Today’s FDR (Mo 03/10/2016) is Isaiah 36:1-37:20 and 2 Timothy 2:14-19 and can be read through this link.
This Isaiah 36:1–37:20 passage describes King Hezekiah’s actions under threat of the King of Assyria’s annihilation as a mark of Hezekiah’s reliance on God.
Chapter 36 and part of 37 account for the terrible retribution King Sennacherib of Assyria rendered on those of his vassal states that rebelled and were supported by Egypt. His field commander, in trying to bully King Hezekiah and his people, into capitulating to the Assyrian forces, lists the names of states and kings already destroyed before reaching Jerusalem. The commander does so with great emphasis on the lack of intervention from the gods of these states.
Hezekiah dons sackcloth and ashes and goes to the Temple to seek God. Meanwhile he sends his senior staff to the prophet of God, Isaiah, to seek advice about how God will have them act. Isaiah makes it clear that God will turn the Assyrians away and Hezekiah and his people should not be afraid.
The Assyrians turn their attention elsewhere to deal with another revolt and Sennacherib sends a threatening letter to Hezekiah that they will return to destroy them and the God of Jerusalem will not stop their destruction. This letter also lists many of the kings who have been annihilated by the Assyrians.
But Hezekiah is not controlled by these threats but rather more faithful and more confident to approach God directly in His Temple, this second time, and seek His support (vv 14-20). So in the face of increased threats and reminders of who appears to be the strongest and most brutal Hezekiah takes his problem to God.
What do we do when we face apparently insurmountable challenges or problems?
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The 2 Timothy 2:14-19 passage has a number of things to say to us as God’s people and God’s ambassadors. Firstly Paul presents the prime tasks; continuing to present to God’s people, the points that he, Paul, has already mentioned and that quarrelling over words is of no value except ruining those who hear. (v14)
Secondly, we can see profiles of both the good workman (vv 15-16) and the bad workman being identified (vv17-18). (Yes, that means both women and men.)
- For the good workman, the work is hard, teaching and witnessing in words, as the product of our labours are invisible and the subject is controversial as the Word of God is life to some and death to others. Yet this same workman must be God-centred and careful and accurate in their teaching. Why? So that those in our hearing, or reading, or watching, may be given a straight path to follow by our God–centred teaching and witnessing.
- For the bad workman, this work is easy as we can present false pictures of God’s words for us with the result that people are lead do death. If we do this we teach and witness to beliefs and words that are not God-centred and a disease breaks out among our people, A disease like gangrene that spreads through the body, or the church, without being halted or cured.
Here too Paul is not leaving room for today’s relativism as he shouts for Timothy (and us) that there is one true path and there is a false path; aim for the true path! Just as a archer aims for the bullseye on the target.
Finally, Paul encourages us who encounter false teaching to avoid it and stay on the one true path, revealed in Holy Scripture (v19). He ads, for our benefit, two encouragements also found in this verse; that the Lord knows us and we should turn away from our wickedness. Here though the reference to foundation is more likely a reference to the church founded in God himself. Our sure foundation.
A prayer – Lord and Father, as this week continues on its path, may I do and say all that I can to present you to my brothers and sisters and to those who do not know you, accurately and carefully to represent the saving grace of Your Son and our Lord Jesus Christ. I ask this in Christ’s name, Amen.
If you have a spare five minutes you might enjoy joining in this worship song*;
Yours in His service,
* Music video provided by youtube.com