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Prayer Defeats Fatalism (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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September 1, 2023 6:00 am

Prayer Defeats Fatalism (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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September 1, 2023 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the book of the Acts

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The Word of Yahweh came to Him saying, And now God catches him and says, I want you to go back.

Why? Because the man prayed. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of 2 Kings chapter 20 as he begins his message, Prayer Defeats Fatalism Fatalism in the Christian, of course, diminishes faith, causes one to question the goodness of God, the fairness of God, or the justice of God. The fatalists, by denying freedom, because, of course, if everything is predetermined, will your freedom really matter?

You become a puppet, not a person. The Bible does not teach fatalism, and we're going to see that not only from this section, but I'll cross-reference another. Fatalism, what it does is it smears the individual with pessimism.

Why bother? The dice has been rolled. The conclusion is fixed. What becomes of the pessimists? Well, 12 men were sent from that desert in Moab to spy out the promised land. Ten of them were pessimists.

The pessimists died in the desert of Moab. They always do. But the men of vision and purpose heroically lived on. Of course, I'm talking about Joshua and Caleb. Spies went into the land.

They were pessimists. There's no way we can do this. It's set. It doesn't matter what God said.

This is a done deal. This evening, we have a story of a good king who was a good man, and yet he's terminally ill. That's the diagnosis from God through the prophet Isaiah. He lived most of his life under the shadow of death through the Assyrians. And because of that, he did fortify Jerusalem, and he sought God passionately. I think he sought God passionately even if the threat wasn't there, but it certainly motivated him to seek the Lord. And even though he lived in these dark days, he remained good and productive through those bad years.

He was not a fatalist. And that's what the Bible gives to us. It teaches us how to live life. It reminds us how to live life once it's taught us. And so the stories overlap and approach the same thing, different perspectives. You could lose sight of those perspectives because if you become a fatalist, why bother with my devotions? Things aren't going well. They're not serving me well.

I thought I'd learn the Bible and life would be better and I'd be happier. Judah, over which Hezekiah is king, I believe was invaded twice by the Assyrians, two major invasions. The first one, eight years or so after the northern tribes had fallen to the Assyrians. It's very difficult to chart the reign of the kings and a lot of the chronology because, for instance, the reigns of the kings were often overlapped. They co-reigned, the co-regencies. Manasseh was likely king along with his father for some period of time. And often it's omitted and you have to just look at events.

And so it's very tricky and I don't want to spend too much time on that. But I do believe there were two invasions. If there was one, the events still are rich with information to guide us as a lamp to our feet, which God's word is supposed to be. Hezekiah once stopped paying tribute money to the Assyrians. That didn't go well. They came against him and he submitted in shame. The second time, though, he doubles down. They come to invade. This, what we're considering this evening, his sickness happens between the two invasions. They come, they go, they'll be back.

He knows that. He gets sick towards their return. At that second return of the Assyrian army, God will wipe them out. But right before they come, or in the midst of it at the very least, he gets sick. And then he is cured. And the Babylonian envoys come and they just, you know, hey, we're glad you're doing better. That provokes Syria.

They're saying, hey, you know, there's collusion going on between the two against us, a conspiracy to resist, and so things get ugly again. He gets through the sickness, gets 15 years added to his life by God. By the time the Babylonians come to visit him, he's got 14 left.

He's not about to spend them in captivity. And he knows God's promise, because Isaiah told him that they would be, the city would be delivered, that he would be delivered. Get that in verse 6. And he believed these promises that God gave to him, even in the midst of his illness as the prophet is ministering to him.

He's not shut down. He gets loaded with pride. God would deal with that too. Let me just take it from 2 Chronicles chapter 32, and I'll repeat this later. However, regarding the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, those envoys that had come down to wish him well after he was cured, because word got out. He's terminal, and then all of a sudden word gets out.

He's cured. He continues there, whom they sent to him to inquire about the wonder that was done in the land. Well, in context where that is in Chronicles, that's connected to his healing. And then it says God withdrew from him in order to test him, that he might know all that was in his heart, that Hezekiah would know, because God already knows.

