From 2 Kings Chapters 18-19.
Do you have a looming situation that’s coming closer and you can do nothing about it? It may may be some kind of deadline, an inevitable challenge or a negative event that is bound to happen. What do you do when it is out of your hands yet it is on its way? Well, Hezekiah experienced one such situation and it is no exaggeration to say it was a matter of life and death. Just to emphasize, this was a real-life event. And these were ordinary people like you and me.
The Assyrians had recently attacked Israel. They destroyed many homes and took thousands captive. This army was known to be extremely cruel. It was not uncommon for them to torture their captives in ways that are unspeakable. So after taking Israel, they came for Judah in which Hezekiah was king. They took many fortified cities and plotted to take Jerusalem—where the royal palace was situated.
The king of Assyria sent his supreme commander, his chief officer and his field commander with a large army, from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. They came up to Jerusalem and stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field. They called for the king; and Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went out to them.
The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah:
“This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says, ‘On what are you basing this confidence of yours? You say you have the counsel and the might for war—but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me?’”
Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, and Shebna and Joah said to the field commander, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall.”
But the commander replied, “Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the people sitting on the wall—who, like you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?”
I told you they were cruel.
The commander continued, “Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?”
Soon those very words were repeated to Hezekiah. He was distraught; he ripped his garments in anguish. Afterwards though, he commanded the people to pray and he prayed as well.
That is important, notice how he disregarded the threat of the Assyrians in spite of them destroying Israel and many cities near him. He considered God more than this great and ruthless army.
Later on, Isaiah the prophet sent a message to Hezekiah saying, “Tell your master [the king], ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Listen! When he hears a report, I will make him return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down.’”
Shortly after, the Angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning, all they saw were countless bodies. So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there. His sons Adrammelek and Sharezer later killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat.
Hezekiah rejoiced in the Lord’s deliverance. This crisis required great faith from him, but God saved the people because their king trusted the Lord in spite of what he saw. Let us take a leaf from him and not think what we are facing is too difficult for God. He can deliver us from or through the furnaces of life. Remember with Him ALL things are possible.
Illustration By Damien F. Mackey