A Message for Colombia and Israel. The Lord is High Above All the Powers of this World!
Sennacherib with the army of Assyria
Living in Evil Days
There are times in our lives when God pulls back the clouds and gives us a vision of what He is doing in the earth. He also gives us a vision of what the enemy is doing. All of us would like to live in times of peace. I don’t know if at any point in history people have talked more about peace than they do now, but the Bible warns us that we are not living in days of peace. We are living in times when evil wants to march. There are people in this earth with demonic power behind them whose desire is destruction. They want power, they want control, they want to rule the earth, and behind them are evil spirits. But it is not just a matter of the devil marching because he wants to march—he knows that God is doing a work in this generation. And the devil wants to cut off that work, if he could. The need for us as believers is to get a clear vision of what God is doing in our day. In times of peace, it feels like you can live your life in any old way. But in times of war, we must live near to the Lord.
Young people, the Lord is searching for those in our generation who will have a heart for Him—not for those who are looking to find heaven on earth, but for those who will desire to see Heaven’s power come upon the earth. This world is not our paradise, but our desire is to see God’s power manifested in our generation. Yet in order for us to see that power, God is looking for vessels, young and old, who are yielded to Him.
In times of great conflict, it is not human might; it is not human armies, but the power of the Spirit of God that is the greatest force of all. And God desires to manifest His power in weak human beings like you and like me. But that requires certain things to be realities in our lives. Will we love the Lord more than all other things? Will we run after Him and seek Him first? Will we place in His hands our hopes and our dreams, and then leave them there so that we can run after the dreams and desires of God? Will we let go of the things that will pass away—in order to take hold of those things that will never pass away? God is not looking for many, but He is looking for those whose heart is perfect toward Him.
The Story of Sennacherib and His Invasion of Israel
Can we all turn to Isaiah chapter 36? I would like us to read together chapters 36 and 37. When I was a young man, I heard Mrs. Hannah Lowe give a message on these passages in New York City. She was a missionary to Colombia for about fifty years, beginning in the 1930’s. It was a message that changed my life, because it was one of those times when I understood that we are not saved simply so that we can go to heaven. We are saved in order to do God’s will on the earth. We are saved so that we can enter into the battle, resisting the enemy, and drawing near to God—standing against the devices of the evil one, and praying as Jesus prayed and taught us to pray, “Your will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven.”
Israeli Prisoners from Lachish (Relief from the British Museum)
This story in Isaiah is the story of an evil king, Sennacherib, the king of Assyria—a terribly evil man. You need to understand regarding the Assyrian Empire that, when they attacked a city, they would pile up the dead bodies in large mounds. You could say that they were the Nazis of their day. They would march through a territory in order to destroy and to tear down. They had already marched through the Kingdom of Israel and even parts of the Kingdom of Judah. The city of Lachish in Judah had fallen. Archaeologists have actually done digs at Lachish and found messages written by Israeli soldiers asking for help against the Assyrian army. In one final message, a soldier stated that he realized that no help was going to come. Lachish was in fact destroyed and burned to the ground.
Now this is also the story of another man, King Hezekiah of Judah. Thank God for Hezekiah! Hezekiah was a good man and a godly man, a man who trusted in the Lord. He didn’t have great armies to resist the Assyrians. He didn’t have strength and he knew it. But he knew that God had strength, and he stood in the face of the threats of the enemy and prevailed by faith. If it had not been for Hezekiah, not only would Israel have been cut off, but Judah would have been cut off before its time as well.
Never forget that the devil is a murderer. He promises good, but he brings death. He promises blessing, but he brings suffering. He is a liar, and that will never change till the end of time. The devil speaks to every one of us. The devil spoke to Jesus, and who am I that he will not speak to me? So what do I do? I say, “Devil, you are a liar and I refuse your words, and I trust in my God.”
Let us read chapter 36 together:
How many here today know how this story ends? Raise your hands. I want you for a minute to forget that you know how the story ends, and put yourself in the situation between chapter 36 and chapter 37. Sometimes the Bible will become more real if you literally put yourself into the story, because this all really happened! We have the archaeological evidence of exactly this battle, and of these cities that were under attack. But Sennacherib never wrote in his account how the story actually ended. His version of the story ends with the words, “I pinned Hezekiah in a cage like a bird.” That is what he wrote in his records.
