King Hezekiah is learning to trust God with a situation that is ongoing, and the enemy is trying to get him to faulter in his trust and confidence in God. It is easy to read stories in the Bible and think they are over quickly, or that there is no daily battle mentally happening like what we deal with in our daily lives. When you are going through a struggle most people do not realize the daily struggle mentally you are dealing with as you try and do what God has asked you to do. It is easy to trust God when we see a quick response but when the situation drags on it can wear on us and become more difficult to trust God through it. King Hezekiah will get a written threat from the Assyrians which could shake his confidence in God and cause him anxiety as he rehearses in his mind the way the scenarios can play out.
Threat: a statement of an intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action on someone in retribution for something done or not done.
The Assyrians want King Hezekiah to surrender so they do not have to have a difficult and a long drawn out battle to take Jerusalem. Most people who are Narcissist will threaten you because they are not getting their way and one thing we are promised as we get closer to the end of time is that people will become lovers of self or narcissist. (2 Timothy 3) Their intent is to hurt and damage you and so although we may not be threatened with our physical lives we sometimes have people threaten our reputations or our business by talking bad about us and spreading lies. This is the exact tactic that the Assyrians are using against Hezekiah and we will see what we can do when we face these similar circumstances in our daily lives.
Isaiah 37:8-13The Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, for he had heard that the king had left Lachish. 9 Now the king heard concerning Tirhakah king of Cush,[a] “He has set out to fight against you.” And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11 Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them, the nations that my fathers destroyed, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, the king of Hena, or the king of Ivvah?’”
- Trust God when threatened by Men
As the army has surrounded Jerusalem part of the army left to go and help in another area but before they left a letter was sent letting them know they will return and when they did, they would attack. The Attack on Jerusalem would not be easy which is why the Assyrians wanted them to surrender rather than starve them out and or attack them and engage in a difficult battle. The King of Assyria has no regard for the Living God and says that Jerusalem will fall just like all the other cities that have fallen proving their gods were no match for the Assyrian army. For fifty Years the Assyrians have been conquering Mesopotamia and so the thought was, what chance did Hezekiah have to stand up to this powerful army?
Hezekiah is being asked if he really trust His God to deliver him a question, we all must answer for ourselves. Logical thinking is important but when it comes to trusting in God, we must be careful that our logical thinking means that God does not have the power to overcome any situation. Many times, it is the voice of people that can cause us to lose hope in God like Elijah running after being threatened by Jezebel. (1 Kings 19) The Assyrians were calling God a liar and a deceiver and were trying to get King Hezekiah and the children of Israel to faulter in their trust in Him and surrender.
Hebrews 13:6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”
It is the mouth of people that cause us to fear and it is people, not God, that get our attention some unintentionally and some intentionally. We all can say we trust in God but when life is not going the way we want then it is difficult to wait on God for deliverance.
The letter from the King of Assyria was a written notice as to what will take place and the final warning to King Hezekiah. The facts where on the side of the Assyrians because it was true that they had yet to be stopped but the God we worship and serve is not limited in what He can do. Do not let the voice of others cause you to lose your trust in God. Do not let the voice of others be louder than the word God has already told you. Is God Able? Is a question we all must answer as we walk through this life.
Isaiah 37:14– Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.
“He spread out the letter to God” King Hezekiah literally took the letter and went into the temple and laid it out before God and waited for God to respond. In King Hezekiah’s mind it was God’s reputation that was on the line not his, but the Assyrians were doing all they could to get King Hezekiah to doubt God. Word had gotten back to the Assyrians that it was King Hezekiah’s belief in God that was keeping him from surrendering. Yes, Hezekiah would be captured or killed but it was God’s reputation that was on the line not His because it would be God who would be the one who would save them. Do you live your life as if your reputation is on the line or as if God’s reputation is on the line? When we learn to trust in God then we know that it is God who has to come through with what He has promised and although we will be the ones who might get mocked it will be God whose reputation will be at stake. Too many times we care more about our own reputation in our world and so we make sure that we only do or say things that we can accomplish.
“Believers need to worry more about trusting God and glorifying his name, rather than trying to figure out the answers to all the how and when questions. God purposely keeps the details of his ways mysterious, for knowing the how and when can have a negative influence on some of the dynamics of trusting God.” (The New American Commentary, Pg 616)
King Hezekiah was a man who was determined to let God fight his battles for him. Waiting for God to act is difficult but there are many situations in our lives where we need to just wait and see what God does with the threats we have been given.
Isaiah 37:15-19 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 18 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed.
King Hezekiah list attributes of God because it is always good to remember what God has told us about Himself.
- Lord Almighty or Lord of Host; This indicates that God is the commander of the Heavenly Armies.
- God of Israel: God’s connection with His chosen people
- Above the Cherubim: Gods Rules on His temple throne
- Ruler of all the nations
- Creator: He owns the world and all that is in it.
When we have a small view of God then our problems seem bigger than they are or at least bigger than God. These are not new things King Hezekiah has just learned but like many of us we know the attributes of God, but we do not allow them to impact our everyday decisions. King Hezekiah knew the stories of how God intervened for His people when they were at Egypt and how God continued to show Himself again and again to not only save His people but to show others that He was the true God. The early church prayed a similar prayer when they were being threatened
Acts 4:24-31 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant,[a] said by the Holy Spirit, “‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? 26 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’[b]—27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Threats will happen to God’s children simply because people do not want to answer to anyone but themselves and so they will try and silence those who believe in a God who should have the ultimate say in how they live their lives. The disciples did not pray to take the threat away or even for protection, but simply to give them the power to continue to speak the truth even though their lives had been threatened. Of course, God granted their request and filled them with the Holy spirit, and they continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Isaiah 37:20 So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.”
