As we headed south from Banner Elk, North Carolina, there was a long steep grade curving through the Blue Ridge Mountains. We saw a sign that said, “runaway truck ramp one mile.” We wondered how in the world a ramp could be built that would stop a truck with no brakes as it barreled down the mountain. Then in a moment we saw it, branching off to the right like a spur on the road and slanting only slightly uphill and maybe 50 yards long. But it was all sand. One big mound and then a series of small mounds. It was the soft, deep sand that would stop the truck.
The first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles are like a runaway truck ramp. They stop us when we ought to be trucking right on through the Bible. I wonder how many people resolve to read through the Bible, but instead grind to a stop in the sandy genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1–9. They are very hard to get over.
But the irony is that the highway through 1 and 2 Chronicles is dotted frequently with scenic overviews of God’s gracious purpose. If we can get through the sands of chapters 1–9, these scenes are a tremendous refreshment to our faith. Here’s one example to encourage you to dig yourself out and keep going in the Blue Ridge Parkway of God’s revelation.
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came up against Jerusalem when Hezekiah was king. So Hezekiah gathered the people and the commanders together in the square at the gate. If you memorize what he said to them you will know the power of God in a new way. He said:
Be strong and be courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with them; for there is one greater with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.
Then the writer adds, “And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah, king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 32:7–8).
I want it to be said of me, “The people took confidence from the words of John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church.” That’s my goal: “the advancement and joy of your faith” (Philippians 1:25). What is the “King of Assyria” in your life? Whatever it is, remember: “there is one greater with you than with him!” If you trust him, the LORD almighty is on your side and will fight your battles! “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. . . . The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still” (Exodus 14:13–14).