I just love this interlude within the book of Isaiah. Yesterday I wrote about Chapter 36-37 where the commander of the Assyrian army come to scoff and denigrate the Israelites belief and trust in Almighty God. King Hezekiah sent for Isaiah the prophet and he gave encouraging words as God answered the insults of the Assyrian. Today as Chapter 37 continues as Sennacherib, the king of Assyria again sent a message to King Hezekiah, Isaiah 37:10-11“Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.’ 11 Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered?”
Sennacherib, the Assyrian King wanted to intimidate King Hezekiah and sent him a letter by messenger threatening his kingdom and ridiculing His God. Isaiah 37:14-20
“Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 16 “Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.
18 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. 19 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 20 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God.”
What would you do if you received a threatening letter like this? Hezekiah turned to the Lord. Isaiah 37:14-20
I love the order in which Hezekiah acted:
*He laid the letter out before God.
*He prayed and acknowledged God’s power as Creator of all things in heaven and earth.
*He asked the Lord to look and listen to how Sennacherib was ridiculing His name, the living God.
*He acknowledged the earthly power of the Assyrian armies and the devastation they had brought.
*He told God of the Assyrian’s blasphemous idolatry.
*He asked God to deliver them from this enemy so that the world would know God is the one true God.
King Hezekiah knew that in and of themselves they were lost and defeated. Their only hope was in God Almighty! Hezekiah’s example shows us how to react when faced with situations beyond our control. We are to take it to the Lord. God alone has the answer and can defend us. Isaiah relayed to King Hezekiah’s officials that God was going to defeat this enemy in a very unusual way so that there would be no doubt as to who had saved Israel and defeated the Assyrian king.
I also love Hezekiah’s prayer as he did not start out with the request. He first acknowledged who God is and the power which Hezekiah knew and believed that God possessed. He also let God know how upset he was that God’s name and honor were being questioned. He was offended for God. He also wanted God to know that they were pagans and did not even revere or respect their own gods. God knew all this but Hezekiah needed to talk with God about it and as he prayed he gained hope and reassurance. Prayer is a process, a dialogue, communication with God and we receive strength and enlightenment as we pray. Talking about God- who He is and what He can or does brings hope and reassurance.
Review this story again and look closely at Hezekiah’s actions and prayer. Hopefully, you can apply this to your own life’s circumstances. I have done this many times. When I receive disturbing news, a letter, bill, etc., I will physically place it down in front of me and kneel in prayer. The physical action of laying it before God helps me put things in perspective and remember as I pray who is in charge. May this process help you too. Learning to bring things before God in prayer is a valuable lesson we can learn from an ancient king.