So he's put through another test. Pride enters his heart. That's connected to these Babylonians coming here. Let me show you everything we have in the palace. He was just loaded with pride, and it became a problem. So we'll begin there. Verse 1, In those days Hezekiah was sick near death, and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, went to him and said to him, Thus says Yahweh, Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.

Quite blunt, I would say. Isaiah the prophet was his pastor and his friend and his mentor. He was older.

He had been around a long time. Hezekiah always respected the rank of Isaiah as the prophet. He said to him, Thus says the Lord, Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live. And Hezekiah was devastated by this. He didn't take it well. We expect, Christian, we expect too much sometimes from each other and sometimes too little.

Hezekiah, again, he took it hard. And in print, the bedside manner of Isaiah doesn't seem to be that good. But, you know, we don't know. He could have been weeping when he told him for all we know. We don't want to gang up on the prophet. This is the story.

These are the facts. He became sole king or the sole ruler of Judah when he was 25 years old. As I mentioned, he may have been co-regent with Ahaz, his father. And now he is about 39, 40 years old. He's going to be granted 15 years.

He dies when he's 54, 55 years old. We get some more of this in verse 6. Verse 2, Then he turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to Yahweh, saying, Now before we get to the prayer, he turns his face to the wall so no one can see his agony, his breakdown, that he's devastated.

He can't hide this. He's not bitter, but he is emotionally burdened, that is for sure. He's probably sobbing between the words. Verse 3, and this is his prayer, Remember now, O Yahweh, I pray, how I have walked before you in truth with a loyal heart and have done what was good in your sight, and Hezekiah wept bitterly, uncontrollably.

No man wants to cry like this. This is the prayer of a righteous but very sick man. And he didn't, it's not that he did something to deserve this. He is a righteous king. He's got some pride issues that God will work through with him. But you know, Satan comes along and says, you know, if you have something, you get really sick, you've done something, you're getting judged. Well, he's the accuser of the brethren.

Be ready for that. Hezekiah never bowed down. There's no record of him bowing down to false gods. He remained true to Yahweh. He loved King David. Nehemiah loved King Hezekiah, and we'll come to that in a moment, at least that's my take on it.

He's not boasting here. It's the voice of a clear conscience relative to other evils. In other words, he knew, Lord, I've been serving you. Yahweh, I'm not perfect, but you know I've been serving you. Nehemiah writes no less than four times a similar thing telling God about his righteousness. Nehemiah 5, 19, 13, 14, 22, and 31.

I'll just take Nehemiah 13, 14. He says, remember me, O my God, concerning this, and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God and for its services. And so he's just telling it like it is. He's not boasting, I'm such a good servant. He says, Lord, please remember me.

I've tried so hard to serve you. We would understand it in a language like that. Man is never so depraved that he can't respond to God. Otherwise, people can blame God for being in hell.

Yeah, I went to hell because I didn't have a chance. I don't believe that's in the Bible. I don't believe anything in the Bible says you are so bad you can't even say yes or no. Otherwise, God could not say, come, let us reason. He does say to the sinner in that verse in Isaiah chapter 1, though your sins are crimson red, come, let's reason so they could be white as snow. That's what I believe.

And I love it. That was my first impression at salvation, that God can interact with man. He can forgive and love. I was so happy when I got saved, I was giggling and weeping at the same time. I didn't know what to do. To realize that the Bible was true, that Jesus is real, and I've never let theology take that away from me.

Hezekiah wept bitterly. He's not ready to die, a righteous man. We would think that, you know, it's one good commendation. You know, we can all be wrong, you know, when we speak about the Bible.

It's such a deep, heavy book. One good one, and on this point I disagree with him. He's long gone anyway, in heaven no doubt. But he says, well, you know, the ancients didn't really have a good knowledge of heaven.

