Gary W. Ritter
(Isaiah 37-38; Philippians 3)
For those who think they plot and perform their evil in secret, I have news for them. God sees it all. They believe that their ways are higher than God’s – can you imagine? From time immemorial, man has chosen his own way of living and decided he has no accountability to the God of creation. If such people believe in a creator God, they may consider Him as was once portrayed like the old watchmaker. He made the watch, wound it up, then set it to running without any further involvement in its operation. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Those who live in this delusion at some point learn how wrong they are!
We find an example of this when the king of Assyria besieged Jerusalem. This pagan nation – one of the fiercest and most feared throughout history – had already destroyed the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC. Now it was coming against Hezekiah and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. If Hezekiah had been like all the apostate rulers of Israel in the north, Judah would likely have fallen at this time. However, Hezekiah was one of a handful of kings who worshiped Yahweh and honored Him. That made all the difference in the world.
The Assyrian king, Sennacherib, sent his chief military commander, identified as the Rabshakeh, to mock Hezekiah and his trust in Yahweh. It’s easy to understand how the Assyrians might think Hezekiah’s God was no different from any other. All the peoples whom Assyria invaded and destroyed had their own gods that proved worthless. Even Israel’s Northern Kingdom, in Assyria’s eyes, presumably followed the same God as Judah. Of course, that wasn’t actually the case. Israel had long ago fallen deeply into apostasy and had no use for Yahweh. This was the fatal error that Sennacherib made in attacking Judah.
After the Rabshakeh delivered his message of scorn against the God of Israel, and Hezekiah appealed to Him for mercy for His people, Yahweh answered through the prophet Isaiah. What He said is worth the price of admission. It’s marvelous and classic.
Isaiah reported back to Hezekiah God’s own Words, in which He directly addressed the king of Assyria. First, look at Isaiah 37:23-24:
“‘Whom have you mocked and reviled?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes to the heights?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
By your servants you have mocked the Lord… “
Yahweh says to this heathen king, “You’ve ridiculed the wrong God.” Indeed he has.
The Holy One of Israel goes on in Isaiah 37:26:
“‘Have you not heard
that I determined it long ago?
I planned from days of old
what now I bring to pass,
that you should make fortified cities
crash into heaps of ruins…”
Sennacherib thought that his idea to invade Judah and besiege Jerusalem was something he’d conceived on his own and was part of his brilliant strategy of conquest. This is why God laughs at the nations (Psalm 2). They think they are separate from God and not under His supervision. He may not be their territorial god, per se, as their own gods were, like Nisroch was in Assyria’s case (Isaiah 37:38), but Yahweh was and is sovereign and above every one of these pretender gods. This foolish king of Assyria, who thought he could take down a nation protected by Yahweh, was only following the plan that He already had foreseen and thus could thwart.
In fact, God is like that proverbial fly on the wall in the king’s chambers as Isaiah 37:28 says:
“‘I know your sitting down
and your going out and coming in,
and your raging against me.”
Nothing that Assyria considered through its various hostilities was a secret from the Lord. Not one thought or plan the king and his advisors made was hidden from Him.
As a result, so as to keep Judah safe, Yahweh declared about Sennacherib in Isaiah 37:29:
“Because you have raged against me
and your complacency has come to my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
and I will turn you back on the way
by which you came.’”
This came to pass. God caused the Assyrian king to pull away from Judah. Yahweh distracted him and caused the angel of the Lord to suddenly kill 185,000 of his troops overnight in a devastating blow. God’s Word came true.
What can we take away from this today so many years removed? God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He sees and knows every scheme of the enemy. What we’re experiencing in these current, latter days is no surprise to God. In His foreknowledge, He saw long ago what the evil cabal of globalist elites determined to do to rule the world. He conveyed the enemy’s plans through the prophets and gave them to us in His written Word. We already know the end because God has shown it to us.
Will things in the world get worse and worse? Will people be deceived? Will depravity rule the hearts of man? Will there be wars and rumors of war? Will there be natural disasters like at no other time in history? Will all these signs converge near the end of days? Absolutely!
