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Besieged But Not Defeated

2 Chronicles 32:7-8 - Be strong and courageous; do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria, nor because of all the multitude that is with him; for the one with us is greater than the one with him. 8With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.

Read 2 Chronicles 32:1-23.

The Bible leaves no doubt that every Christian is involved in spiritual warfare. In fact, we are the prime targets of the enemy. (See Ephesians 6:10-18.) Satan knows that Christians are on the winning side, but he does his best to make us ineffective soldiers or even battlefield casualties. He knows he can't take us to hell with him, but he also knows that many Christians are an easy mark for day-to-day defeat. This kind of Christian is hardly an asset in the "good fight" (1 Timothy 6:12), and certainly does not bring glory to God. Remember that Satan's ultimate aim has always been to put down God and diminish His glory. All of us must ask ourselves: "Am I indirectly helping the enemy to accomplish his evil ends?"

In any theater of war there are always areas where the enemy forces are more highly concentrated. The college campus, especially the secular college campus, is one of those spiritual combat zones. Part of the enemy's master strategy is to surround and bombard growing Christians at this stage of life and leave them spiritually disarmed and wounded--in many cases for years to come. The siege and bombardment begins in September and continues throughout the school year. Only the prepared and armed Christian can resist and outlast such a blistering attack. The faithful growing Christian will not merely endure the attacks but will actually see the enemy retreat in frustration. (See James 4:7 and 1 Peter 5:8-9.) Is this your experience?

The Bible never says that the Christian will be free from enemy attack and siege, but the Bible does indicate that the believer never has to suffer defeat. In fact, to be under siege and yet not defeated is a characteristic of spiritual warfare. Listen to the words of 2 Corinthians 4:8-9: "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." Our omnipotent God is certainly able to deliver us from any attack or siege of the enemy, but sometimes He will purposely delay His intervention so that we become battle-hardened and experienced soldiers, and more dependent on the wisdom of our Commander-in-Chief. When we fully realize that the situation is beyond our own feeble abilities and we look away from our battle medals to the Lord Himself, the power and glory of God can be really experienced and seen and appreciated. Maybe you're undergoing a sustained attack from the enemy at the present time. Don't jump to the conclusion that you're some kind of abnormal Christian or that you're going through some kind of abnormal Christian experience. You're experiencing a form of spiritual warfare. Remember, a prolonged siege is not a defeat! You can even be joyful under siege because you know that deliverance is on the way as you look to the Lord--and help will not arrive too late!

An illustration of this type of spiritual warfare is found in the passages of 2 Chronicles 32. Remember that all the historical events which are recorded in the Old Testament are "written for our instruction" (Romans 15:4). Many tactics of our enemy, Satan, as well as spiritual principles for overcoming him, are portrayed in the battles of the Old Testament. In 2 Chronicles 32 we have the account of the invasion of Judah in 701 BC by Sennacherib, the powerful king of pagan Assyria. Here we read how God miraculously intervened and delivered His people in the face of attack and siege. Just as King Sennacherib was about to overrun Jerusalem and completely subdue the nation of Judah, the Lord stepped in and brought victory out of the jaws of defeat. The fact that God has recorded this event no less than three times in His Word (2 Kings 18-19; 2 Chronicles 32; Isaiah 36-37) should be a clue that there are some important lessons here for the growing Christian.

Let us see how the tactics of Sennacherib are strikingly similar to the tactics of Satan in the combat zone of the college campus. Notice, first, that there is taunting (v10). The Assyrians mocked, "What kind of God are you trusting in that lets you remain under siege?" Sound familiar? "Where's all that no-pressure happiness you're supposed to have as a Christian?" "How can you still believe in that Sunday School God of yours who promises you everything and then doesn't deliver?!" Many would-be Christian soldiers fold at this early stage of battle. They can't handle the taunts of the devil. They fail to see that the Lord has not promised us instant and immediate deliverance in spiritual battles. Remember that a mountain-top is enjoyed more if you've spent some time in the valley, and victory is appreciated more if you've struggled in the fight.

