The Controversy Continues

Scripture: Nehemiah 2:18, 1 Samuel 17:43-51, 1 Kings 18:21-39
Date: 01/30/2016 
Lesson: 5
"How can we learn, even amid the most discouraging and seemingly impossible situations, to trust in the Lord?"
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Good morning, friends. Welcome, again, to Sabbath School Study Hour. A very warm welcome to our friends joining us across the country and around the world for this in-depth Bible study. Also, I'd like to welcome those here in the Granite Bay church - our regular members as well as those who are visiting with us today - a very warm welcome to all of you. We've been studying through our lesson quarterly dealing with the subject of rebellion and redemption.

Today we find ourselves on lesson #5 entitled the controversy continues. Now, for those who are watching, if you don't have a copy of today's lesson, you can download it at the Amazing Facts website - just - lesson # 5 - and you can study along with us. We also have a free offer that we'd like to let you know - a book called the armor of God - and we're happy to send this book out to anybody in North America who gives us a call. The number is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #173. Again, the phone number is 866-788-3966.

Ask for offer #173 - the book entitled the armor of God - and we'll be happy to send that to anybody, as mentioned, in north America. If you're outside of north America, you can still read the book for free online at the Amazing Facts website - just Our lesson today will be brought to us by dr. David derose. Well, it's good to be with each one of you this morning and good to have all our folks from around the world joining us as well, as we continue our study on, really, what has been called the Great Controversy.

We're on lesson #5 and lesson #5 is actually, appropriately entitled - to go along with that theme - the controversy continues. You know, I couldn't help, as I was reading the very first part of the lesson, for something to catch my eye, because it's speaking here about a number of individuals in biblical history that we're going to be looking at. Let me just read the very first few words of the lesson. It says, 'when we compare the lives of David, Elijah, hezekiah, Esther and Nehemiah, similar themes surface. God is able to use insignificant people to turn back the tide of evil.

Now I just had to stop right there, as I was reading, because that one word caught my eye - insignificant - and I looked at the list: David, Elijah, hezekiah, Esther, Nehemiah - do you realize who we're talking about? I mean, we're talking about Kings. We're talking about queens. We're talking about people that were at the right hand, as in the case of Nehemiah, of the leading world power leader. How could these be insignificant people? Well, I thought about it a little bit more. From the standpoint of the Great Controversy, when we look at the battle, where it really is being waged, it began, as we began this quarter together, it began where? Where did the battle begin? That's right, it began in heaven.

And so we're talking about a heavenly battle and, in a very real sense, every one of us - as people - as finite mortals - are quite insignificant, aren't we? At least on a certain level - but on another level, as we read through lessons like this, we see that every person - every single individual has a role to play in this Great Controversy. So let's just frame the context before we dive into some of these stories. What is the controversy over? Okay, you say, 'well, you know, the quarterly is not just about the Great Controversy, it's about rebellion and redemption.' But the real controversy and the real basis of the rebellion has sometimes been summarized in a simple question, and it's this: can God be trusted? Or we might say, 'is God trustworthy?' And really, as we read through each of these stories, this question comes up. And so, let's look at Sunday's lesson together, because in Sunday's lesson, we are introduced to one of the leading figures of the Bible. We'd say, from a biblical standpoint, or from a historical standpoint, there is no question of the significance of David.

In fact, some of you may realize that historically, the very existence of David had been questioned for many decades and centuries by, what you might call, secular scholars of the middle east. But some years ago, an inscription was found talking about the house of David and this caused everyone to have to pause, who didn't believe in the biblical chronology, because it was some time after the time of David - was basically not only saying did David exist, but David was the beginning of a dynasty and so an inscription speaking of the house of David speaks to the prominence of this individual, who we only have real - really relatively little time to look at some high points or low points, depending on your perspective, in his life. Turn with me first to 1 Samuel chapter 17 - 1 Samuel chapter 17 - we're going to pick up the context as we look at this story. It's, perhaps, one of the Bible's most famous stories. Even people who have never studied the Bible know the story of David and - Goliath.

Goliath, that's right. Samuel chapter 17 - the context is that, at this time in biblical history, God's people are actually in - in battle, in war, with the philistines. And it says in chapter 17 of 1 Samuel verse 1, "now the philistines gathered their armies together to battle, and were gathered at sochcoh, which belongs to judah;" and so these two armies are facing each other, and it says in verse 4 "and a champion went out from the camp of the philistines, named Goliath from gath whose height was six cubits and a span." Now I think it was not long ago that Pastor Doug was giving us a little perspective on biblical measurement. There are some challenges because those biblical measurements were often tied to the anatomy of the ruling king. But a cubit was roughly about a foot and a half.

