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October 6, 2019

The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.

- Nahum 1:7

In the Prophet Nahum's burden of Nineveh, he stated the above fact.  How do we remain within the boundaries of the Lord's stronghold in our days of trouble?  When we are in our days of trouble, we look for a stronghold that will withstand the force of that trouble. The defensive power of a stronghold must be commensurate with the force coming against it; otherwise, it is temporary and soon overrun.

When we are troubled, we look for more than that. We look for a stronghold that can sufficiently withstand the pressure coming against us, to the point that we can rest within that stronghold and not fear.  God is that very stronghold, but how much faith do we have in His ability to defend us? This verse is about our ability to trust in those times! King Hezekiah, in his days of trouble, is one excellent example of how not to panic and go elsewhere when the Lord says to stay in and trust.

Completely surrounded; not just by an enemy, but a powerful, belligerent, arrogant, and fiercely offensive enemy who hated anything to do with Israel. The plan was to steal Israel’s land, cities and farms, and make Israel slaves, subservient to Assyria. They had taken many cities to date, and had now come against its capital, Jerusalem.  Hezekiah's initial stronghold was the walls of Jerusalem. However, he knew they would not last forever; neither would they remove the fear of those inside the walls. In our humanity, we look for 'walls of Jerusalem' to protect us; things that look robust from the outside to give us that feeling of security. When we find them, we sigh in relief, but often not knowing how long they will last.  2 Kings 19 states about Hezekiah's move to secure the stronghold of God, "that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord.” At the same time, he despatched messengers to seek out God's representative, the Prophet Isaiah. This a good lesson for us, as there are things we should do and should not do. He did things both natural and spiritual.

After ensuring the walls and gates were secure, and the behaviours of his people appropriate, he sought the Lord in humility. He did not bleat victory messages like, “God is on our side and we will win,” as did false prophets. He acknowledged that God had the final say. 

When he went into the house of the Lord, he was in a heightened state of concern. At that stage, it is a normal reaction, as the decision of whether Jerusalem remains or falls is in the hands of the Lord and not the enemy outside the walls. Hezekiah, like we amidst our troubles, implores the Lord for favour.  The Prophet Isaiah also sought an answer. Once that answer was given — that the Lord will save the day — trust was required. It needed to be activated and not diminished as the opposing warriors powered up for their offensive. 

History recognised that the battle was won by the Lord in a most miraculous way. Hezekiah and his people lifted up God in their hearts to His rightful place on the throne. When we are in similar situations, our role is to life Jesus up higher in our midst, and trust, whatever the outcome; as sometimes God does not give us the victory we seek, but has other intentions.

Today’s Prayer:  Dear Lord, thank you for being my greatest stronghold in times of trouble; and thank you for the stories of how you have been the same for so many people. Thank you for all the wonderful testimonies old and new of those who put their trust in you. Thank you for bringing them through their trials. Help me to always see you as my greatest stronghold, and not run to something less in times of great distress. Help me to use ‘walls of Jerusalem’ and anything else you bring me to assist, but to acknowledge that you alone have the real defensive power I need. 

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