Another tactic of the enemy is twisting the truth (vs11-12). Sennacherib tried to convince the people that they were being misled by King Hezekiah in some kind of fanatical "Jim Jones cause" (v11), and also that Hezekiah was actually insulting the very God they were trusting by taking away His altars and places of worship (v12). They'd better not trust this deceitful king any longer, and certainly they shouldn't depend on the God he had offended! But Sennacherib distorted the facts. Hezekiah had removed many high places and altars because God's law (Deuteronomy 12:5-14) declared that God was to be worshipped with sacrifice only at the altar of the central sanctuary in Jerusalem, not at any altar of the cultic "high places". Furthermore, good King Hezekiah was not misleading the people but rather challenging them to hold on and trust the Lord whatever the cost--even to death. Hezekiah knew that to be besieged was not to be defeated. He knew that God would bring deliverance to the faithful at any time He chose to do so, and there was nothing that Sennacherib's puny arm of flesh could do to stop God's intervention. As Sennacherib twisted the truth, so Satan has been twisting the truth from the beginning. (See John 8:44.) How often you hear Sennacherib-type statements fired at you on the spiritual battlefield. "You can't trust these Christian leaders. They're all fanatics and con artists." "Your negative one-way-only ideas are so narrow. In fact, they are offensive to the very God you claim to be following! Don't you know that God is universal Love, and that there are many ways to peace and light?" As growing Christians we must be very careful that what we believe is not contaminated by any of Satan's twisted "truths".

Threatening or terrifying is a further tactic of the enemy (vs13-19). The ancient Assyrians were known for their extreme cruelty to prisoners of war. Sennacherib's henchmen reminded the people of Judah about what had happened to other nations that had resisted the Assyrian war machine. The threatening was not over in a day but continued throughout the siege. The sustained scare tactics included written letters which insulted and blasphemed the Lord God of Israel. How very similar to what the Christian student faces in the secular classroom today. The threat of lower grades and career suicide continually hangs over the heads of Christians who will not keep quiet about their faith. Secular lectures and literature are humanistic to the core. What insult and blasphemy against the Creator of man! And Christian students are expected to acquiesce and not resist such teaching. This, of course, is all part of Satan's unrelenting threat to frighten the Christian to the point of surrender so that he can turn the siege into defeat and "take the city" (v18). Don't let Satan take your city this school year.

Tempting is another tactic that Satan constantly uses during his sieges. Notice in the parallel accounts (2 Kings 18:23, 31-32 and Isaiah 36:8, 16-17) that Sennacherib used this tactic. He promised the people of Judah a somewhat pleasant exile if they would just yield and give up any idea of defense. Behind the bait of a pleasant exile, of course, was the hook of slavery. The Assyrian track record left no doubt as to what became of nations that capitulated. How foolish, we might say, for Judah to even think of surrendering! And yet how many Christians have foolishly yielded and surrendered and sold out to Satan's temptations--even when they knew the ultimate consequences. The tempting pleasures of fraternity parties, for example, have often left compromising Christian students with unhappy lives. How much better it would be to resist going anyplace where we know there will be temptation. Some Christians have yielded to the temptation of "big money" schemes to the point where their testimonies have been tarnished or even ruined. If only we could be stronger and more patient under the siege of temptation and wait for the Lord's promised "way of escape" (1 Corinthians 10:13)!

God's deliverance finally came to besieged Jerusalem (vs20-23). 185,000 enemy soldiers were struck down in one night. What a miraculous deliverance! Perhaps the Angel of the Lord used the means of a plague, as the ancient historian Herodotus suggests. In any case, the siege ended with deliverance, not defeat, because God's people looked to Him and waited for Him, and were not deceived by the enemy's tactics. At the end of this school year, it would be a great testimony to the glory of God if you could say, in reference to your present experiences in the campus combat zone, "Besieged, but not defeated!"
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