I spent an hour yesterday catching up on my Bible reading in the book of II Kings. King after king led the Israelites further and further away from the God who had rescued them. The Israelites blindly followed their leaders into bondage to false gods and oppression from neighboring kings. Not exactly uplifting reading.
And then comes King Hezekiah. “Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook.” (II Kings 18:5-7a – emphasis in BOLD is mine) What a breath of fresh air! Wouldn’t that be a wonderful way to be remembered?
The Israelites’ greatest offense was worshiping other gods. Hezekiah took care of this problem by destroying all the temples and places of worships to false gods. Then he re-established worship of the one true God as the expectation for the Israelites.
“In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.” King Sennacherib was hungry for more so he sent his supreme commander, chief officer, and field commander to Jerusalem. The field commander stood on the wall in front of the already beaten-down Israelites. Speaking in Hebrew, the language the commoners would know, he reads a trash-talking letter from the King of Assyria intended to bully and further intimidate the Israelites. (Read II Kings 18-19 for the whole story, but these statements jumped off the page when I read them.)
“This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours? On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me? If you say to me, “We are depending on the LORD our God”—isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before this altar in Jerusalem”? Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this place without word from the LORD? The LORD himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.”
I was struck by the powerfully manipulative lies the commander used. “On what you are basing this confidence of yours? On whom are you depending? And if you say it’s God, well He switched sides.” Who wouldn’t be shaking in their boots? Who wouldn’t be rattled in their faith?
The Israelites were a train wreck after that speech, but King Hezekiah knew what to do. He didn't try to solve the problem on his own. He didn't forge ahead with brute force. He didn't dissolve into a pile of tears and surrender without a fight. Instead, he took his problem to the LORD. Literally. II Kings 19:14 says, “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. And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD.”
I love the Bible. It’s so practical. In the middle of battles, and idol worship, and crazy stories of God’s power unleashed on earth, there’s a lesson for me living in 2011 in suburbia.
So often I behave like the Israelites. I forget where my confidence comes from and Who I am depending on. I try to fix things on my own. I forge ahead with brute force. On occasion, I dissolve into a pile of tears and surrender without a fight.
My prayer is that the next time I am challenged by a problem that seems insurmountable I’ll behave like King Hezekiah, spreading my problem out before the LORD and entrusting it to His capable hands through prayer.