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What to do when the Worldlings Sneer!

03/09/2016

What to do when the Worldlings Sneer.

Text . Isaiah 36

Marching on while the worldlings sneer…  It’s a popular hymn, and it is certainly true in part.  Christians constantly face a tirade of abuse from the world. In this narrative, we see the opening gambit of the Assyrians.  It is to demoralise the people in the city, to prepare them for their surrender.

  1. The Sneering Spokesman!

Let’s just look at some of the mocking sneers from this Assyrian ambassador.

    • Who are you trusting now? V4-5. What confidence have you!  Are you still trusting in:-
    1. Egypt? V6 Where are they? He uses an illustration of a brittle reed. Egypt is like that reed, totally unreliable, unable to help, causing pain to those who depend upon its supposed strength.  So, then are you trusting in…
    2. God? V7 Now here is something really interesting.  This Rabshekah has an elementary understanding of theology, – just enough to get it wrong!  He has been watching Israel, and watching the actions of Hezekiah.  He thought that because Hezekiah had acted against the superstitious Baal religion, Israel had been robbed of their God!   cf 2 Kings 18
    • You are so pathetic! V8-9  It’s a common taunt isn’t it!  People look at the church, small, worldly, faith mixed with doubt, leaders who don’t know what they believe…  And they scoff
    • God told me to do it!  V10. Arn’t there so many gods in this world, so how do you know yours is the right one?
    • Why not just surrender? V16 Why not just give up?  What would this surrender to the sneering, mocking world involve?
      1. Paying a tribute – homage to the world.
      2. Making peace with the world. This would involve being fed and watered and getting an easy time!
      3. Exile from the place of God.

        So, let’s summarise so far.  The ‘church’ – Israel is entrenched within the walls of the city, surrounded by a hostile enemy.  But the people of God are faithless, and self-sufficient.  Instead of thrusting the Lord, they are trusting in human strength, and it has failed.  Now, because of their backslidden condition they are being mocked and sneered by the mouthpiece of the world.

         

        1. The Listening Councillors!

        Now, what of the people in the city?  They were represented by three men. Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace supervisor, accompanied by Shebna the scribe and Joah son of Asaph, the secretary, went out to meet him. (NET) How would they respond?

        • Sssssshhhh!  Yes!  They asked him to stop speaking in Hebrew, for the people of the city, who were standing along the wall could understand what they he was saying!  It would be like asking Richard Dawkins to stop going on radio to mock religion!  It would encourage him to do it all the more.  And that’s exactly what happened.  In response to their request the ambassador spoke all the louder!  V12-13
        • They held their tongues. This was Hezekiah’s strategy, not theirs.  He wanted them to remain silent, and not enter into dialogue with the Assyrians.  This was a wise move on Hezekiah’s part.  It never does any good to enter into discussion with cynics and scoffers.
        • They reported to the King. Note their torn clothes in v22.  It was a sign of utter humiliation and grief.

        Next week, we shall see the outcome of the battle, and what Hezekiah did in response to the message his Councillors had brought him.  Meanwhile…

         

        1. Are there any Lessons for the Church?

        Hebrews 12:3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

        1. We are to learn that Christians have always lived in a world where they, their church and their Saviour have been mocked, reviled and persecuted.   When these things are said, we must remember that this is not new, and more importantly, we should remember this.
        2. Our Saviour was mocked and sneered at more than we ever were.
          1. He was mocked by the Jews.
          2. He was mocked at his trial. Jesus was flogged and mocked by Roman soldiers.
          3. He was mocked at the cross.
          4. He bore that humiliation FOR US! He has already taken all those sneers and all those false accusations, and borne them in his own body on the tree.  Heidelberg Q. What do you confess when you say that he suffered? A.During all the time he lived on earth, but especially at the end, Christ bore in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race.  Thus, by his suffering, as the only atoning sacrifice,  he has redeemed our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtained for us the grace of God, righteousness, and eternal life.  All his suffering, from birth to death, all his humiliation, and the mock, he bore that for you and for me.
        3. Jesus warned us of this. He said, Matthew 5:11Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Luke 6:22Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

        In fact when the Assyrian ambassador was mocking God’s people, (even in their backslidden condition) they were actually mocking God himself.  Isaiah 37:4 ‘to mock the living God.

        So when the world mocks us as cruelly as the rabshekah mocked the Jews, cowering within the city walls, do we retaliate, or act as they act?  No, we focus our eyes afresh on Jesus, and remember that ultimately it is He whom they are mocking, for he took all the worlds mockery and sin, and we rest and trust and have confidence in him.

        From → Isaiah, Sermon Notes

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