“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” Ephesians 6:10
I’m starting a book that I have started a few times already. It should prove to be one of the best books I shall read, at least that’s what great men like Charles Spurgeon and John Newton say. “The Christian In Complete Armour” by William Gurnall is a classic. It was originally written in 1655 and has since been updated and abridged to make it easier to read in today’s English. The only problem I am having is that the material is so dense that I end up getting quite distracted.
For example, it starts out with the verse of Ephesians 6:10, “be strong in the Lord.” It then gives two references:
2 Chronicles 32:7a “Be strong in and courageous.
Isaiah 35:4a “Be strong, fear not!
Well, I had to find out what that was all about. Turns out the first one concerns King Hezekiah. He was one of the few “good” kings of Judah. This quote was part of his encouragement to his people as Sennacherib, King of Assyria, was preparing to take them over.
2 Chronicles 32:6-8 And he set combat commanders over the people and gathered them together to him in the square at the gate of the city and spoke encouragingly to them, saying, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
I like that he says, “to help us and to fight our battles.” Notice he DOESN’T say, “to help us fight our battles.” Some would say that our prayer is to pull God alongside of us, to “help” us in our daily walk. But Hezekiah says something quite different. He puts this in two separate actions. First, God helps us, as if we are in trouble so he comes to our rescue. Then, he fights our battles. Notice that he isn’t fighting our battles “with” us. No, God is the one fighting our battles. I find this quite interesting.
From there, the king of Assyria went home after “the Lord sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp…” He then “returned with shame of face to his own land.” It records that the king of Assyria was then killed by his own sons.
Well, there was more to that story. I looked into the other record, in the book of 2 Kings, and found this:
2 Kings 19:35 And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.
Now, the “angel of the Lord” is pretty well established to be pre-incarnate Jesus. If that is the case, then Jesus single-handedly slaughtered 185,000 enemy soldiers. In any case, the Lord, our God, is the one who made this happen.
Well, it was in 2 Kings, that I noticed that Isaiah was involved in all this, and guess what? That was the reference that Gurnall had in his book. So, off I go to Isaiah to learn all about that – after, of course, I read all there was to read about Hezekiah in 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings. Sure enough, Isaiah had written a whole bunch about all this business, too! In fact, in the middle of it, I found one of my favorite passages:
And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Isn’t that a cool picture? That’s the Highway we are on – you and I as believers. We are making our way to our home; the place Jesus is preparing for us.
I tell you what, the bible is such a cool book! I thank God for study guides, like the one William Gurnall wrote, that will take me on an unexpected journey like the one I just had. It’s starting to look as though it will take me a long, long time to finish this gem of a little book.
Father, thank you. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers