July 11 – Today’s Readings – Isaiah 34-36 and Psalms 11

Isaiah 36 is the beginning of a fascinating account of an attack and siege on Jerusalem by the Assyrian king (Sennacherib) and his field commander – their target was not just the city of Jerusalem but the entire region of Judea. The other cities of Judah had already fallen and only Jerusalem was left to fend off this attack. Here is where this story gets interesting – instead of attacking physically, the commander launched a psychological (or spiritual) attack.What follows is a perfect example of how the Devil attacks us as believers. First he told the citizens of the city that there was nothing in “the natural” that would save them – “Look now, you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces a man’s hand and wounds him if he leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him.” (Vs.6) This line of thinking was true enough. Battles with the Devil cannot be won by natural means and when we try to use the world’s methods to battle a spiritual enemy, we are doomed. The general then proceeded to try to demoralize the people by launching a personal attack on King Hezekiah – even the zeal with which he worshiped God was challenged – “And if you say to me, ‘We are depending on the LORD our God!’ – isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You must worship before this altar”? (Vs.7) Hezekiah had done the right thing in God’s sight by removing the high places but the people were probably not altogether convinced of this.

So what did the Devil do next? – He began to prey on the inner doubts of the people – questioning the righteous king.He added to his “mind assault” by trying to get the people to compromise and make a deal with him. (Hint – never make a deal with the devil) – “Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses—if you can put riders on them!! … Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then every one of you will eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern, until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards.” (Vs. 15-17) It all sounds so good doesn’t it – until you’re trapped and captive – until you are a slave once again – full of condemnation and under the Devil’s influence. Check out the next, but not the final tactic; “Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this land without the LORD? The LORD himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.” What does the enemy do? He tries to confuse the mediocre Christian concerning the will and plans of God. There is nothing like deception to confuse, divide and sidetrack the Church. Tell them a lie concerning the heart and intentions of God and watch the person who doesn’t read and apply Scripture. I’ve known young men to tell young women “God told me you were going to be my wife!” – Sounds pretty good doesn’t it? – Until you realize that God never told the young woman the same thing and that the young man was not particularly marriageable at that point in his life. Thank God – up to this point the people were wise enough to not answer the devil – they didn’t engage him. This probably would be a wise approach for us too. Stay tuned for the next instalment of the story tomorrow!

Questions:

1. Tell of another Biblical account of the enemy attacking the minds of believers.
2. Tell of a time when you felt attacked in this way.