So let us imagine ourselves for a moment there on the walls of Jerusalem. The other large cities of Judah have fallen, Israel has fallen, the nations that surrounded Israel have been destroyed, and tens of thousands have died. Some of you have seen the columns of smoke, not just coming from the burned cities, but from the burned piles of bodies. Like the Nazis, the Assyrians mowed people down, and then piled the bodies in mounds, setting them on fire. Imagine the stench! And there all around Jerusalem is the army that has just marched through nations. You feel like a little company of Boy Scouts there on the walls of Jerusalem—no strength, no power. And now put yourself in Hezekiah’s place. You are the king! What should you do?
Now why did I think of this passage today? Because if you look at Sennacherib from the perspective of almighty God, he was nothing more than a little mouth boasting great things. From the human perspective, he looked like a very big mouth, ready to eat people up. But take hold of God’s perspective, and he is but a man with his breath in his nostrils. I thought of this passage because, in our generation, there are little voices that boast great evil against the Lord and against His work in the earth. President Ahmadinejad of Iran is one such person. He wants to destroy Israel, to cut Israel off. Why? What is Israel to him? The reality is that Israel is only a tiny country. It is nothing compared to the rest of the nations on earth, but to the devil it is everything—because Israel is the center of God’s plan. From Jerusalem, Jesus will one day reign over all the earth. Ahmadinejad doesn’t understand any of that. All he knows is that Islam is supposed to control the earth one day, that the time is near for the Jews to be destroyed, for the Christians to be destroyed if they will not convert to Islam.
Times of Difficulty in Our Days
In the 1930’s, the Nazis said that they would destroy the Jews, but people wouldn’t believe them. I was reading yesterday the words of a Jew from that time who wrote, “Oh, those Nazis are fools! They will never be able to do what they want to do. There are so many good people in Germany. They will never be able to do what they plan.” But another Jew wrote that the good Germans like him, did nothing, so the evil Germans prevailed. There are many peace-loving Muslims, but evil is running through the Muslim world desiring the destruction of Israel and of the plan of God. Ahmadinejad doesn’t understand that he is fighting against God Himself, but the devil does. God is on the throne, and we need to pray for Iran. We do not pray against men, but we pray against powers and principalities so that men can be saved.
“Lord, enough! Let not evil prevail! Let not evil come before its time!” Why? Because, like the Nazis, that evil literally desires the destruction of millions of lives. Make no mistake! The devil is a liar from the beginning. He is looking for those who will do his will, and he has such people. But will God have those who will do His will, who will let go of lesser things to stand on the battle line? Like Hezekiah, no matter how weak you feel, no matter how large those armies gathered against you are, our God is greater than any mouth that is opened to curse His Name. Our God is greater than any plan of the devil. But will the saints of God believe it? Will we stand on the battle line and say “No!” to the devil?
Hugo Chavez of Venezuela
Ahmadinejad seems far away to some of you, but Hugo Chavez should feel very close. He is a man filled with hatred, filled with darkness. He is changing the currency of Venezuela—no more bolivars with the faces of famous figures in Venezuelan history on the bills. We were told in September that he wants to dedicate all the currency of Venezuela to three “gods” of spiritism and witchcraft, and he is putting their images on these bills. Make no mistake, this is not politics! This is not just the work of a man. When Mrs. Lowe and the evangelist Eugenio Jimenez did the massive evangelistic campaign in Caracas, Venezuela in 1961, the Lord gave Mrs. Lowe a vision. We have a map of Colombia here, but look sometime later at a map of Venezuela. The country has the shape of a bat with its wings spread out, and the Lord gave Mrs. Lowe a vision of a bat with its wings spread, covering Venezuela with darkness—sucking the life out of the people. The devil comes for nothing but to kill, to steal, and to destroy.
Behind Chavez is an evil that desires death, death for Venezuelans, death for Colombians. Last September, we were at a military base in Sogamoso, watching young men graduate and join the Colombian army. For me it made the threat against Colombia more real. The devil wants to march young men and women to death. I was praying there in that military base, and others were as well: “Lord, the devil wants war, but don’t let it be. Don’t let it come about. The devil proposes death, but Lord destroy the works of the enemy! Destroy that voice that boasts great things against You and against Colombia!” I am not speaking about the man, Chavez, but about the demons behind the man. He has yielded himself to darkness that he does not even understand. He does not know what he is doing, and that means we can pray for him: “Lord, have mercy on Hugo Chavez. He does not know what he is doing. Lord, have mercy on Ahmadinejad. He does not know what he is doing. Lord, have mercy on Fidel Castro there on his deathbed. He doesn’t understand who he has boasted against. Lord, not the enemy’s will, but your will be done!”