So Goliath is standing over nine feet tall - he's a towering giant. You know the story, as he defies the armies of Israel and, by extension, the God of Israel. We come down to verse 33 - David has come to the battle lines. He didn't come to see a fight. He came to bring a gift to care for his brothers - some of his older brothers who were there with the army.

And David starts inquiring, 'who is this gentile? Who is this heathen who is casting disreproach on the God of heaven?' David is saying, in response to our quarterly, that God could be trusted. God needs to be treated with respect. He is a real God - he's a living God. And so the word that David is concerned about God's name and God's honor, comes to Saul the King. Verse 31 - 1 Samuel 17, "now when the words which David spoke were heard, they reported them to Saul; and he sent for him.

Then David said to Saul, 'let no man's heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this philistine.'" Now why don't you just stop for a minute? We all know the story. But if you were there at the time, you see this young kid - this little guy, relatively speaking, who is wanting to go into battle with this giant and what are you thinking? Yeah, you're thinking this is crazy. There is no way. Why is David willing to go? Let's keep reading on. We catch a picture here - because Saul says just what anyone would say from a human perspective.

He says to David, "you are not able to go against this philistine to fight with him; for you are a youth, and he a man of war from his youth." 'You've got no chance, David.' Now let's just stop right here. Supposedly the focus of this lesson is on what kind of people? Insignificant people. Now I don't know how you feel today - some of you may feel significant. Hopefully you don't feel too significant. You know what the Bible says, 'let him or her who thinks that he or she stands, take heed lest' - what? They fall.

Yes, lest they fall. So we don't want to have inflated ideas of ourselves. On a certain level, all of us are insignificant, aren't we? But we're reading about someone who, in the context of this story, David not only looks insignificant from an objective standpoint, but the people in power say he's insignificant. Now I just have to stop here because there's a good chance in this very congregation, that some of you, as you've been hearing the invitations to share your talents here at granite bay, you're saying, 'well, why should I say that I have this vision to help in this way in this church?' And, by the way, those of you joining us, whether it's by live stream or by delayed broadcast, you may be thinking the same thing - 'I'm just in my home watching this broadcast. What do I have to offer in my community?' Well, the point is, we all have the same opportunity that David had.

If we see, in our experience, that God can be trusted - that God is trustworthy - the world is in great need of people who will do just what David said. Even though God's name is being cast down, I am willing to stand up and do what I can. Amen. Saul says to David, 'you can't do it.' You may have been told that you can't do it. You can't preach.

You can't study the Bible - I'll tell you, one of the favorite people that I met in my life some years ago - I've been a member of many churches over the years and I remember one fellow, we'll call him bill - bill, actually - if you were to look at bill you'd say 'he is an insignificant person. He can't do anything for the cause of God.' I mean, the guy, he had what we call agoraphobia - he was afraid of groups of people. So he actually did come to church, but he would only come to church after things were well under way. He'd slip in the back. And then what do you think he did before the service was over? He'd slip out.

You'd say, 'how can this guy do anything?' But bill just had this burden to share the good news about Jesus. And one day, he called me up and he said, 'would you come with me and help me give Bible studies?' Because he was not real confident of his abilities. Maybe he should have been more confident, but it's actually good that we're not very confident of our abilities. I didn't tell him, well, yes, I can do everything and I'll just come and everything'll be fine because I'll be there.' No, that wasn't my attitude at all. I was going there to support bill and he started taking me to several friends and neighbors and we were studying the Bible together.

Why? Because he had a burden to share what he had. People would have looked at him and said, 'you don't have anything to share. But he said, 'I am going to go - not in my own power', but in whose power? Let's read on in 1 Samuel chapter 17 because we want to see how David responded, because I think there's a lesson for each of us in David's response. The word is 'David you're impotent. David, you can't do anything.

' And here's what David says - verse 34 of 1 Samuel 17 - "but David said to Saul, 'your servant used to keep his father's sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went out after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth; and when it arose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it. Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.' Moreover David said, 'the Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, he will deliver me from the hand of this philistine.'" Who was watching when David went to battle with Goliath? Who was watching? Yes, God was watching, but so was everyone else. I mean, the entire philistine army and the entire Israelite army were there lined up. I mean, he was on public display. This was national news.

