"Moreover, is it without the LORD that I have come up against this land to destroy it? The LORD said to me, 'Go up against this land and destroy it.'"
"GOD TOLD ME..." Powerful words, aren't they? They're words designed to influence others. Words echoing divine authority & power. When someone says that, also implied is this unspoken sentiment: "Who are you to question God's commands?!?"
But maybe they're bantered around too easily. Maybe we should be a little (a LOT!) more reflective whenever someone says it. As I learned in seminary, the "hermeneutic of suspicion" could go a long way here.
Consider our passage today from Isaiah 36. The Assyrian King Sennacherib has come to attack the cities of Judah. King Hezekiah is in Jerusalem when the Assyrian armies arrive. Before attacking, however, the Assyrian spokesperson stats 'talking trash' and trying to convince Hezekiah's men to not resist, for the odds are stacked heavily against them. Amidst this dialogue, the Assyrian claims that not only has God been with him, but GOD CALLED HIM to undertake this military campaign against Judah. Yes, he's claiming to use Israel's God against them! (The nerve!)
But it caused me to think about very expression: "God told me..." How often do we speak those very same words? Of course, we may not be intentionally trying to manipulate others, like the Assyrian officer was... but it could have similar consequences if we're not careful. As sure as we may be of God's direction & instruction in our lives, we need to be careful about speaking on behalf of the Almighty.
Somehow, the phrase "Do not take the LORD'S Name in vain" comes to mind here...