12/29/T – Humility and Praise

2 Kings 18:13-19:4; Acts 21:1-6; Psalms 149:2-9; Proverbs 31:8-9

OT: ““Don’t listen to Hezekiah, for this is what the king of Assyria says: ‘Make peace with me and surrender to me. Then each of you may eat from his own vine and his own fig tree, and each may drink water from his own cistern until I come and take you away to a land like your own land — a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey — so that you may live and not die. But don’t listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you, saying, “The Lord will rescue us.” Has any of the gods of the nations ever rescued his land from the power of the king of Assyria?’” …Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the court secretary, and Joah son of Asaph, the court historian, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and reported to him the words of the royal spokesman. When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the Lord’s temple. He sent Eliakim, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the court secretary, and the leading priests, who were covered with sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They said to him, “This is what Hezekiah says: ‘Today is a day of distress, rebuke, and disgrace, for children have come to the point of birth, but there is no strength to deliver them. Perhaps the Lord your God will hear all the words of the royal spokesman, whom his master the king of Assyria sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke him for the words that the Lord your God has heard. Therefore, offer a prayer for the surviving remnant.’”” (‭‭2 Kings‬ ‭18:31-33, 37; ‭19:1-4‬ ‭CSB)

The same king who captured the Northern kingdom of Israel and took its citizens into exile, turned his attention to Jerusalem and the Southern kingdom of Judah. First, King Sennacherib of Assyria demanded tribute, to which Hezekiah disappointingly obliged. Later, Sennacherib returned – and instead of demanding tribute, he demanded surrender. His plans were to exile the people of Judah, just as he exiled the people of Israel. He sent three envoys to Jerusalem to sow fear into the hearts of the people and negotiate the terms of surrender. The envoys mocked King Hezekiah and blasphemed the Lord God. This time, instead of giving into Sennacherib’s demands, Hezekiah humbled himself and turned to the Lord. Hezekiah went into the temple to plead his case before the Lord while he sent his three representatives to the prophet Isaiah. Hezekiah and the people of Judah were outmanned and overwhelmed. They had no ability to save themselves, and were in a desperate situation. Their only hope was to trust in the Lord God to deliver them… and deliver them, He would. Overwhelmed is a word that would describe many this year. 2020 has taxed all of us: natural disasters, a global pandemic, racial unrest, political unrest, economic instability, conspiracy theories galore, the death of loved ones, the loss of a job, the closing of a business… and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight. When we are overwhelmed, the best thing to do is to do what Hezekiah did: humble ourselves, lay everything out before the Lord, and trust Him for His deliverance.

Psalms: “Let Israel celebrate its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King. Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and lyre. For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Let the faithful celebrate in triumphal glory; let them shout for joy on their beds. Let the exaltation of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, inflicting vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, binding their kings with chains and their dignitaries with iron shackles, carrying out the judgment decreed against them. This honor is for all his faithful people. Hallelujah!” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭149:2-9‬ ‭CSB)

Partnered with our humility is the praise of the Lord our God and Maker. Worship involves bringing ourselves low and lifting God up high. When we do not ascribe glory to God… when He is not highly esteemed in our eyes, the circumstances that challenge us will seem overwhelming… especially when we believe that we have to handle everything ourselves. However, when we humble ourselves and ascribe glory to God, our reality changes and our perspective shifts. We are able to view the circumstances that frighten us and challenge us from God’s point of view instead of our own. God loves and takes pleasure in those who place their faith fully on Him. He loves and takes pleasure in those who will humble themselves before Him… and he blesses the humble with grace and salvation. Praise is also powerful warfare against the things that surround and assail us. Like a large, two edged broad sword in the hand of a warrior, so is high and exalted praise on our lips. God establishes His throne in the midst of a praising people. When we make Him Lord, and shout and sing the praises of our King, we open the door for His rule and reign to enter our lives and our surrounding circumstances. We also announce to the spiritual powers and principalities around us that we are not merely fighting in our own strength, but are reinforced with all the power, authority, and resources of Heaven. Through humility and praise, impenetrable walls fall down, impossible situations are made possible, and ways are made where there were no ways. Through humility and praise, enemies are defeated and justice ultimately prevails. Through humility and praise, we take things out of our own hands and open the door for God to show Himself great on our behalf. If we are faithful to God and faithful followers of His Son Jesus Christ, then we have the great honor of bringing God’s glorious kingdom to bear in our lives and on our surroundings… and we do that through humility and praise.

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