This was world news. This was live coverage by every major network, if we want to put it in the vernacular. It was not happening in some quiet corner. But let's pause. Where was it that David killed the lion and the bear? Who was watching? Only God and a bunch of sheep, really.

You remember when Samuel came, he was on a mission. You remember this? He's coming to anoint the next king of Israel, he comes to jesse's family - remember, jesse is David's father - and where do jesse and the brothers have David? He's not even at the feast. He's not even invited. He's out there with the sheep. He's in an insignificant place.

But what does David do in his insignificant place? He is faithful to God in the place that God has placed him. And his faithfulness in that insignificant place, prepares him to do what? To be God's champion when the spotlight is on him. And I think the message is so powerful for us today because we look at many of these lives in this lesson - we're going to look next at Elijah - where was Elijah before God called him to go before the King of that day? Before he's - before king ahab pronounced judgment - where was he? He was a man wearing common clothes. You wouldn't even call them common clothes, perhaps. Rural setting - totally out of the spotlight - we don't know what God is preparing us to do and so David, here, is faithful in the little things.

You say, 'oh, that sounds pretty big to me.' You know, a lion, a bear? But it was little in the eyes of the world. And he trusts God and he's seen what God has done. And so, you know the story: David goes in faith and the key statement here that the lesson highlights, is that David is actually trusting in the Lord. It highlights verse 47 - 1 Samuel chapter 17, verse 47 - as David is speaking of his confidence, "then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear, for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hands." So David goes forth confident in the God whose authority has been questioned throughout history. Satan began those questions in heaven saying, 'you know, God really isn't interested in you.

' He brought it to adam and eve, right? 'God is keeping something from you. If you just eat this fruit, you'll know good and evil. Just trust your own judgment a little bit more than God's word.' Do you see the problem? How about us today? Are we susceptible to the same problem? Is God calling you to do something and you're saying, 'but I can't do that.' By the way, if God only called you to do things that you were confident you could do, who would be in danger of getting the glory? You. You, right? When does God call us to do the most amazing things? It's when we realize our insignificance, right? When we realize our great need for God's hand to be on our shoulder. So if, right now, you're struggling - you're saying, 'does God really want me to do this?' If God's putting a burden on your heart, what would David's example say to you? Do it.

Do it. Go forward. Make this year a year where you're going to do bold things for God - not just because it's your idea, but because God is impressing you that you need to step out of your comfort zone. We've heard that before, haven't we? But it's so true - so true. Well, you'd say, 'what a great story' - David trusting in the Lord - but they don't want us to stop looking at David's life in this lesson with that vignette.

They want us to turn to another chapter in David's history. Now they want us to go to 2 Samuel chapter 11 - 2 Samuel chapter 11 - so many years have passed. David, from a youth, waging war on Goliath, is now the King. He is a king who has been victorious multiple times. the Kingdom of Israel has extended and in 2 Samuel chapter , the story opens this way - 2 Samuel 11, verse 1, "it happened in the spring of the year, at the time when Kings go out to battle, that David sent joab (his general) and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of ammon and besieged rabbah.

But David reMained at Jerusalem. Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the King's house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, 'is this not bathsheba, the daughter of eliam, the wife of uriah the hittite?' Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house.

" Did you catch some of the dynamics of this story? It's a story that's often been told, but there's a phrase in this account that is often missed. It's right here. It says, 'bathsheba was cleansed from her impurity.' Do you understand what that's talking about? I invite you to turn in your Bibles to the book of Leviticus chapter 15 - Leviticus 15 - so Moses' five books, often referred to as the pentateuch - Leviticus is right in the heart of those books - Leviticus chapter 15 - Leviticus 15 gives an interesting ceremonial description. Leviticus verse - chapter 15, verse 19 - it says this: "if a woman has a discharge, and the discharge from her body is blood, she shall be set apart seven days; and whoever touches her shall be unclean until evening. Everything that she lies on during her impurity shall be unclean; also everything that she sits on will be unclean.

" And it goes on and explains about this ceremonial uncleanness and it speaks about, then, the need for purification. So the context - in the context of the story in 2 Samuel chapter - David sees this beautiful woman and when he calls her to the palace, he finds out that she is what? She has been cleansed from her monthly impurity. And he says what? The implication of the story is that David says, 'lookit, God has prepared the way that I can engage in a relationship with this woman without being defiled. No really, that's the only reason that it's mentioned in the context. Now you might think this sounds crazy, but I've been there before - not personally, but with other people.

