For those who may not be too spiritually attuned, pardon me. Today I have a pastoral message for our nation. Slightly over a month ago, on the eighth day of August, while on my regular personal Bible reading, I came to the story about Hezekiah king of Judah and Sennacherib king of Assyria. Hezekiah was an upright king who instituted bold reforms in the land. He got rid of idolatry and stamped out corruption.
But, in the fourteenth year of his reign, Sennacherib attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. Because Assyria had superior military might, king Hezekiah opted to buy peace and safety for his people from Sennacherib. Therefore, Hezekiah gave Sennacherib all the silver found in the temple of the LORD and in the treasuries of the royal palace. Whereas one would imagine that with this, Sennacherib would have left Hezekiah and the nation of Judah alone, he did not.
Emboldened by Hezekiah’s fear, Sennacherib returned to Judah with a new wave of threats and blasphemous mockery of God. He stirred up the people of Judah against their king, “Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’ Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand?
Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?” What audacity by this man!
Whereas it is true that Assyria had conquered all these kings, this affront to Hezekiah, his people, and their God was audacious. Hezekiah therefore sent a delegation to prophet Isaiah to seek spiritual guidance. After listening, Isaiah said to them, “Tell your master, ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard – those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Listen! I am going to put such a spirit in him that when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.”
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This word was sent to Sennacherib, but the man was unbowed.
After a while, Sennacherib again sent word to Hezekiah saying, “Do not let the God you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be handed over to the king of Assyria.’ Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered?”
Hezekiah turned to God in prayer. God told him, “I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.” And for sure, one day, while Sennacherib was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer cut him down with the sword.
As I read this story, God clearly told me that this was about Kenya. When the first case of Covid-19 was pronounced, the fear of its highly devastating impact was real. We had seen what it had done in other more developed nations and we knew we had little hope. Like Hezekiah, the President called for a National Day of Prayer. But Sennacherib jeered and mocked, insisting that we should stick with science, because in their view, no god could deliver us from the virus. Like Hezekiah, we also chose to buy our safety. We invested plenty of silver from our treasuries in measures to control the pandemic.
Compared to many other nations, the government has managed the situation in a most professional manner – especially considering that this was a pandemic from a novel virus. The only blight of course is the apparent theft or misuse of the Covid funds. It has marred the otherwise sterling job that our various teams have done.
Unfortunately, the voice of Sennacherib remains loud and threatening. The fear of a new wave of infections seems to be hanging over our heads. It is in this regard that I am convinced that the Lord now says to Kenya, “Do not be afraid! I will defend this nation and save it for my sake.”
Therefore, whereas we must not be careless nor test God, it is time to move from the place of fear to the place of faith. We must now get the nation back to normal. God is on our side and it is going to be fine. The LORD will deliver us.
- The writer is the Presiding Bishop at the Citam Church. [email protected]