Secondly, Hezekiah reinstituted worship, inviting all of Judah and Israel to celebrate the Passover together. Eager to empower others to live for God, he asked God to pardon those who lacked sufficient time to prepare for the celebration. Then, he extended the feast an additional week, largely providing for the sacrifices at his own expense and requesting his leaders to give generously as well.
With God firmly established as Lord, the people united under Hezekiah’s leadership. They broke down altars to other gods while Hezekiah elevated the role of the Levites and priests. By having the people bring their first-fruit offerings and tithe, he made sure the ministers of the temple were provided for and were enabled to devote full-time work unto the Lord. The bounty of these offerings filled storerooms in the temple and supplied a daily portion to every male of the Levitical tribes.
This God-focus brought the enemy against Hezekiah, and Hezekiah responded with practical warfare preparations and continued trust in the Lord. He built defenses for the city by strengthening and building walls and towers. He weakened the enemy by impeding their water supply. He supported the people with words of encouragement and continued reminders that God was on their side. And in His personal life, he humbled himself and prayed earnestly unto the Lord.
The outcome was a mighty victory with the angel of the Lord slaying the adversary.
As it was with Hezekiah, before the enemy comes, our first line of defense—and offense—against the enemy is preparing our hearts and our temple by recognizing our need for God and submitting our will to His sovereignty. With our heart clean and our worship renewed, our trust in God slips permanently into place. The lordship of the Savior is in authority. From our personal commitment, evangelism arises. The wonders of what God has done is celebrated and revival ensues. Unity among believers prevails, and in the wake of spiritual refreshing, altars that memorialize the gods of this world are torn down. Each of these build a greater spiritual fortress that casts a shadow of light over the adversary’s dominion.
So, he threatens us with what we can see and hear. He turns our successes against us, prodding us to doubt our God, His word, and His power. He throws God’s promise to the side like a limp carrot, and dangles his lies of God’s ineffectualness before us instead. He knows if his fear tactics succeed, he can weaken our human defense.
An open gate is all he needs to come into our lives and wreak havoc—regardless of how fortified our “city” might be.
If he can get our human nature to agree with him, then all of the walls we have built by faith, all of the words we have spoken as spiritual declarations, all of the weapons we have sharpened to use against him are of little value. To surrender the gate is to succumb to his ploy. Surrendering to him is a failure to surrender to God. Surrender is taking sides with him because we believe him MORE than we believe God. If our allegiance of faith is with the adversary, it is no longer with God, and God is no longer Lord. Agreeing with the enemy gives him control, and our obedience to him brings about our demise. An open gate permits him into places he otherwise would be powerless against. It allows him to defeat us, gain our spiritual territory, and sabotage the incredible victory God has in store for us.
But we can choose to tune out his voice and to turn to God instead. Humbling ourselves, we let go of control. We surrender to God’s will, solidifying our complete trust and reliance on Him. We loosen our grip on our need to know the outcome and our need to map a course to that outcome. In doing so, we release the power fear has on us, and we gain assurance. Our faith, transferred from the enemy’s lies to the hope we have in Jesus, enables God to exercise HIS power against the enemy—a much greater power to be reckoned with than our own artillery. The angel of the Lord, which has been encamping around God’s people all along, rises up and turns sharpened arrows against our adversary. God fights for us.
In the aftermath, our territory remains intact, we possess the spoils of war, and the honor of nations rests upon us as the news of what God has done spreads beyond our borders. We enjoy the thrill of victory—because when we trust in Jesus, we always win.