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Isaiah 30:15 – God’s Formula for Facing Challenges

Today, I’d like to share a part from the Bible that I believe will encourage those of us
who face challenges in our lives. Everyone faces challenges. You may be facing financial
troubles, problems at home and in your family, or maybe you don’t know where your life is
headed. In fact, Jesus promised us that we would face challenges in life, but told us to take heart
because He had overcome for our sake.

John 16:33b
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

So if you are facing challenges in life, don’t feel like you’re alone. The Bible is full of
people who are facing challenges. When we look at the example of people in the Bible, we can
see that some of them responded in the right way, and some responded to challenges in the
wrong way.
One example is Ahaz king of Judah. Ahaz worshiped idols instead of God, and whenever
he faced challenges he always tried to solve things his own way. He would try everything except
turning to God.

2 Chronicles 28:16-23
At that time King Ahaz sent to the king of Assyria for help. The Edomites had again come and
attacked Judah and carried away prisoners, while the Philistines had raided towns in the
foothills and in the Negev of Judah. They captured and occupied Beth Shemesh, Aijalon and
Gederoth, as well as Soco, Timnah and Gimzo, with their surrounding villages. The LORD had
humbled Judah because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he had promoted wickedness in Judah and
had been most unfaithful to the LORD. Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria came to him, but he gave
him trouble instead of help. Ahaz took some of the things from the temple of the LORD and from
the royal palace and from the princes and presented them to the king of Assyria, but that did not
help him.

In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD. He offered sacrifices
to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, "Since the gods of the kings of
Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me." But they were his downfall
and the downfall of all Israel.

However, Ahaz’s son was Hezekiah, who respected and worshipped God. Hezekiah
reinstated the community worship in the Temple and even called all the Israelites together to
celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. He repented of the sins of his ancestors.
Like Ahaz, Hezekiah also faced challenges from the Assyrians, who controlled a vast
empire. Let’s see how Hezekiah responded when the Assyrians invaded Judah.
2 Chronicles 32:1-8
After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded
Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself. When Hezekiah
saw that Sennacherib had come and that he intended to make war on Jerusalem, he consulted
with his officials and military staff about blocking off the water from the springs outside the city,
and they helped him. A large force of men assembled, and they blocked all the springs and the
stream that flowed through the land. "Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of
water?" they said. Then he worked hard repairing all the broken sections of the wall and
building towers on it. He built another wall outside that one and reinforced the supporting
terraces of the City of David. He also made large numbers of weapons and shields.

He appointed military officers over the people and assembled them before him in the square at
the city gate and encouraged them with these words: "Be strong and courageous. Do not be
afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a
greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD
our God to help us and to fight our battles." And the people gained confidence from what
Hezekiah the king of Judah said.

Hezekiah tells the people to stand fast in their new relationship with God, even in the face
of the mighty Assyrian army. He did all that he needed to do to be responsible—he stopped up
the springs, he strengthened fortifications, and he made weapons—but his faith was in God, not
in his strategy.
When the Assyrians were besieging Jerusalem, Hezekiah cried out to God to save them,
and He did.

2 Chronicles 32:20-23
King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this. And
the LORD sent an angel, who annihilated all the fighting men and the leaders and officers in the
camp of the Assyrian king. So he withdrew to his own land in disgrace. And when he went into
the temple of his god, some of his sons cut him down with the sword.

So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of
Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them on every side. Many brought
offerings to Jerusalem for the LORD and valuable gifts for Hezekiah king of Judah. From then
on he was highly regarded by all the nations.

Brothers and sisters, I want you to carefully consider these examples so that you can
apply the lessons learned to your own lives. Look at the example of Ahaz: how did he respond
when faced with trouble? The Bible says that when he was attacked by Israel and Aram, Ahaz
sought help from Assyria. Then, when he discovered that Assyria only brought more trouble,
what did he do? He sacrificed to the gods of Aram! His heart led him further and further from
God, and further and further into destruction.
In contrast, we see the example of Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz. At the beginning of his
reign, Hezekiah repented of the sin of his father and led Israel in worshiping God. When he faced
the challenge of Assyria, Hezekiah prepared to fight, but his confidence and trust was entirely in
the Lord. Because his heart was right with God, he could confidently tell the Israelites that God
would save them. His faith was in God, not in his army or alliances with other countries.
God sent a word to Judah through the prophet Isaiah that I think perfectly explains the
lessons we learn from Ahaz and Hezekiah. In Isaiah 30, God counsels Judah to not rely on
anything besides Him. In verse 1, it says, “’Woe to the obstinate children,’ declares the LORD,
‘to those who carry out plans that are not mine, forming an alliance, but not by my Spirit,
heaping sin upon sin.” In verse 15, God gives the Israelites the formula for facing challenges: “In
repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.”
Let’s think about this for a little bit. God asks us first to repent and rest. Since this
prophesy was delivered during the same period as Ahaz and Hezekiah, we can use that context to
understand repentance and rest. Basically, repentance is what Hezekiah did and Ahaz didn’t do.
Repentance is being honest with ourselves, examining where we are wrong with God, and then
confessing our sin to Him. Rest is not sitting around doing nothing, but recognizing that our
salvation comes from God alone. Ahaz was always busy, running here and there trying some
scheme. Hezekiah did what was responsible, but he knew that God was the one that would save
him, not the strategies, fortifications, or weapons. Repentance and rest go together. When we
know that our heart is right before God, we can be like Hezekiah who encouraged the people of
Jerusalem not to be afraid or discouraged.
Quietness and trust were severely lacking in Ahaz’s time. Ahaz did not trust God. He
relied solely on his own understanding. God warned specifically against carrying out plans that
were not His. We cannot rely on our own human wisdom. Yes, God gives us rational minds to
analyze situations and draw conclusions. But when we become Christian, we must submit our
rational minds to God. Christians have the Holy Spirit inside us, telling us the mind of God.
1 Corinthians 1 and 2 tells us about this.

1 Corinthians 1:18-19, 25
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being
saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger
than man's strength.

1 Corinthians 2:12-14
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may
understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by
human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they
are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

We need to be quiet and listen to the Holy Spirit. We need to have faith and trust God.
You may say to me, “Oh, you don’t know my situation!” But I am simply telling you the words
of God. If you want God to help you in your challenge, you must repent and get yourself right
with God first, then you submit your rational mind to God, and you trust in Him only.

This theme shows up frequently throughout the Bible. Who has seen the movie Prince
Caspian? Who has read the book? In that book, C.S. Lewis uses this same theme. Prince Caspian
and the Narnians have been given a prophesy that they will be saved, but it has been a long time
since anyone in the land has seen or truly believed in Aslan. They are besieged by the powerful
Telemarine army and things seem to be going very poorly for them. Eventually, the black dwarf
Nikabrik introduces a plot to bring back the White Witch to help them.

Chapter 14 – Ancient Powers
1:25:30 – 1:31:30
Turn English subtitles on

“I am sorry for Nikabrik, though he hated me from the first moment he saw me. He had
gone sour inside from long suffering and hating. If we had won quickly he might have become a
good Dwarf in the days of peace.”