As a pastor and as a physician, I've talked with many people over the years. I remember one woman telling me she was in an extramarital affair and she was telling me and my wife - we were counseling with her - she was saying, 'well this is - God just showed me that this was my soulmate.' Listen, you're married to someone else. 'No, but God revealed this.' And she was going through all these providences that showed her that she was supposed to be in this incestuous, you'd say, or adulterous, more precisely, relationship. You would say, 'well how could that happen? I don't know what it is, but we're studying the Great Controversy and there's something in all of us that wants to make everything black and white. Have you noticed that? So David: was he good or was he bad? Yes.

Yes, okay. How many of us always make the right choices? None of us, right? Black and white it's often not. But David, now, think about it - let's make it very contemporary. Some - there are some people in our midst - and I'm not speaking, necessarily, of anyone here in this congregation, but I'm speaking of Christianity as a whole today. There are people who want to divide the church into the liberals and the conservatives.

Now, I don't know that those designations are particularly useful, but let's just pause here. David is engaging in an extramarital affair. Would you say he is dis - manifesting what people today would say is a typical characteristic of conservatives or of liberals? Now no one wants to speak because, depending on what party you're in, you'll point fingers at the other side. Here's the point I'm making: David seems, in 2 Samuel 11, to be very preoccupied with the law. You see, he wants to make sure that bathsheba is not unclean ceremonially.

That's really the implication - you may disagree, but I would suggest to you that there is no reason why that is mentioned in the text, other than that, through David's mind, he was saying, 'this is God's hand blessing this relationship.' On a certain level, at the same time, he's doing what? He is breaking God's ten commandment law. How can we do that? Many of us may be asking, 'what is God's will for my life? Are you there right now? You're praying about something. Maybe it's a job situation. Maybe it is in the area of relationships. Maybe it relates to your finances.

You're praying about 'what is God's will for my life?' Let me tell you, from my own personal experience and from biblical history, God's will is often clarified when we follow known light - when we follow God's revealed will. But many of us, in certain areas of our life, are not following all that light and we start asking for signs and we start looking for, somehow, God's sign of blessing. I remember a story - maybe some of you have heard dr. Nedley tell it. He tells about a young man who was wondering if he should marry a certain young lady and, I guess, people had been telling both him and the young lady this did not look like a good relationship.

So one day he's driving his car and a train is approaching a crossing. He's some distance away and he says, 'well, I need a sign. Lord, if it's you're will that I marry this girl, help me beat the train.' And so he speeds up and he gets there just ahead of the train and crosses the tracks. So what would you call that? Crazy. Yeah, some of you call it crazy, others of you call it lucky.

He called it a sign from the Lord that he should marry this girl. I mean, is this crazy or is this crazy? Now for some reason, the Bible speaks that sometimes we've got these beams in our own eyes and we're trying to pull what? Little specs out of other people's eyes. So we can see it when other people are doing it, but God is calling us, in these stories, to be faithful to him. So you say, 'well, hey, I know how this story ended. David was forgiven by God.

David repented sincerely.' By the way, he was not a man after God's own heart when he was engaged in adultery with bathsheba. You all realize that, right? But when he repents and God forgives him, he again is displaying the character of God. Paul wrote about it. He said, 'okay, what do you think? If God can work through my sin, let's all sin more so that God will be glorified more.' I'm paraphrasing from the book of Romans. You remember that? What does Paul say? God forbid.

Yeah, the King James translates that God forbid - some would say that's not a real good translation there because that sounds like you're taking the Lord's name in vain. Other people say, 'no, that's not in vain. You're saying, you know, 'God forbid that'. 'May it never be', Paul is saying. Whatever language you like - here's the point: our sin never increases God's glory - never increases God's glory.

It's always best for us to follow God's law faithfully. Let's add one more bit to the story here, that I think is particularly fascinating. Turn, in your Bibles, with me to 1 Chronicles chapter 3 - 1 Chronicles chapter 3 because lest we think that everything turned out happily ever after - you've read the Bible enough, most all of you, that you realize all kinds of problems came into David's life as a result of this. David had a multitude of wives and one of them is mentioned here in 1 Chronicles chapter 3. In verse 2 we're introduced to guess who? Absalom, in verse 2.