Should anything going on around us be a surprise if we diligently read God’s Word and believe what it says? Of course not. But, that’s a problem, isn’t it? How many in the church actually know the Word of God and believe it?
I came across a passage in a book recently that I loved because of its implications. Here it is:
But equally amazing was that, when it came, the future the prophets foresaw (and here I have in mind the NT) actually followed the plan the prophets had laid out for it. When the future came at a specific time and place, there were people waiting for it. There were those, like Simeon and Anna, who understood it in terms of the OT prophetic vision. In other words, the prophet’s vision was such that it preserved and carried with it a people who both understood the prophets and were there waiting for the fulfillment of their vision. By falling in line with that vision, the NT writers show that they accepted the OT not only as pre-interpreted, but they also were in fundamental agreement with its interpretation. That interpretation, we can see, began long before the time of its fulfillment. (The Messiah And The Hebrew Bible — By: John H. Sailhamer)
This author is saying that in the prophetic future that God foresaw, He also prepared certain people to understand what was coming and to be ready to act upon that knowledge.
How is this relevant? Who is it that looks for a literal fulfillment of both the coming Tribulation and the sooner coming of Jesus in the clouds to snatch away true believers prior to those awful days? It is we whom God has prepared through our belief that the notion of a pre-Tribulation Rapture is the truth. I believe that God has given us a greater understanding of what is to come – that He already spoke of in His Word – than those who do not embrace a pre-Trib Rapture view.
Because of this, we have the means to perhaps endure the blows coming against us with greater fortitude than those who don’t accept this truth. We grieve at the lawlessness and the atrocities we witness, yet we know that before these things rise to an unimaginable level, the Lord will remove us to the shelter of His house in heaven.
Just like God told Hezekiah not to worry, that He would take care of His people, so we have God’s Word that He will take care of us today. In the meantime, we need to obediently do what we’re supposed to so as to accomplish our final tasks.
We need not fret and be anxious. All this that is going on around us is in the sovereign plan of God. He’s got everything under control, and we can rest in peace because of this. Just as God moved and delivered Jerusalem from destruction from the huge Assyrian army, so He will move and deliver us from the terrible things to come by removing us from the earth before they occur.
Let’s trust God that He knows what He’s doing. How much easier will it be to get through these dark days knowing that He’s coming for us very soon?
[Author Note: Briefly, I want to set the stage for you as to the nature of most of my articles in this season. Each year I read the Bible through completely at least once – that has been my practice since I came to the Lord in 2005. I remain astounded at what God has done in my life because of that discipline! Each day I read from both the Old and New Testaments. I choose a verse from one of those passages and write my commentary and reflection based on that. In the title of my article, you’ll see the verse I chose. In addition, you’ll see the reading for that day if you’d like to follow along with greater context.]
Gary W. Ritter is a lay pastor, Bible teacher, and prolific author. His Whirlwind Series comprises three books: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind, and There Is A Time. These books are contained in the collected volume of the Whirlwind Omnibus. Gary has been given the Christian Redemptive Fiction award for three novels: The Tattooed Cat, Alien Revelation, and for his collaboration with Terry James in writing The Minion Protocols, the third book in James’ Second Coming Chronicles. Earlier this year Gary released a four-volume set of Awaken Bible Study Notes that comment verse-by-verse through Scripture from a Biblical prophetic lens. He is currently editing a sequel to Alien Revelation called Alien Zombie Plague, which he plans to release later in the fall of 2021. Recently, Gary wrote a novella for the new Kindle Vella platform. That story is called Tribulation Rising: Seal Judgments – The Coming Apocalypse. This seven-part short work can be found at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099Z462WD. Each day this year Gary has been writing commentary and reflections based on his reading through the Bible in a year. The intent in all his writings is to bring a strong Christian witness to what people read. You can see all his books and blog articles and reach him at his website: www.GaryRitter.com or his Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/gritter3390. You can also see his older video Bible teachings on his Gary Ritter YouTube channel – look for the fish symbol, and more recently on Rumble on his Awaken Bible Prophecy channel: https://rumble.com/c/c-783217.