Faith will be tested
Chapter 36 returns to the events contemporary to Isaiah's own time. Chapter 35 concluded a parenthetical section that described the judgment of humanity and Christ's righteous rule at His return. There is, however, a common principle that applies to both times. It is faith that embraces God's promise.
In Isaiah's time the godly King Hezekiah rose to the throne in Jerusalem and aggressively "cleaned house." The idolatry, social injustice, and hedonism rampant during the reign of his father were being replaced with restored honor to God and His Word. Hezekiah boldly trusted God to honor his reforms and restore His blessing upon the nation. Nonetheless, his faith was severely tested by the threat of war from Assyria, the greatest kingdom on Earth at the time. In an effort to force an unconditional surrender from Hezekiah, Assyrian envoys used every imaginable weapon to foster hopeless fear in the people of Jerusalem. They mockingly proclaimed, "What confidence is this in which you trust." They mocked Hezekiah's faith as totally unfounded and nothing more than empty words (36:3). These enemies warned that not only would Egypt fail to come to their aid, but God would also abandon them. God, they said, had actually called Assyria to destroy Jerusalem and take the Jews captive (36:6-10). Their faith in God would not work. Instead, they should accept the Assyrian promise of a better life under slavery (36:16-17).
Hezekiah was tempted to believe that God would not honor his faith and actions to reform the nation. It appeared Assyria would surely wipe them out. Yet in spite of so many things that made his confidence in God appear to be nothing more than a fantasy, Hezekiah stood firm. The end result was that God vindicated Hezekiah's faith that had been so severely tested. God would intervene in a glorious way.
In a real sense, chapter 35 presented similar challenges to confidence in God and His glorious promises of a restored Earth blossoming abundantly where once it was barren. A promise of a time coming when God's great and matchless glory will be seen by all and the weakness, sin, and sickness of humanity will be replaced by a path of personal holiness and unending joy. There are many who tell us our confidence in God and His promises is a delusion. They say we should accept defeat and a life under the slavery of sin as our only future.
Let Hezekiah be our example. He stood firm. The more he was attacked, the more he turned to God! His single-minded faith in God gave him a victory that exceeded abundantly anything he could have ever imagined.
-Calvary Church Boise
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