In verse 5 of 1 Chronicles 3, Solomon is mentioned. By the way, whose child was Solomon? Bathsheba. Yes, bathsheba or bathshua - it's the same person. So you might say, 'well, wait a minute.' Now Solomon was, again, in the line of Jesus. He was a man of peace.

And who was his mother? Bathsheba. You know, I'll be honest with you. We've got four other Bible characters to look at and I'm getting concerned. But let me just pull back the curtain a little bit for a minute. Do you realize who bathsheba was? Do you realize who her father was? And who her father-in-law was? And who was the grandfather, if you will, in that lineage.

Do you know? Some of these relationships? Yes, ahithophel, David's wise counselor, it was his boy that married bathsheba. Did you know that? You can study it out. We won't go through all the texts here today, but ahithophel, the wise counselor of David, whose counsel was, as it were, the counsel of God. Turn with me - we just got - I could see some of you are really questioning what I'm trying to tell you here. 2 Samuel chapter 23 - just go with their - go there with me for a minute.

Chronicles - excuse me, 2 Samuel chapter 23. Why I want you to look at this is because we're talking about taking sides and we'll look at some of these other Bible characters in just a minute, but we want to align ourselves with those who we think are exemplary, but we find that everyone has skeletons in their closets. Samuel chapter 23 is a rendition of David's mighty men, beginning with verse 8. And if you read through this list of David's mighty men, you'll find that there are a number of interesting figures in this list. One of them is none other than guess who? Eliam, okay, who was the - was The Father of bathsheba - and then we have uriah the hittite that's - uriah is verse 39 in 2 Samuel 23 and eliam is there in verse 34.

And you see who eliam is, he's The Son of ahithophel the gilonite. So, for those of you who don't remember the story of David, what happens is that David, as a result of this adulterous relationship, he loses his own moral power in his own family. Absalom ends up rebelling against David and ahithophel, whose counsel is like the counsel of God - that's what the Bible says - His Word is just like gold. Whatever he says seems to happen, actually joins up with absalom. And basically, what's happening, if you look at the story objectively, David is guilty of murder.

He's guilty of adultery, and ahithophel is saying, 'God is finally at work. David is finally getting his just reward and I'm going to join up with absalom so that David gets what's deserved of him. He ruined my family.' A man whose counsel was like the wisdom of God. But who did ahithophel actually end up rebelling against? He was rebelling against God himself. Why I take time with the story is because there are people in your life who have wronged you.

Are you aware of that? I don't need to remind you. There may be people in the church who've wronged you. There may be people joining us, by way of the internet, who are not in church today because people have wronged them in their home church. Here's the message in this story: it doesn't matter how people have wronged you; God does call us to forgive. But beyond that, God says, 'judgment is mine.

I will repay.' We can trust God with the lives of other people, just like we can trust God with our own lives. With that background, we need to move on because we've still got a number of other Bible characters to look at. We move to Elijah next, in Monday's lesson. Elijah the tishbite, again, a seemingly insignificant man until he's burdened with the iniquity - the iniquity of Israel. At this time now, the united monarchy under David and Solomon has been divided.

Ahab is the King of the northern tribes. There was never a good king of the northern tribes. They were all wicked. And so Elijah bears this testimony, but the lesson wants us to focus on, not his testimony about the coming drought - the famine that will come - but rather on the conclusion to those three and a half years of drought and famine in Israel, because it brings us to the story, in 1 Kings 18, and I invite you to turn there with me. In 1 Kings 18 we're reading about another amazing story in the history of the Great Controversy, and it exposes us to the question, really, that we began with.

It's the question at the foundation of this entire quarter. In 1 Kings 18, beginning with verse 21, God has called for a rendezvous through Elijah, of the two opposing factions - just like it was in David's day. The army is rebelling against God and his will. The philistines were on one side, the Israelites were on the other. Now, on Mount Carmel, there is another showdown, if you will.

And on Mount Carmel we find, on one side, Elijah and, it seems like, everyone else on the other. Look what Elijah says in verse of 1 Kings 18, "and Elijah came to all the people and said, 'how long will you falter (or limp) between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if baal, follow him.'" And it's often been pointed out that what was happening here was not a rebellion against God - even though it was. You say, 'wait a minute. How can you say it was not a rebellion against God and it was? It's got to be one or the other. It was a rebellion against God, but the people didn't think they were rebelling against God.

