Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

Tragedy in Zimbabwe.

You can read about Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, and his violent recapture of the presidency of his country on msnbc’s website here.

To sum things up, he lost an election on March 29 and was set to give up the position that he had held for 28 years.  When he announced his defeat to his staff, one of his military leaders announced that they would not accept the results of the election.  An outbreak of violence against the opposing party and its supporters ensued.  A military-controlled runoff election resulted in Mugabe retaining office, after his only opponent dropped out of the race.

Two days after winning the not-so-democratic election, Mugabe waved a Bible in the air as he took the oath of office.

As I think of this man mocking the living God and His Word, I am reminded of the book of Isaiah, when God proved that He will not be mocked.  To briefly overview Israel’s history, the nation split into two kingdom’s after the death of King Solomon, son of King David.  After several years of idolatry and apostasy, prophets were sent by God to announce that both kingdoms would be conquered and their inhabitants exiled if they did not turn from their idols and other gods to the only true God.  They did not repent.  The northern kingdom, Israel, was conquered by the Assyrians and the southern, Judah, was later conquered by the Babylonians.

Back to Isaiah.  The book steadily builds toward the destruction of Jerusalem.  And if you know their history, then you know that they were indeed destroyed.  So when you get to chapter 36 and read that the Assyrians took “all of the fortified cities of Judah” and sent a “great army” to Jerusalem, you think “this is it.  Jerusalem is about to be taken” (unless you realize, as I failed to, that Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians, not the Assyrians).  But then Assyria really messes up.

The Israelites in the southern kingdom (Judah) and its capital (Jerusalem) had greatly sinned against God.  God promised to bring His judgment on them if they did not repent.  They did not repent.  Here was judgment knock, knock, knocking on their door.  However, Assyria blew it.  How?  They mocked the living God.

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, sent the Rabshakeh (apparently the title of a high-ranking Assyrian military officer) with a great army to Jerusalem.  The king of Judah sent three men out to meet the Rabshakeh.  In his efforts to negotiate, he asked who the Judeans were trusting in.  Egypt?  Egypt could not save them now.  Their God?  Hezekiah the king of Judah had removed the high places and altars to their God.

The Judean delegates asked the Rabshakeh to speak in Aramaic, which the people listening on the wall would not have understood, rather than in “the language of Judah.”  The Rabshakeh refused, and in a loud voice, in the language of Judah, he taunted the living God:

“Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, “The LORD will surely deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” Do not listen to Hezekiah. For thus says the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you by saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?'” -Isaiah 36:13-20

His message:  “the gods of the other nations we’ve conquered didn’t save them.  Neither will yours.”  When the king’s men delivered the message to Hezehiah, he surprisingly acted rightly.  Judah had sinned.  Hezekiah had sinned.  God promised judgment.  Here was judgment.  However, Hezekiah sent men to Isaiah, to entreat him to pray to God for their protection and deliverance from the hand of the Assyrian army.  And then Hezekiah prayed:

“O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.  Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. So now, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD.” -Isaiah 37:16-20

God answered Hezekiah’s prayer, and sent word through Isaiah the prophet that Assyria would be turned away.  The God of Judah was not like the other Gods, for He was sovereign over Assyria and all of her actions.  The Lord said that He had ordained all of the events that were then taking place:

“Have you not heard
   that I determined it long ago?
I planned from days of old
   what now I bring to pass”
-Isaiah 37:26

So how did the story end?  What came of this Assyrian army, whose king had mocked the living God and sent his messenger to taunt Him?

And the angel of the LORD went out and struck down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword. And after they escaped into the land of Ararat, Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place. -Isaiah 37:36-38

All of this is in the Bible that President Mugabe triumphantly waved in the air after being sworn into office.  Although wickedness has prevailed for the present, and although our limited vision and small minds can neither see nor understand how God could both be in control of the events in Zimbabwe and allow these things to take place, trust Him.  Trust that He is just.  Trust that He is in control.  Trust that He “determined it long ago” and that He “planned from days of old” what He now brings to pass.  Trust that He will not be mocked by a President who waves the Holy Bible in the air though he has come to power by opposing everything betwixt its covers.

And pray.  Pray that the gospel would be sent to both sides, as it is gravely needed to humble the violent oppressors and comfort the oppressed, and more importantly because Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth, and the only life.  All of us, whether we oppress or are oppressed, will stand before the God who created us on the great and terrible Day of the Lord.  However, our Creator and Judge is also our only option as Savior.  The living God took on flesh, lived a sinless life, and died for the sins of all who will die to themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him.  Turn from your sin and pursue His kingdom and His righteousness today. 

Also pray that God’s judgment would come quickly and that the violent leaders of Zimbabwe would be crushed to repentance or just crushed period.  Pray that other nations would intervene and defend those who are unable to defend themselves.  Perhaps the living God who heard and answered King Hezekiah’s prayer will condescend and lend us His ear.  He is able to save, let us pray that He will be willing.  His arm is not too short to save!

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July 5, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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