That's not true. David says, surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. No one will pluck me out of his hand. Verse 4, and it happened before Isaiah had gone out into the middle of the court that the word of Yahweh came to him saying, Return and tell Hezekiah, the leader of my people. Thus says Yahweh, the God of David, your father. I have heard your prayer. I have seen your tears. Surely I will heal you on the third day. You shall go up to the house of Yahweh.

This is so magnificent. Could you imagine Isaiah getting this information? He had just told the man, you're going to die. And now God catches him and says, I want you to go back. Why?

Because the man prayed. It's not fatalism, isn't it? Sorry, it's set. It's your time, your numbers up. Don't even bother asking. You're done. That's not what happened.

The prophet did not get very far before God spoke to him and revised his judgment on the king. Life is not fatalistic. It can appear to be so, but it doesn't have to be so.

Some things are set. We don't know those things. Hezekiah didn't give in to that. This is similar to Nathan being sent back to God about the building of, you remember, David said, look, I want to just build God a house. No more tent over the Ark of the Covenant. And Nathan said, man, I love it, David.

Go for it. God's with you. And then Nathan goes going. God says, excuse me, I did not say that. You said that.

You need to go back to David and tell him that's not how it's going to work out. But Isaiah, he's not mistaken. When he said you're going to die, that was the truth. God didn't say, no, no, that's not so.

We clearly told it. This was the message that God gave to Isaiah to tell Hezekiah he would die. And so there is a big difference. Isaiah is sent both times, and he's right both times, even though they don't agree.

Because there's an adjustment. There is the perfect will of God, there is the permissive will of God, and there is the adjusted will of God. Jeremiah, chapter 18, and the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom to build and to plant, if it does evil in my sight so that it does not obey my voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it. That statement is of first-class importance for understanding all prophecy.

It removes entirely the realm of fatalism from God. There God said through Jeremiah, if I say to a nation, you follow me, I'm going to bless you. And this is going to happen, and that's going to happen. And then you depart from me. God says, well, I'm going to withdraw the blessing.

It's not automatic. You have your role, I have mine. And this is what we're seeing in the life of Hezekiah. Now maybe your theology doesn't like that because you've been told these things aren't like this way. Well, that's not what your Bible is saying. You've got to learn to listen to what the Bible is saying. And clearly, without a doubt, this man was told by God he was going to die of this illness. Then God adjusts his message to this man and saves his life, gives him 15 more years. Life is not fatalistic.

When you get to that place, what's the point? I've prayed and prayed for years. Someone just told me Sunday morning, their child and the wife gave their life to Christ, and I said, because I knew the answer was going to be good. How long have you been praying for them?

The answer was 35 years. A fatalist would have given up a long time ago. It irks me. It does irk me when people walk around and tell me that God is hard. They don't say it that way, but their doctrine is, thus says Yahweh, the God of David your father.

You know that's registering with Hezekiah because he knows David. Here's a man that loved God and messed up really big, should have been executed for his sin, and God spared him, because God can. All of us should be executed for our sin, and God spares us, and we love him so much for it. Every Christian knows. You only have to hear it one time. I will cast your sins as far as East is from West.

You only have to hear that one time, and you got it. Seven things are contained in this second message to the weeping king. God's sovereignty clearly stated in this answer. God is in control. He's not, you know, when he allows things to unroll this way, he's teaching us about him. He doesn't have to say from the cross, forgive them, for they know not what they do. He could just secretly, you know, know there's this way it's going to be. But no, he verbalizes it.

He publishes it because he wants us to know. That whole drama with the thief on the cross. This man has done nothing.

We're outlaws. We deserve this crucifixion. He has done nothing. He is the sinless one. God wants it heard.

The seven things contained in this second message to the weeping king. I have heard your prayer. God hears all prayers. He hears all grumblings, every idle word, but he also hears every spiritual word. Even though, you know, some of those kooky Christians, they love the Lord, but they just, for their entire life, they're going to be a little bit off to the left.