You see, Elijah didn't say, 'stop following baal and start following jehovah.' What did he say? 'How long are you going to waver between two sides? You see, the word that's been used in theological circles, for what was happening, was something called syncretism. What was happening was God's people were saying, 'yes, we're following jehovah, but we don't want to just follow jehovah, we want to hedge our bets and we want to also follow baal. After all, they say he brings the rain and everything. We'll serve baal and we'll also serve jehovah. By the way, do you know this is the popular religion of today? This is the post-modern world: 'oh yes, Christianity's good.

So is islam and buddha, buddhism and taoism and yes, you know, the secular humanists are right too. You know, everyone's right. We all have our own truth and we can grow.' Listen, I'm not saying there aren't things we can learn from people of every culture. Don't misunderstand me. But what I am saying is at the heart of the Great Controversy is that God's Word can be trusted.

God's Word is true. And yes, someone - an adherent of islam - if they're following biblical principles, they can be following truth. Someone living in a remote place, who's never heard the name of God, the Holy Spirit can be speaking to their heart and they can be following God's truth without the Revelation of the Bible, but it is so much clearer right here. And so Elijah calls on Mount Carmel to do what? For us, by extension, to stop halting between two opinions. By the way, what is really, in essence, the religion of baal? It's the religion of our own creation, you see? Are we really following God wholeheartedly? Am I following God wholeheartedly? What is God calling me to do today? You say, 'but, you know, dr.

Derose, if I were following all that God wanted me to do, I mean, I'd lose my job.' What was on the line for Elijah on Mount Carmel? Was he going to lose his job? I mean, his life was on the line. I mean, you realize some of these stories - these people that we're reading about - these so-called insignificant people that changed the course of history - they're doing what? They're doing things that look unreasonable from a human standpoint because God has called them to do it. And this is what speaks to me today. Let's go on to Tuesday's lesson, words of defiance - words of defiance. We're, again, reading about another king.

This time a king of the southern tribes, a good king, king hezekiah. And things are especially challenging. Turn your Bibles now to 2 Kings 18 - 2 Kings 18 - hezekiah is the ruler of God's people - the earthly ruler - during the time of the great Gospel prophet Isaiah. And 2 Kings tells us about this reign of hezekiah and how hezekiah was zealous to do what was right in the Lord's sight. Look at 2 Kings 18, verse 3.

It says "he" - referring to hezekiah - "did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done." And it speaks about how he, in verse 4, tore down those idol worship centers in the southern kingdom that he was ruling over. And in verse 5 it says, "he trusted in the Lord God of Israel." So, basically, hezekiah is living a life where he's saying 'God is trustworthy. I can put my trust in him and God will bless. But you say, 'well, if that's the - the basic premise of these lessons, follow God - trust him - follow His Word and everything will be blessed, that is not what happens in the story. Because as the story plays out, as you come to verse 17, we find that hezekiah is under siege.

The city of Jerusalem is surrounded and the emissaries from the world power of the day - that's assyria, okay? Headquartered in nineveh, assyria is threatening to conquer Jerusalem and they are speaking blasphemy against the Lord. Let's look at one of the high points of the speech of the spokespeople for sennacherib, the King of assyria. Jerusalem, remember, under siege - surrounded - looking hopeless and here's the word that comes - I'm in 2 Kings chapter 18, beginning with verse 28. I'm kind of jumping into the middle of that verse, "hear the word of the great king, the King of assyria!" - That's sennacherib - "thus says the King: 'do not let hezekiah deceive you, for he shall not be able to deliver you from his hand; nor let hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, 'the Lord will surely deliver us; this city shall not be given into the hand of the King of assyria.'' Do not listen to hezekiah; for thus says the King of assyria: 'make peace with me'" - etcetera, etcetera. Basically, as you read through this speech, God is being displayed as impotent in the face of sennacherib - the one who, if you read sennacherib's writings, he's blessed by asher, this heathen God, and he is the all-powerful one.

That's how he styles himself. You say, well, how do you know that? There's an amazing archaeological discovery that dates back to the 1800s - there are actually several copies of a prism with sennacherib's inscriptions. One of them is known as the taylor prism, found by colonel taylor in the 1800s, in nineveh. The taylor prism actually is describing this very conquest of sennacherib. Now, I don't read cuneiform, which this prism is written in, but there are some very good translations of this - a number of them - and as you read through the translations of the taylor prism and these other prisms that speak about sennacherib's conquests, you read about him coming to this country and they didn't surrender and I took the King and I banished him and all his family died and I obliterated this town and I obliterated this and I took this other king and I brought him back to nineveh as a, you know, as a servant.

