“I see your five and I raise you ten.” It’s a poker phrase acknowledging a threat on the table and raising the stakes with a confident statement of your own. According to Wiktionary, it is “used when someone produces or reveals something. One says this to announce they will answer by producing or revealing something of their own, usually greater in significance.”
Life has a way of dealing out threats from time to time. We have a choice as to how we will respond. Some folks choose to fold to the facts of life and believe them over the truth of God’s word, relegating the Bible to a series of fairy tales. On the other hand, some well-meaning Christians ignore facts, in the spirit of faith, playing the part of the proverbial ostrich with his head in the sand. They think that the problems will just go away if they pretend they’re not there. There’s a more balanced approach here.
In the Old Testament of the Bible, King Hezekiah received a terroristic threat from Assyrian King Sennacherib. In the message, the rival king endeavored to turn Hezekiah’s attention away from God to the nations he had already conquered. He asked why Hezekiah thought his God would, or could, deliver his people when the gods of the other fallen nations had not. Hezekiah’s response gives us a beautiful template to follow when the spiritual enemy of our lives tries to up the bid for our souls.
He gets down to the business of authentic prayer to God. He presents facts first: “It is true, LORD, that kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them.” He acknowledges the historical facts. King Sennacherib and his predecessors had done these things. There was no use in denying it. The army was strong and ruthless and successful. It was scary. But Hezekiah didn’t allow the facts to be the only focus of his prayer. He followed them with the truth embedded deep within his heart.
“… But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all – only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands.” This truth in the king’s heart trumped any facts laying on the table. Then, from that truth came a prayer that moved the heart of Jehovah. “Now, O LORD our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that You alone, O LORD, are God.”
What I love the most is God’s response, and notice, He does a little poker table trash-talking here! To King Sennacherib, He says, “The virgin daughter of Zion despises you and laughs at you. The daughter of Jerusalem shakes her head in derision as you flee.” He asks the invading king who he thinks he’s been ridiculing. God reminds him of his bragging and tells him that He’s the one who allowed him to do those things as God used him like a pawn on a chess board to crush Israel’s enemies. Then, God basically tells Sennacherib, “I know where you live!” I love that! “I will put My hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth. I will make you return by the same road on which you came.” God tells Hezekiah that Sennacherib will not invade, or shoot an arrow, or even march around the city, or build siege mounds against the walls. In fact, he will return to his own country. And here’s the clincher. That night, an angel from Heaven went into the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 warriors. When King Sennacherib woke up and saw the corpses, he broke camp and returned to his own land. I guess so. Talk about raising the stakes!
Today, I encourage you. When you’re faced with paralyzing facts from your rival across the game table, don’t deny they exist. Just say, “I see your facts, and I raise you the Truth!” I tried to encourage a brother to declare Christ’s healing when his son received a scary report from the doctor. He replied, “I’m not going to deny there’s a problem. I saw the x-rays!” I responded, “Faith doesn’t deny there’s a problem; it simply defies the problem.” See the facts; raise the truth. There’s nothing God can’t do for a believer like that. Who knows, He may even do a little trash-talking for you as well.
(2 Kings 19 NLT)