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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Isaiah 29:8 It shall even be as when a hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.

The setting for this text is during the Divided Kingdom of Israel and the reign of Hezekiah over the Southern Kingdom - the Kingdom of Judah, which was made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. It also took place during the time when Isaiah was a prophet of God. The subject text refers to the impending attack on Jerusalem by the Assyrian army lead by Sennacherib.

2 Kings 18 & 19 and 2 Chronicles 32 relate the planned siege of Jerusalem by the Assyrians. The story goes that Sennacherib and the Assyrian army were enjoying much success by warring against Israel and the countries surrounding it. Recognizing the mighty armies of Assyria, Hezekiah attempted to buy the safety of Jerusalem by lavish gifts sent to Sennacherib. These gifts were accepted but Sennacherib's determination to take Jerusalem by force was not stayed. As the armies of Assyria were camped outside Jerusalem at night waiting to attack in the morning, both Isaiah and Hezekiah prayed to God for their deliverance and the safety of Jerusalem. God heard their prayers and responded by sending an angel that killed 185,000 men of the Assyrian army. The indication was that only Sennacherib and a few of his men survived. They escaped to Nineveh where Sennacherib was later slain by two of his sons.

The lesson text seems to refer to a dream that Sennacherib had the night before his armies were destroyed. No doubt the success of Sennacherib, as he led his armies against other nations, had a deceiving affect on his confidence in taking Jerusalem. It was as if, in his dream, he was feasting on the successful defeat of Jerusalem and the vast wealth he would take as the result of its fall. However, when he awoke, he found his armies completely destroyed and his desire of conquering Jerusalem only an unsatisfying delusion. His dream was a complete deception of that which was real.

At some time we have all dreamed that we were dining sumptuously on our most favorite foods and beverages. What a feast! It could be pinto beans, fried potatoes, cornbread, and buttermilk, or it could be a seven course meal, featuring our favorite steak. But it was only a dream. When we awaken, we had a hollow feeling in our stomach. We were hungry and thirsty. Having this dream while asleep, our appetite is filled, but when wakened and realizing our feast was but a dream, we feel only hunger and thirst.

To be deceived is to be led to believe what is not true - to be misled. Can we be deceived? Certainly!

Satan can deceive us - Paul told the Corinthians, But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3). Just as Adam and Eve were deceived, Satan can deceive us. How? Sometimes, we may fail to recognize Satan. Paul tells us that we should not marvel at this because Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). Many times the "good things of this world" are placed before us by Satan. God also offers many good things. We must test all good things. Are they of God or of Satan?

Sin can deceive us - For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me (Rom. 7:11). Without God's law, sin rules. To the godless, doing wrong is not a transgression since the person does not recognize God's commandments as rules for life. Outside of God's law, people are deceived by sin. Sin can be alluring, self gratifying, and can bring worldly fame and fortune. Outside of God's law, sin is deceitful. However, if, and when, a sinner comes to God and accepts God's will, then his sinful life will be exposed; it will be recognized; it can be repented of; it can be forgiven.

False teachers can deceive us - Matthew 24:11 says that many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. How do we recognize false teachers? By knowing God's word and comparing it to what we are being taught. How do we know God's word? Study, study and study! Those that are not knowledgeable of God's word are like children. The mind of a child is open and receptive to teaching. It is hard for a child, in its early years, to discern what is good or bad when being taught. It is the unlearned from whom false teachers find an audience. Ephesians 4:14 tells us that we should be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive."

We can deceive ourselves - But be ye doers of the word, and not hears only, deceiving your own selves (James 1:22). The world is filled with "religious" people - people that can recite verses, chapters, and even books of the bible; well educated in the scriptures and able to teach others God's word. Verse 23 describes this person as one that looks in a mirror and sees their imperfections, but on turning away, forgets and thinks of themselves as unblemished. Such is one that knows God's will but disregards it, and refuses to obey it. We read about the commandment of being a good neighbor, but do nothing to fill the spiritual and physical needs of others.

Sennacherib dreamed that he led his Assyrian army into Jerusalem, over ran it, captured it, and completely destroyed it. He was deceived. When he awoke from his dream, God, through one of his angels, had completely destroyed his army. Our lesson is that we can be deceived also, in many ways. Among the things by which we can be deceived is Satan, Sin, False Teachers, and Ourselves. The best way to avoid spiritual deception is to know God's will. Study His word and obey it each day. You will be assured of a good night's sleep and will wake up each morning with your spiritual hunger and thirst satisfied.