This sermon is part of the sermon series "Earthy Spirituality". See series.
I'd like to write a book someday called Desperate Places: How God Shines Through Our Weakness. These desperate places are places of weakness, brokenness, and vulnerability. They comprise the times in our lives when we're at wits' end and, if God doesn't show up with power and redemption, we're lost. The apostle Paul described a desperate place in his life in 2 Corinthians 12:9: "I will boast … about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." Desperate places are agonizing places, but they are also the places where God unleashes his power in ways we could never imagine. Second Chronicles 32:1-22 describes a desperate place. This is a story about finding God's strength in the midst of our weakness, brokenness, and vulnerability.
For nearly thirty years, the nation of Assyria was the reigning superpower. They were big, strong, organized, efficient, and incredibly cruel. In 701 B.C. Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, started moving his vast army down the coast of Palestine to recapture all the territories that were supposed to remain under Assyria's thumb. He eventually made his way to the hill country of Judah to topple the fortified city of Lachish. This brings us to 2 Chronicles 32:1.
There are a few things to understand about the context behind this story. First, the Assyrians weren't like the other superpowers; they surpassed everyone in their sheer cruelty and savagery. As they conquered new places, they took the leaders and hung their bodies on poles. Archaeological digs have uncovered artwork from this time that shows Sennacherib lounging on his throne, being fed grapes by one of his wives and holding a wine goblet in his hand, while off in the distance, in a grove of trees, ...
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Matt Woodley serves as the Editor for PreachingToday.com and the Pastor of Compassion Ministries at Church of the Resurrection in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also the author of God With Us: The Gospel of Matthew (IVP).