After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the LORD’s Temple and spread it out before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the LORD: “O LORD, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God. —2 Kings 19:14-16 NLT
Sometimes when I think I have it bad in my own life, I go back to stories in the Bible and am reminded of what bad can really look like. And I am not there yet. Hopefully, neither are you. Let’s take King Hezekiah and his people who lived in Jerusalem, for example, back in ancient history. They were being attacked by the Assyrians, who were a cruel and bloodthirsty people, who had already defeated countless other cities and nations. Now they surrounded Jerusalem and promised to stay until the people were broken and starving. The Assyrian army had a reputation for keeping their word in situations like this. They mocked God and shouted to the people of Jerusalem to surrender before it was too late and they died of hunger and thirst. That army of 185,000 Assyrian soldiers appeared to be pretty much undefeatable, and their offer of life to those who surrendered was looking mighty attractive. Extreme fear tactics of what the future would surely hold were terrifying and could have led to a full out surrender. Quite frankly, from a human perspective, that sounded like the wisest course of action.
However, King Hezekiah did not listen to the terror threats and he did not give in to the very real and large army just waiting to conquer his land. He rejected the temptation to give in to “future fears.” What he did is a blueprint for all of us whenever our future looks frightening. And let’s be real here. If we want to let our minds go there, our future as a country could look pretty scary in this particular moment in history. Instead, let’s follow King Hezekiah’s lead.
- Take that terrifying future prediction directly to God and lay it out before Him. I am astounded by the very apolitical and nonmilitary actions that Hezekiah took. Right outside his city walls is an attacking army restless for battle and ready to kill, and what does he do? He takes the letter that demands surrender and literally smoothes it out flat and lays it before the Lord. He gives it to God through prayer. What a sensible approach. Hezekiah cannot defeat this enemy—and listening to their grotesque descriptions of what a siege will do to the people of Jerusalem is not making anything better. So why listen? Oh, to be wise like Hezekiah! The next time we hear a dire prediction, instead of endlessly listening to further renditions of our horrific fate, how about we take that prediction and go to prayer, laying it out before the Lord? How about that? We spend too much time listening to people and too little time listening to God. This must change or we will live in a state of fear and terror that God never intended for us.
- Remind yourself who God is and why you are safe with Him. Hezekiah’s prayer does not start with himself and his predicament at all. He begins with worship, praising God for who He is. We can actually just “worry pray” if we aren’t careful, endlessly cycling around all the awful things that could happen and never really speaking to God at all! But if we begin with worship like Hezekiah did, if we remember how powerful God truly is, if we acknowledge how small we truly are, then we can pray in faith believing that God is able to help us. And God is quite able to help us no matter what happens. Whether we live out our days in our nice little homes or in a cardboard shelter under a bridge, He will never leave or forsake His own. He will always love us, always whisper hope to us, always come through on His promise that one day we will realize that this life is very short and eternity with Him is very long and so brilliantly glorious that our troubles here will seem minuscule in light of the glory to come.
Oh, friends, hold on to the sure hope that is our birthright as children of God! Don’t spend endless hours listening to the news or other commentators and only sporadic minutes with your Lord. We have it backwards if the majority of our learning and listening times are to sources that are not from the only wise God. Let’s commit to spending more time listening to Him and rejoicing in all we have because we are His!
Oh. And just in case you were curious, those 185,000 soldiers did not last long. In one night, they all were stricken with a deadly plague and died. Just like that. You can read about it in 2 Kings 19. You can also read in secular histories that, although the Assyrians camped outside of Jerusalem with the intent to conquer … they failed. God is able to save us from a threatening future. And He just might, as He did long ago in Hezekiah’s day. Let’s trust Him and not give way to fear. After all, our future as coheirs with Christ of a heavenly kingdom looks very bright indeed!
Father God, we echo Hezekiah’s prayer today. “O LORD, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O LORD, and listen!” Please help us in our time of need. Give us hearts that trust and words that proclaim Your great love for the world as we have opportunity to call others into a sweet relationship with You, their Savior. Keep us close to You, Lord, in these troubled days and in all the days of our lives to come. We yearn for the day when all will be well forever, and You will physically dwell among us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
You are loved,
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