Armies stand ready to march with demons behind them, and the demons know who is the threat against their plans. The devil knows that there are two groups that stand in his way. The Jews, whether they know the Lord or not, are the Lord’s inheritance—as are as the Gentiles who believe in Jesus. Will we stand for the Lord in our generation? Will we open our eyes to see the battle that is going on in our time? Chavez is one more manifestation of that same demonic bat over Venezuela that appeared in Mrs. Lowe’s vision.
In Whom Are We Trusting?
Now step back from current events for a moment, and think again about this story regarding Sennacherib and Hezekiah. What was God’s promise to Jerusalem? That it would be the city of the Great King, that it would be where the Messiah would come, and that it would be where God would reign forever over the earth! There are times in the plan of God when things become very narrow. It all came down to the faithfulness of an Abraham at one point. It came down to the faithfulness of a Joseph at one point. It came down to the faithfulness of a Job at one point. And it came down to the faithfulness of a Hezekiah. As the king of Israel, would he believe the threats, the very real threats that this Assyrian general was making? Or would he believe God? Look at the first part of the threat, the lies spoken against Hezekiah and against Jerusalem, because the devil does the same to us as well—he comes at us with fear. Who are you trusting in? In whom do you place your hope? In whose hands is your future? Do you really believe God, or will you be afraid in the face of the threats of the enemy? The devil comes with fear, and every one of us has times when we are afraid. Often, we have reason to be afraid, but what is greater, our fear or our God? We have a choice when fear come—with armies behind it, with real problems behind it, with real sickness behind it, with even death behind it. Who will we believe? Will we believe the fear? If we do, we bow under the kingdom of the devil because the spirit of fear does not come from God. It comes from the big bully who comes at us with strong fear, but God is more powerful than that fear! Fear is ultimately a lie against God Himself!
That was the first threat against Hezekiah and it did not work, but what was the second? The Assyrian field commander accused Hezekiah of being a liar as he spoke to the people of Jerusalem: “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you; nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord…” And the devil lies to us as well: “Oh, don’t believe those Christians. They don’t know what they are talking about.” “Don’t believe those elders.” “Don’t believe what your brother or sister is telling you. You know better!” Behind many of those times when we think we know better than others stands a devil who is all too ready to lead us into deception. God has given us brothers and sisters in Christ because none of us sees the whole picture by ourselves. The Lord has set us in the Body because we need one another. The people of Jerusalem needed a king who spoke the truth, who tore down the altars of false gods. Sennacherib told the truth only partially when he said to the people of Jerusalem, “Hezekiah took away your altars! He took away your gods.” The first statement was true, but the second was a lie. The devil always mixes truth with a lie. Hezekiah took away the altars because Israel was to worship God alone. And He was to be worshipped in the temple, not in the high places. Under the reign of Hezekiah, God was doing a work in Jerusalem, laying the foundations of revival there, and the devil did not want it to come to pass. The devil wanted to cut off God’s work, and the lie he used was that Sennacherib had been sent by God to destroy Jerusalem. Yes, Sennacherib had been sent to destroy the nations that confided in false gods, but he was not sent to destroy those who trusted in the Lord.
Brothers, days of war are coming. God is going to shake the earth and much will fall, but those who trust in God will never be shaken. If I put my hope in anything else besides the Lord, it will be shaken. I say this especially to you young people because you understandably want to lead a normal life, but what Mrs. Lowe warned us when we were young was that we were not living in a generation that can simply live a normal life. This is the generation in which we must seek the Lord; this is the time to seek first the kingdom of heaven. As she said to us as young men and women, “You will never lose serving God.” God has given me a lovely Colombian wife, and four beautiful sons—but He gave them to me for His sake. They are not mine, they are His. Everything is His! Give Him all, and He will bless you. But He will bless you with things that ultimately do not belong to you, but belong to Him. Because everything that belongs to Him is forever, and everything that belongs just to us will pass away.
Relief of Israelites impaled at Lachish
" Now what was the next lie that Sennacherib was using against Jerusalem? The Assyrian field commander was saying in effect, “Don’t trust in God! Trust in the words of Sennacherib. Make peace, and you will live in peace. I will leave you alone in your houses. You will have your fig trees and your vines.” But some Jew with a sense of humor could have said, “Yes, just like all those other peoples whose houses and cities you burned down to the ground!” The devil is a liar. He says, “Serve me.” He said to Jesus, “Serve me, and I will give you all the kingdoms of the earth.” But then there is that word in verse 17, “until I come and take you away to a land like your own.” That is the devil’s lie! “Do you want to have peace? Then listen to me until I come and take you away…” Stop for a moment at that phrase, “take you away…,” because everything that follows it is a lie. Every promise of the devil is a lie. Every promise of the devil may bring peace for a little while, but it ends in death. And death and destruction is what the devil intended here. You can almost hear the demons proclaiming, “We will destroy Jerusalem! We will make an end of these people, so that God will not have His way in the earth.”
