Rev. Slopsema is pastor of First Protestant Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and then eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern:

Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil olive and of honey, that ye may live, and not die: and hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuadeth you, saying, The Lord will deliver us.

II Kings 18:31, 32

When Hezekiah assumed the throne of Judah, he refused to pay tribute to Assyria as his father had done. This was a great act of faith. This also brought the Assyrian army from the north to besiege Jerusalem.

Rabshakeh, the spokesman for the Assyrian army, appealed to the men of Judah gathered on the walls of Jerusalem. To resist Assyria was useless. If they would surrender, they would be treated well and be given another land as good as Canaan. In obedience to Jehovah, the citizens of Jerusalem refused this offer. God rewarded their faithfulness by slaying the Assyrian army and delivering Jerusalem from its threat.

This incident in Judah’s history is very important. The “deal” that Assyria proposed to Judah is the same “deal” that the powers of darkness have proposed to the church throughout the ages. You are hopelessly outnumbered. Give up your inheritance and we will reward you sufficiently. We must, with Judah, stand fast. And placing our trust in Jehovah we too will overcome.

It was a tempting offer that Assyria proposed.

Judah was advised to surrender to Assyria. This would bring an immediate end to the siege of Jerusalem. The people could return to their homes and farms temporarily. Then they would be transplanted to another country, as lush as Canaan. What made this such a tempting offer was the alternative. The only alternative was to die by the sword. Assyria made this very clear. Rabshakeh, the spokesman for Assyria, reminded the citizens of Jerusalem how Assyria had swept down from the north and had overcome all the nations that stood in their path. They had even brought the ten tribes of Israel into captivity. None of the gods of these nations were able to deliver them from the mighty hand of Assyria. Nor would Jehovah be able to deliver Judah from their hand. Do not listen to Hezekiah, who urges you to trust Jehovah. If you will live, you must surrender now. And if you surrender we will give you another land as good as Canaan.

There was only one problem with this “generous” offer. Canaan was the land of promise that God had given Israel as an inheritance. As such, it was a picture of the heavenly Canaan. For that reason, God had forbidden them to leave the land. They would find God’s blessings only in Canaan, around the temple on Mt. Zion. To accept Assyria’s offer would be to forfeit their inheritance, both their earthly and their heavenly inheritance.

The world has made this offer to the church repeatedly. Give up the land of promise that God has reserved for you as an inheritance in Jesus Christ. We will more than compensate you for it. If you do not accept our offer, you will die.

This is the way the world confronts the church today. The world constantly pressures us to sacrifice our Christian principles and faith. These compromises would lead us away from Jesus Christ and eventually result in the loss of our inheritance. To compel us to give up our eternal inheritance the world promises to reward us handsomely, and threatens to make us suffer if we do not comply.

This is happening to the Christian worker. He is being pressured to work on the Sabbath day in violation of the fourth commandment. This would eventually bring disaster to one’s faith and his relationship to God. As an enticement, the world promises great rewards of advancement and good living. It also threatens with unemployment and poverty those who will not agree.

Young people are being pressured to conform to the world’s goals, life-style, and values. This pressure is exerted especially in the secular universities of our land. To give in to this pressure would be to lose one’s inheritance. But the world has many wonderful things to give to the young person that is willing to do so.

The church also faces the same pressure. Conform to the world in its teachings and practices. Teach the innate goodness of mankind. Endorse homosexuality and divorce. Embrace evolution. Many churches have done this and lost their inheritance. In exchange they have been embraced by the world and are recognized with approval.

What are you doing with the world’s offers?

Judah refused the offer of Assyria.

Both Hezekiah and the people stood together in this rejection. The people on the walls held their peace and did not answer Rabshakeh, as he waxed eloquent with Assyria’s offer. You might have expected questions concerning the nature of the land into which Judah would be transplanted, or assurances that this would, in fact, happen. This would have indicated that Judah was giving serious consideration to Assyria’s proposal. But the people held their peace. They did not even entertain this wretched offer. The people were following Hezekiah’s leadership. Anticipating Assyria’s offer, Hezekiah had charged the people not to answer Assyria, and thus show their rejection.

There are two things that explain this firm rejection.

First, Judah saw that to take up the offer of Assyria was to sacrifice something greater for something lesser. Assyria had much to offer. She offered Judah her life and a good land elsewhere. From a purely human, earthly point of view, this looked like about the best deal a nation could make under the circumstances. But Judah had the eyes of faith. By faith she saw that the riches of God’s blessings in Canaan were much greater that any pleasures she could find in another land given to her by Assyria. In fact, the riches of God’s blessings in Canaan were too much to give up.

Secondly, Judah trusted that Jehovah could and would deliver her. Assyria assumed that Jehovah was just one god among many, and that Jehovah could be overcome as had the gods of the other conquered nations. But Judah had faith. And by faith she knew that Jehovah is God alone. And this Jehovah, who was her covenant God, would certainly preserve and defend Judah, if she in faithfulness refused Assyria’s offer.

In that same faith we must also reject every offer the world presents.

The same two truths to which Judah clung by faith are also valid today.

There is nothing the world can offer us that can even begin to compensate for the loss of our eternal inheritance. Will riches and pleasures be adequate compensation? Will power and influence? What about recognition and acceptance? What about your very life? None of these is worth the loss of your eternal inheritance. The world wants us to give up that which is everything for that which is really nothing. What are you profited should you gain the whole world and in the process lose your soul in hell?

Besides, we are safe in the care of Jehovah. No matter how the world threatens, they can neither overcome nor destroy us. Jehovah God will preserve His church as she walks faithfully in the world.

This we know by faith. And when we walk by faith, we make the same refusal that Judah did.

The trust that Judah placed in Jehovah was well founded.

Judah trusted Jehovah to preserve her against the Assyrian hordes. And preserve Judah Jehovah did. That night Jehovah sent the angel of death into the camp of Assyria to slay 185,000 soldiers. What a staggering number. Never in modern warfare have we seen so many killed in so short a time. This was the deathblow to Assyria. She withdrew from Jerusalem, never to return. Judah trusted in Jehovah to deliver her out of the hand of her enemy and preserve her in the land of promise. And He did!

So also is our trust in Jehovah well founded.

The world will perish, even as the Assyrian army did. They will perish in the day of Jesus Christ. And perishing with the world will be all those who forsook the inheritance of God to receive the promised blessings of the world.

But those who by faith refuse the offers of this world will be preserved by God. They will not be overcome in this life, but enjoy the blessings of God on their earthly pilgrimage. And at life’s end they will inherit the heavenly Canaan, there to live with and enjoy Jehovah God forever.