This post is an excerpt from The Lordship of Jesus Christ by Bill Pape.
The Devil defies God to deliver His people. He attacks God
through the Christian, which is the only way he can attack God. Deliverance is
by referring the whole matter confidently to the Lord. [When the Assyrian army
surrounded Jerusalem and demanded surrender, saying that God could not deliver
the city] Hezekiah, in effect, prayed, “Hear what the enemy is saying about
You, O Lord.”
The king frankly admitted that the enemy had had
considerable success, but he saw equally clearly that the glittering victories
over nations and their pantheon were not due to the greatness of the kings of
Assyria, but to the littleness of the gods of the conquered peoples. “They were
no gods, but the work of men’s hands” (Isa. 37:19). The prayer that began with
a declaration of the greatness of God and continued with an exposure of the
real nature of temptation now admits that human effort cannot devise a method
of countering such an enemy. The world is strewn with the wreckage of schemes
that were intended to make men what they ought to be by delivering them from
evil influences. Satan has indeed “laid waste all the countries” in spite of
profound philosophies, moral codes, new methods of education, and every
conceivable variety of religious system. The reason for defeat is evident: the
gods were human inventions. There are no gimmicks to give victory over evil. No
magic formula, and not even a verse of Scripture used as a kind of lucky charm,
will preserve us from the pollution of sin. Deliverance is from God, the living
Hezekiah knew that, and realized with crystal clarity the
basic reason why God delivers those who call on Him. “Save us from his hand,
that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art Jehovah, even thou
only” (Isa. 37:20). The final answer to the defiance of the Devil is the
deliverance of the Lord who deals with the temptation for His own sake. God is
concerned that His people should be victorious over a mocking enemy, because
His own honor is involved, and every temptation is an opportunity for Him to
show that He can do what no other can.
The counterattack against the Assyrians was in two parts.
First was the answer of Israel (Isa. 37:22) given to her by the Lord; second
was the answer of the Lord (Isa. 37:23-38). Israel’s answer was the laughter of
confident faith. “The virgin daughter of Zion hath despised thee and laughed
thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.” What a
dramatic picture this is. Sennacherib, conqueror of nations, head of a mighty
empire, and commander of the most powerful army of the day, laughed at by a
girl. It is as if a dainty maiden, leaning over the ramparts of the city to
take a look at the massed military might of the greatest nation on earth,
should shake her head with uncontrollable mirth at the sight of the powerless hordes.
She laughs in scorn at the incredibly silly idea that armed forces should
attack the Holy One of Israel, and she despises any who think that God can be
See it that way, and you also will laugh the laugh of faith.
Much of our uncertainty about the outcome of a particular temptation originates
in matching our strength against the Devil’s and predicting the result
according to whether we are optimistic or pessimistic about ourselves at the
time. The way to victory is to be wholly pessimistic about ourselves and
completely optimistic about the Lord. Defeat is born of doubt about God, or
confidence in ourselves; victory begins with a conviction that the Lord is
capable of dealing with the enemy. That is to say, we take our stand on the
basic truth that the Devil is not too strong for the Lord, and that we are not
too weak for Him.
This post coordinates with tomorrow’s reading in the To
the Word! Bible Reading Challenge. If you are not in a daily reading plan,
please join us at TotheWord.com. We would love to have you reading with us.