God loves them just as much, and he hears their prayers, even though they offer these wacko prayers. You know what? That's just kooky. But God understands, and I got to be careful. Now, I'm not talking wrong things, you know. There are things a person can pray are just flat out not right. I have seen your tears. God is fully acquainted with our grief. Moses talked about our tears being bottled up and put in a bottle. You know, God retains these things. Because when you're suffering over a long period of time, you think God has no compassion. Have you ever said this to God? The apostles did.

I have. Master, don't you care that we perish? Christ is sleeping on a storm-tossed boat, and they ask him that question. Don't you care? I'm sure there wasn't a common collected theological, Master, do you not care?

I don't think it was that way at all. Don't you care? Come on. I will heal you. Only God heals. There's no such thing as healing without God. Because he doesn't have to approve it. Now, certainly in creation, there are just laws.

You know, the body can fight off a lot of things and recover. Still, God has to honor that. That's part of his sovereignty.

God heals. I have no doubt about that. And in his sovereignty, he controls.

So let me, maybe if I put it this way. No sickness is out of God's control. No health is out of his control. There is nothing on earth that is out of God's control with the exception of man's will.

And not entirely. As Jonah, one of God's men, chose to run from God. And God said, fine, I'm going to impress upon you a better choice. Jonah figured it out. I wonder if there was another prophet before Jonah who didn't repent.

And did stay in the ocean. I don't know. This is an interesting thought. Anyway, God in his sovereignty. And that sovereignty never moves without love. God is love.

It is fixed. It's not like, well, you know, he's also loving. God is love. And you lose sight of that if you're not being healed or someone you love is not being healed. And God wants us to think beyond what we're looking at. Remember, Hezekiah is going to die in 15 years after the blessing comes.

So this healing is, of course, temporary, but let me get ahead of myself. You shall go up to the house of the Lord. You will worship amongst witnesses. You will worship with the healthy. You will worship.

That's the part that comes out. He's not going to be healed and stay, you know, away from God's house. He's going to go to God's house. That's what He's longing to do. That He could go to God's house.

I will add to your days 15 years. Well, again, all healing in this life is temporary. Elisha became sick and he died.

We all go through that with the exception so far of two known men. I will deliver you and this city. It won't be a coincidence, God is saying, when I rescue the city from the Assyrians, you'll know it's me because, you know, the old parable, a man is on a roof working and he slips and he's sliding off the roof and he's screaming for God to help him and a nail snags his coverall overall and he says, oh, oh, never mind, God, the nail got me. You see, that's the guy that doesn't understand prayer and the sovereignty of God and that the coincidence is not like that. Yeah, that can be a coincidence, you know, you toss a balled up piece of paper behind your back and it goes right into the trash can.

You know, that kind of stuff. Don't tell me God directed that into the trash can. Maybe with a hand grenade, but not there. Anyway, I will defend the city. This is fulfilled. God, when this is not a coincidence, he's going to do it, it's not going to be anybody else. So Hezekiah asked for a reversal of a divine decision and he got it. Prayer defeats fatalism, life is not fatalistic.

I get that from this. I can pray to God in heaven, even if I pray to God in heaven and all of a sudden I'm right there with Him. I mean, that's the story of David Livingston. They found him on his knees, dead. One minute he's talking to God, the next minute he's talking to God.

I mean, who doesn't want to go that way? And David Livingston was a remarkable man, sleeping up in the trees, hoping that the lions wouldn't eat him at night, he could hear them out there. All because he was determined to take the gospel. Thanks for joining us for today's edition on Cross Reference Radio. This is the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia.

We trust that what you've heard today in the book of 2 Kings has been something to remember. If you'd like to listen to more teachings from this series, go to CrossReferenceRadio.com. Once more, that's CrossReferenceRadio.com. We encourage you to subscribe to our podcast too, so you'll never miss another edition. Just go to your favorite podcast app to subscribe. Our time is about up, but we hope you'll tune in again next time as we continue on in the book of 2 Kings. We look forward to that time with you, so make a note in your calendar to join Pastor Rick as he teaches from the Bible right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-01 06:35:40 / 2023-09-01 06:45:23 / 10

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