God has plans for Colombia! God has plans for the nations of Latin America! Revival has begun, but I believe that there is a much larger work that the Lord wants to do. And that larger work which He wants to do in Colombia will be with such power and such anointing that Colombia will not be able to contain it! The Lord said to the Jewish people, “Bring in your tithes! Give me what belongs to me, and see if I will not pour out from heaven a blessing that you cannot contain.” And God is saying to Colombia, “Don’t fear Chavez! Don’t fear foreign armies. Don’t fear the devil. Don’t fear the idols. Don’t fear witchcraft. Fear me and give me what belongs to me, and see if I will not pour out a blessing that your nation cannot contain—a blessing which will instead spread to Venezuela, to Peru, and to Bolivia, to Argentina and to Chile, and to all the nations of Latin America.”
God was not done with Jerusalem, but Sennacherib came to make an end of Jerusalem. And that is why we need to read the next chapter of Isaiah. God is not done with Colombia, and that is why Colombia is surrounded by people who hate her. Colombia has been called the Israel of Latin America. Make no mistake—lest we become proud! Israel is nothing special in itself. It was the least of the nations, but God set His love upon it, for His own name’s sake. Many North Americans despise Colombia, and in some ways Colombia is another of the “least” of the nations. But God has set his love upon Colombia. He takes the last and makes it first, not so that we can boast of what we have done, but so that we can boast of what God has done. Where the devil desired death and destruction, God has given life and salvation.
The Second Part of the History of Sennacherib and Jerusalem
Let us read this next chapter in Isaiah. You need to know how this story ends because it is one of the most powerful stories in history—Isaiah 37:
Forgive me for taking more time than usual with this message, but this is the only Sunday that I will have at Monte Sion on this trip. Before I came to Colombia, I had no plans to speak on this theme, but from the time that I was on the airplane, the Lord was putting this theme on my heart. I believe that it is an important theme for us to understand, because these passages speak to our generation, to our time. The battle is the same today as it was yesterday. The devil wants us to believe that it is a battle between men, but it is not. It is not a battle between Iran and Israel. It is not a battle between Venezuela and Colombia, because God wants to save the Iranians and the Israelis, the Venezuelans and the Colombians. It is a battle between God and the powers of hell. The question is not who is the battle between, but who will be ready for the battle, ready to serve the Lord in the time of battle?
Hezekiah was a righteous man, but young people, when did he become righteous? When did he learn to fear God? When did he learn to have faith in the Lord? He was a young man when he became king, but he learned to fear God in his youth. He learned to choose the right when he was young, and to refuse the wrong. He learned to fear God, not the world, and not even his friends as a young man. He could have feared his ungodly Jewish friends as a boy, and there were a lot of ungodly Jews around when he was growing up, so it was tough! But Hezekiah chose to fear God as a boy, and that is why he did not fear Sennacherib as a man. The boy is the father of the man. The girl is the mother of the woman that you will become.
Young people, in making your choices—what you allow out of your lips, what you allow into your mind, what you place in front of your eyes—you are already making decisions that will affect the rest of your life. God wants you to make decisions while you are young to flee the evil and run after the good, to put your hope in Him and not in the world, to give your heart to the Lord and not to the world. If you do not give your heart to God, your life will be wasted and forgotten forever. But no one who gives their life to the Lord will ever be forgotten!
One of the greatest poems in English literature is a famous poem about Sennacherib and Hezekiah, Lord Byron’s “The Destruction of Sennacherib.” Why do we still speak of Hezekiah today? In himself, he was no great man. But faced with the threats we just read in Isaiah 27:1, what did he do? Did he call out his armies? Did he go out and make a full charge against the Assyrian army? Did he threaten them back? Did he rebuke the king of Assyria in the strength of his own flesh? No, he did things that instead showed weakness. He tore his clothes, he put off his kingly garments, he covered himself with sackcloth, and he went into the house of the Lord. Some other person walking in fleshly strength at the time could have accused him of being a coward: “The battle is out there! Why are you hiding in God’s house?” Why was Hezekiah in God’s house when the battle was in the field? Because he learned as a boy, like David, that the battle is not won in the field—the battle is won in the house of God. If we do not prevail in prayer before God first, we will not prevail in the field. But if we prevail in prayer in the house of God, then no army can prevail against Israel, or against Colombia, or against the plan of God for Latin America.