' But what happens when he comes to Jerusalem? Well, the biblical account says - let's look at it, actually - 2 Kings chapter 19, the biblical account says that when Jerusalem is under siege, hezekiah does something remarkable. Kings 19 - hezekiah is getting these messages, spoken in Hebrew before the wall, to dispirit the people. Then in writing - "then hezekiah" - verse 15 of 2 Kings - he does what? He prays to the Lord. Now, by the way, David's situation was hopeless from a human perspective. Elijah's situation looked hopeless, I mean, he's arraigned against the whole kingdom of Israel and he's speaking for God when nobody's seems to be on his side.

How hopeful does it look for hezekiah when this is the world's leader - sennacherib - an army of 185,000 or more camped around the city? What is happening? People are saying, 'it's over. Just surrender. It's obvious.' Hezekiah does what? He prays. Listen to his prayer - 2 Kings chapter 19, verse 15 - hezekiah prays before the Lord and he says this: "o Lord God of Israel, the one who dwells between the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the Kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.

" So who's he praying to? He is praying to the creator and to the God of the sanctuary. Very interesting, isn't it? He's praying to the God who is enthroned in the sanctuary. This heavenly sanctuary is real is what hezekiah is saying. God is the creator. We didn't just occur by chance.

God is the creator. Very interesting statements in light of earth's history. Verse 16, "incline your ear, o Lord, and hear; open your eyes, or Lord, and see; and hear the words of sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, Lord, the Kings of assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their Gods into the fire;" - so he's saying, 'listen, I know how powerful this army is.' - It's true. Everything he's saying.

He's wiped out everybody else. Hezekiah doesn't surrender. Why? Because he has confidence that God is trustworthy - that God is powerful - that we can trust him. And so he does that. He pours out this prayer and the result of his prayer is that God from heaven strikes the army of sennacherib.

They're destroyed, miraculously. And so we come back to the taylor prism. We don't read, when it comes to hezekiah, that his city was obliterated, like these - some of the other cities that sennacherib wrote about - numerous cities he spoke of obliterating. We don't read about hezekiah being taken as a prisoner back to nineveh. Why? Well, because he wasn't.

Everyone would know if that was on the prism - they'd say it was just a bunch of lies. What does he say about hezekiah? He says "hezekiah have I caged up like a bird." Look at it here. "As to hezekiah" - mentioned explicitly in this taylor prism - "as to hezekiah the jew, he did not submit to my yoke. I laid siege to forty-six of his strong cities. Himself, I made a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage.

" So what could sennacherib boast about when it came to hezekiah and Jerusalem? All he could say is 'I put the city under siege.' But he doesn't say the rest of the story that the Bible reveals. But do you see? Here's an archaeologic record that is telling us the same thing the Bible is telling us: the Bible can be trusted. When it comes to the topic of the lesson, do you want to trust in the God who redeems, the God who creates, the God who's in the sanctuary? Or do you want to rebel and rebellion often looks very pious. David was rebelling when he was following the levitical laws in making sure he didn't have an adulterous relationship with a menstrous woman. Let's go on - a few more stories here to briefly touch on.

We now come, in Wednesday's lesson, to another person who, by some accounts, might be insignificant, this is Esther. But Esther is actually related to a close relative, mordecai, father figure to her there. Mordecai in the King's presence. By the way, when does the story of Esther take place? Any idea? Somewhere in the late 400s bc. When did the captivity of Jerusalem, or God's people, end in Babylon? Yeah, around 536 - 537 bc.

So we're talking decades after that. By the way, our last story, Nehemiah, that we'll just briefly touch on, that story took place another generation after Esther, okay? So somewhere around 444 bc. Why are those dates so significant? You can read Ezra chapter 1 of that decree that cyrus gave around 537 bc. And what was his decree? All God's people go back to Jerusalem. Go back.

Rebuild your temple. I'm sanctioning it.' You read the book of Zechariah, some twenty years later, saying 'go back. Don't stay in Babylon.' God was giving message after message, telling his people to leave the home of their captivity and go back to Jerusalem. But what did most people do? They stayed where they were at. Why? I mean, from a human perspective, it was stupid to go back to Jerusalem.

By the way, read Zechariah 2 if you have any questions. God promises them - there's no wall up. Remember, Nehemiah was the one that built the wall. He was the impetus - the man that God used to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. But long before that, God said, 'I will be a wall of fire to you.

