The End of the Story (originally posted 7/14/11)
As we read the Bible, we have the benefit of seeing the whole picture. The end of the story is obvious to us, but to the actual participants, the results were longer in coming. What takes us only a few minutes to read may have happened over several day, weeks, or even years. It's easy to believe everything is going to work out when you can turn the page and see the ending, but it's different if you are living through it.
The story of King Hezekiah and King Sennacherib is one of my favorites in the Bible. (2 Kings 18 & 19) Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, was coming to attack Judah. He sent officials to Jerusalem to taunt the people and their king, Hezekiah. After Sennacherib's officials left, Hezekiah sent for Isaiah, then went into the temple of the Lord to pray. When King Hezekiah's officials came to Isaiah, Isaiah had this message from the Lord:
Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian king’s messengers. Listen! I myself will move against him, and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home.
So he will return to his land, where I will have him killed with a sword. 2 Kings 19:6-7
This message is found in verse 7, then in verse 9 we read that Sennacherib received a report that his kingdom was being invaded and he was needed at home. In verses 35-37, Sennacherib broke camp and returned home. Then one day, while worshiping in the temple of his god, Sennacherib's sons came in and killed him with the sword.
We are looking down through history as we read this account. As I read about Hezekiah, I am cheering him on. I can see that even as Isaiah is giving the message from the Lord, Sennacherib is receiving a message from home. I know how the story is going to end, and I shout to Hezekiah, "Keep going. Keep believing. God is faithful!" I can say this because I have read the end of the story.
Did you know we also have people cheering us on?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses ,let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Hebrews 12:1 (emphasis added)
This cloud of witnesses are people who are looking down through history at us. They have already know the end of the story. They cheer us on, saying, "Keep going! We know the end and it's going to be worth it."
And the one sitting on the throne said,
“Look, I am making everything new!”
And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End.
To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.
All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings,
and I will be their God, and they will be my children.