Today’s Battle Is A Spiritual Battle
Brothers and sisters, the battle is in the house of God. It is not against Chavez’s submarines, nor his new jet aircraft, nor his latest tanks. God is on the throne, and the threats by Hugo Chavez and his officials are against God Himself because men are saying, “We will reign in the earth, and you Jews, you Christians, you will not stand. We will run you over!” And behind those last words are the words, “We will run over your God!” Listen to the words of Hezekiah in verse 3 because this proves that he was a man of vision. He rightly said, “This day is a day of trouble and rebuke and blasphemy….” Please note, however, that Hezekiah was not concerned about himself but about his people. King Saul was concerned about himself: “me, my name, my honor,” while King David was concerned about God and His honor. Hezekiah was not concerned about himself! He was afraid for the children of Israel, and he knew that the Lord had plans for His people. Note that he says, “for the children have come to birth….” He did not say “to the point of death.” They have come to the point of birth, “but there is no strength to bring them forth.” What was Hezekiah believing for in his generation? Revival! He prayed for revival from childhood. He tore down the high places, he destroyed the works of darkness for one reason only, and I paraphrase his words: “Lord, may we see your power in our land! The children are at the point of birth, You is about to do a great work, but we have no strength to bring it forth, because the devil has come to destroy.” But then he says, “It may be that God will hear that general’s words, because he did not blaspheme against me. He blasphemed against God.”
Chavez with Ahmadinejad of Iran
Ahmadinejad and others like him are blaspheming against the God of Israel. They are saying that Islam will reign over the earth. It will not! Today is the day in which God is moving for the Muslim nations. It is time for them to escape their darkness, and come to the light. Muslim children are coming to birth through Jesus Christ and being persecuted, their churches firebombed. They are being thrown into prison, and some are being killed throughout the Muslim world. But God is going to do a work in bringing out a last days’ remnant from among the Muslim people. And God desires a remnant out of the lands where Catholic religion ruled for centuries as well. The children are come to birth, escaping the idols, escaping the witchcraft, escaping the spiritual oppression, escaping out of the darkness into the light. But we don’t have the strength to bring them forth. We cannot make revival happen. We cannot destroy the works of the enemy, but we can go into the house of God.
This is our privilege, because as Psalm149 says, this is the privilege of the saints of God, “To execute upon them the judgment written….” (KJV) Judgment was also written against Sennacherib because, like the devil, he overstepped his bounds. There are little mouths in the earth who are lifting themselves against God. Brothers, the judgment against them is already written, but will we go into God’s house and cry out to Him? Will we tear down the high places? What must we pray for Colombia? “Lord, tear down the idols! Lord, tear down the high places! Lord, destroy the witchcraft! Cleanse the land!” God wants to send revival, but Colombia needs Hezekiah’s who will cleanse their own lives, and then begin the work of cleansing the land. You cannot cleanse Colombia until you let God cleanse you. You cannot be a soldier for Christ, until the sword of Christ has cut your own heart.
Young people, invite the Lord to go through every room of your house, every secret place, and cleanse it. You are called to occupy a throne, like Hezekiah. We are called to rule and reign in the earth. Lord, cleanse us while we are little in our own eyes, so that when you bring us to a place of battle, there will be nothing in us that the devil can get hold of. There was nothing in Hezekiah’s life that the devil could get hold of. God could answer his prayers in power! Without a single Israeli sword, without a single Israeli spear, the entire Assyrian army died in their tents. When in history has anything like that ever happened? Not before and not since!
Our God is the God of Hezekiah. He does not desire to strike down men, but he does desire to strike down demonic powers who have ruled over the lands of Latin America, who have held the people in bondage through fear. Why do Colombians offer sacrifices to idols? They think they worship God, but they worship the “god” of fear. How many in Colombia don’t know the God of love, don’t know the God of forgiveness, don’t know the God of mercy? All they know is the “god” of death, and of fear, and of oppression, and of darkness. They think this is God! No wonder the Lord wants to destroy those who are no “gods”! Sennacherib marched through nations and destroyed the gods that were no gods. But he himself was destroyed when he tried to come against the Living God!
Let us pray,
I believe that now is a time for prayer, to give all your heart to God as King Hezekiah did. It is the hour to yield ourselves 100% to the Lord, because He also wants to give the nations of Latin America His 100%. He desires lives that are offered to Him forever, that are a fragrance, lives that will bear the fragrance of Jesus to the nations…
Christopher N. White ©2010. (Message given at Monte Sion in Chía, Colombia, Sunday morning, January 3, 2010.)
All Bible references are from The New King James Version (NKJV), Thomas Nelson, Inc.: Miami, Florida, 1982, unless otherwise noted.
KJV: The King James Version.