Just trust me. Go back to Jerusalem.' So now we're reading about Esther and Nehemiah. Here's the question, the lineage of Esther and Nehemiah, where were these two individuals? Their fathers, if you will - their grandfathers had not left the land of captivity. Esther and Nehemiah were children of those who had refused to follow God's Word. So if you're wanting to label people, they were the ones who were not following God and what does God do through them? He uses them.

Are you catching something here? Your history, your past, your family's history, your genetics do not exclude you from being one of the people God uses. The key words through Nehemiah that were the memory text for this lesson, the key words: 'let us rise up and' - do what? - 'Build.' For decades the wall has lain in ruins. God puts a burden on a man with a bad background. Just like Solomon, the child of an adulterous relationship. I mean, you think you've got an excuse for not doing something for the Lord? Can I make excuses for not doing what God is calling me to do? What this lesson tells us is that God uses people who are insignificant, but every one of us is really significant.

We cannot - we cannot exclude ourselves from God's calling. You know what? It may just start with you reaching out to a person next to you that you don't know. Maybe it's a neighbor. I don't know what God's calling you to do, but God is calling you to change the world - not because you're so great, but because he wants to work through insignificant people. Well, we have a free offer.

I just want to remind you, our own Pastor Doug has written this book the armor of God. If you're in North America, you can call 866-study-more - -788-3966. Ask for free offer #173. If you're one of our viewers throughout the world, not in North America, you can get this free online at can't get enough Amazing Facts Bible study? You don't have to wait until next week to enjoy more truth-filled programming, visit the Amazing Facts media library at ''. At 'aftv.

org' you can enjoy video and audio presentations as well as printed material all free of charge, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, right from your computer or mobile device. Visit ''. Friends, have you ever heard of the bowhead whale? This enormous leviathan is the second-largest creature in the world. Dark and stocky, it roams the fertile arctic northern waters. These massive creatures can be more than 65-feet long and weight more than 75 tons.

That's heavier than the space shuttle. Yet, in spite of their titanic size, they're able to leap entirely out of the water. Can you say 'belly flop'? The bowhead whale gets its name from its bow-shaped skull - and they've got one ginormous noggin. Matter of fact, their heads are about 40 percent of their body size, which comes in handy when you find out how they use their heads. They've got very thick skulls.

Sometimes they get trapped under the surface and they use their heads to ram the ice. They can break a breathing hole in the ice that is a foot and a half thick. Friends, you have to just imagine what it would be like to be walking around on the arctic ice and all of a sudden have the ground beneath you crack and split and rise as one of these sea monsters pushes its head up to breath for the first time in minutes. Because bowheads make their home in the coldest part of our world, they have the thickest blubber of any whale. But this, plus their friendly and curious nature, made them prime targets when the european whalers discovered the bowheads.

They hunted them nearly to extinction. Fortunately, because of conservation efforts, we've slowly seen their Numbers begin to increase since the 60s. One of the most Amazing Facts about the bowhead whale is its longevity. Scientists have discovered, by evaluating harpoon tips found in their skull, and examining their eye tissue, there are bowhead whales out there that are probably over 200 years old. You realize that means there are bowhead whales swimming the oceans right now that were alive before Abraham lincoln was elected president.

Can you imagine that? Among the other amazing mega-facts about the bowhead whale, is its mega-mouth. They have the largest mouth of any in the animal kingdom. And when they open their pie hole full extended, it's large enough to park a medium-sized suv inside. Yet, in spite of the fact that they've got such big mouths, they survive by eating the very smallest creatures in the ocean - plankton, krill, and other microscopic animals. Friends, I'm always amazed by the creatures God has made.

This bowhead whale is able to dive to the deepest oceans. They can break through the ice and move mountains with their head and completely leave the water and fly through the air. And yet, they do all that by gaining strength from almost microscopic organisms. It helps us remember that we survive through the little promises in God's Word. Jesus, when tempted by the devil, he quoted just a few little verses and he sent the enemy running.

You can also have that same durability and long life as the bowhead whale, by trusting in God's Word and his promises. For life-changing Christian resources, visit Did you know that Noah was present at the birth of Abraham? Okay, maybe he wasn't in the room, but he was alive and probably telling stories about his floating zoo. From the creation of the world to the last-day events of Revelation, '' is a free resource where you can explore major Bible events and characters. Enhance your knowledge of the Bible and draw closer to God's Word.

Go deeper. Visit the amazing Bible time line at ''.

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