The entire point of King Hezekiah’s prayer is for God to be honored not himself or even the people. His prayer was like Elijah’s when he took on the prophets of Baal and He asked that God show Himself. Do we live our lives in such a way that only God can get the credit? Does our church operate in such a way that only God can be our explanation for what is accomplished?
Psalm 109:26-27 Help me, O Lord my God! Save me according to your steadfast love! 27 Let them know that this is your hand; you, O Lord, have done it!
This prayer is different from many of the selfish prayers we hear today but our prayers and our lives should be such that only God gets the glory.
Isaiah 37:21-25Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria, 22 this is the word that the Lord has spoken concerning him:“‘She despises you, she scorns you—
the virgin daughter of Zion; she wags her head behind you—the daughter of Jerusalem. 23 “‘Whom have you mocked and reviled? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes to the heights? Against the Holy One of Israel! 24 By your servants you have mocked the Lord, and you have said, With my many chariots I have gone up the heights of the mountains, to the far recesses of Lebanon, to cut down its tallest cedars, its choicest cypresses, to come to its remotest height, its most fruitful forest. 25 I dug wells and drank waters, to dry up with the sole of my foot all the streams of Egypt.
- God will deal with the threats
God spoke through Isaiah and Isaiah wrote down the answer to King Hezekiah’s prayers from God and God lets King Hezekiah know that the troops and the King of Assyria will retreat in frustration.
“Whom have you ridiculed and blasphemed?” (23) God wants it to be clear that it is His own name that He is defending against the King of Assyria who thought that he has become like a god. Seven times the word “I” is used when God is saying what the King of Assyria has said about all his accomplishments.Although the King of Assyria never reached the Delta, he was confident that he could and now God is going to show him who truly is God.
Isaiah 37:26-27‘Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass, that you should make fortified cities crash into heaps of ruins, 27 while their inhabitants, shorn of strength, are dismayed and confounded, and have become like plants of the field and like tender grass, like grass on the housetops, blighted[b] before it is grown.
God is reminding the King of Assyria that he was only allowed to do what he did because God allowed it so that God’s people would repent of their sin of false worship and sinful lifestyles. God was using the King of Assyria but the King of Assyria thought that it was by his own might and power that he achieved the victories that he achieved.
Isaiah 37:28-29 I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me.
29 Because you have raged against me and your complacency has come to my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came.’
The King of Assyria will be carried away like a wild ox who has a ring in his nose going where he does not want to go.
Isaiah 37:30-35And this shall be the sign for you: this year you shall eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from that. Then in the third year sow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. 31 And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 32 For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
33 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. 35 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
“This will be a sign” When God gives a sign, it is something so clear that it can only be explained as something He has done or given. It will not be because of all the circumstances just happen to fall into place but it is something that when you look back you know that God did it. God was letting them know that it would be too late to sow after God gave them the sign and by the time it was over it would be 2 sowing seasons before they could plant again. The sign would let them know that once the Assyrians leave, they are not coming back and that is what history has shown us has happened. It will not just be survival for Gods people, but things will get to the point that it will be renewed and they will “ADD roots downward and produce fruit upwards” which was talk about the productivity they will see.
“He will not come into the city or shoot an arrow there” God is promising King Hezekiah that they will not even begin to set up mounds of dirt that will allow them to get closer and closer in order to strike. No King of Assyria ever returned to Jerusalem even though Assyria remained dominate in other areas God will do this to make His name great not because of the people and because of the Davidic Covenant (Psalm 89:3-4) which would lead to the fulfillment of the prophecy of Jesus (Luke 1:32-33)
Isaiah 37:36-38 And the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 37 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. 38 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword. And after they escaped into the land of Ararat, Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.
An angel of God went out and smote 185,000 Assyrians. 2 Kings 19:35-37 indicates that this was the next night after the prophecy was given to King Hezekiah. A field commander joked that one Assyrian junior officer could destroy 2,000 Jewish Charioteers (36:8-9) but it only took one angel of God to destroy 185,000 Assyrians. Smote can mean to strike or it can mean a plague, so we are not clear what happened, but we know that it happened because the Egyptians even wrote about it. The stories in the Bible are historical and not just made up fairy tales as some say but have been proven true historically time and time again.
Whatever happened the King of Assyria knew that this was the hand of God that he was going against and God had proven Himself true. Why did the angel not strike the King as well? Some speculate it was so he would have to live defeated especially after seeing the most powerful army at the time destroyed so easily. Isaiah 37:29 God said He would make the King Return home and it was there where he died.
The King of Assyria would rule for 20 more years never going back toward Jerusalem and would die at the hand of two of his sons while he was worshiping his god. The King that bragged about all his accomplishments would die by his own family members as Isaiah prophesied would happen in Isaiah 37:7. The king of Assyria put his hope in his god, but his god could not even save him from his two sons in the very temple he was worshiping the god in.
Prayer is humbling coming before God with the realization that you are not in charge. Prayer is admitting that we have no control over the future and so we humbly lay our request before Him and humbly accept His plans.
1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
Just as King Hezekiah took the threat and laid it out before God so we are to take whatever cares or threats against us and give them to God. This does not mean that just because we humble ourselves and have faith that it means all our problems will go away. The Bible is full of stories of people of faith who were not delivered the way they thought they would be, but God had a plan that they could not fully understand.
“Faith is a commitment to trust the will of God for whatever he may ask one to experience; it is not a key that will force God’s hand to unlock his treasure house. Faith enables people to walk in a way that God honors and glorifies God, but in practical terms it daily echoes the profound words of Jesus in the garden, “not what I will, but what you will” (Matthew 26:39) (The New American Commentary, Pg 635)
What are you having to trust God for by faith? What is going on in your life that you need to lay down before God and ask for His intervention?