They never fought beyond prayer and God went out and destroyed Judah’s enemy.  God will be victorious in the battle we face, too.  There will come a day when the demons will no longer have any power.  They’ll be defeated.  Look what happens to Sennacherib, the King of Assyria.  At then end he was struck down and killed by his own sons. And guess what, the devil’s day awaits him, too.  I’ve read the end of the Bible – We win!

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