The Prayer of Hezekiah
2 Kings 18:28-19:37
March 12-13, 2022
The backstory of these chapters is that Assyria is now arising as a world-dominating power. They are destroying nation upon nation, and they're doing it with a cruelty that has become famous throughout history, I should say infamous. The cruelty by which they dominate nations is just tragic. At this point in history, they have already destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel. As you know, it's been separated, north and south. They've done to the northern kingdom of Israel a new tactic of war that had not been seen in the world before. It was a new tactic that the Assyrians invented, you might say, to dissolve a people.
What they would do is to take the population of the northern kingdom of Israel and disperse them amongst the nation, driving them into other nations, cities of the Medes and other places, never to be seen again. In fact, these become famously the lost 10 tribes of Israel. If you've ever heard that expression, that's where it comes from. The lost 10 tribes of Israel. Although it's important to recognize that God always has the remnant. He brought forth a remnant from those tribes into the southern kingdom, which we'll see as we go through the chapters before us.
That was a tactic of war. To disperse the people. To displace them. Then what Assyria would do was to take a people from some other place and bring them in, and establish them there. They would then intermarry with the Jews that remained and formed a new people called the Samaritans, which no doubt you've heard in church history or history of Israel. The Samaritans were this interbreed. The Jews did not think much of this interbreed. They disdained them and looked askance at them. Interestingly, when Jesus was ministering to that woman at the well, you know that famous story in John 4, that woman was a Samaritan woman.
Then also it's important to note that when the Jewish leaders went into, let's say, insult Jesus, they would call Him a Samaritan. That was their way of really putting someone down. Did we not rightly say that you're a Samaritan? It's that attitude. After destroying the north, then the king of Assyria, his name is Sennacherib, he turned his sights to Jerusalem. Now, here's the thing, if Assyria is successful in defeating Israel in the south, and they are the world power, and at this point Israel has quite been weakened in the course of years, by all accounts, it is impossible.
It is impossible that Judah in the south could be victorious against such a world-dominating power like Assyria but if they aren't successful, the entirety of the promises of God would come to an end. You know that God promised all of these things to Israel, based upon them being in that land. All of the promises are fulfilled by Israel being in that land. If they are dispersed, all of them come to not because you know that God also promised that through a seed of Abraham, through the children of Abraham would come one who would bless all the nations of the world.
We are here today as the recipient of that blessing because that is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, son of Abraham, and because of that great promise, we are together today out of the salvation that God has provided through that great promise. Amen? Amen. This is a pivotal moment in the history of Israel. Does Assyria succeed? They're the world-dominating power. How is it possible that Israel could stand up to them? That is the story as we look at now, 2 Kings 18, we begin in Verse 28. The story right here is that the king of Assyria has sent an official, his name is Sennacherib, to assault them with words.
The information campaign is always the first volley of a war. This is what's happening. Chapter 18 Verse 28. So Rabshakeh, that's his name, he stood out and he cried with a loud voice in Judean. He's outside the walls. He's calling out to everybody who's out there standing on the walls. Interestingly, just a few verses before this, the officials of Jerusalem said, "Don't use Judean. Use Aramaic." He said, "I'll speak Judean. I want these people to hear this." Because what he's trying to do will be revealed in the strategy. He called out in Judean.
"Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria. Thus says the king, 'Don't let Hezekiah deceive you. He will not be able to deliver you from my hand. Don't let Hezekiah make you trust in Jehovah, saying, "Oh, Jehovah will deliver us and the city will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria." Don't listen to Hezekiah.' For thus says, the king of Syria, 'Make your peace with me and come out to me. Come out, come out to me. Each one of you.'" Listen to these great promises he's making to them. "Come out to me and make your peace, and each one of you will have his own vine. Each one of you will have his own fig tree.
Each will drink the waters of his own sister. No, it will be so much better for you. Life will be good if you could just only come out and surrender. Don't worry about all those rumors about death and destruction, and cruelty. I want to bless you, don't you know? That is to say, until I come and take you away, but I'll take you away to a land that's like your own land. It's going to be a great thing, don't you know? If you just surrender to me, it's going to be a good thing for you. You'll have a land of grain and new wine in the land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live and not die.
Don't listen to Hezekiah. He misleads you saying, 'Oh, Jehovah will deliver us.' Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath or Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim and Hena, and Ivah? Were the gods of Samaria able to deliver from my hands? Samaria, Israel in the north? No. Who among all the gods of the lands has delivered the land from my hand, that Jehovah should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?" Verse 36. "But the people were silent, answered him not a word. For the king had given a commandment and the king's commandment was, 'Do not answer that man. Do not speak a word.'
Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, they came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and they told these words to him, the words of Rabshakeh." The story continues in chapter 19. When Hezekiah heard these words, he tore his clothes," which is again, a sign of deepest grief, he covered himself with sackcloth, and then he entered the house of the Lord. Now, this is the turning point in the history of Israel. Then he sent Eliakim, who was over the household with Shebna, the scribe, and the elders of the priests, also covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet.
Isaiah is a very famous prophet now in these days. The Spirit of the Lord gives him a prophetic, powerful word. Hezekiah sent these men to Isaiah. These men said to Isaiah, "Thus says Hezekiah, this day is a day of distress and rebuke, and rejection, for children who have come to the place of being born but there's no strength to deliver them. Perhaps the Lord your God will hear all these words of Rabshakeh, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to reproach the living God, and perhaps, he will rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard, therefore, offer a prayer for the remnant that is left."
So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. And Isaiah said to them, "Thus you shall say to your master, to Hezekiah, thus says Jehovah, do not be afraid because of these words, these words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him so that he will hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword there in his own land." Now, there's more to the story, which we're going to read. I want to stop here and review these things, and take hold of some tremendous important spiritual applications starting with this.
I. In a War of Words – Abide in the Truth
In a war of words, abide in the truth, the very powerful thing. See, the opening strategy of the king of Assyria is very straightforward. Drive a wedge in their faith. Let's start with that. Drive a wedge in their faith, and then strike fear in their hearts that they might surrender without a fight. Actually, many nations who had heard of the power and cruelty of Assyria decided that the best course was to surrender without a fight. This is what he hoped to accomplish. Drive a wedge, strike fear, let them surrender without a fight. I suggest to you that this is the same strategy that is employed in spiritual warfare today.
A. The enemy gives empty promises
We are living in times of tremendous spiritual warfare. There's a battle for the hearts and minds of people throughout this land, throughout the world even. The strategy of the enemy is that if he can drive a wedge in your faith, if he can strike fear in your heart, that you would surrender without a fight, then he would have a great victory. Would you notice some tremendous principles to take hold up from the story? Starting with this. The enemy gives empty promises. He strikes fear and then he answers that fear by these promises, and these promises are empty. "Come out to me if you just surrender. Life will be so much better, don't you know?
You'll have your own fig tree. You'll have your own cistern, much vineyard. The land that I will give you. All you have to do is come and surrender. I'll bless your life if you just give your life over to me." Is this not the same strategy that the enemy employs today? "Just come over to the world. That's where the real joyful living is. Come to the party. The party is wonderful. Don't worry about these stories of death and empty souls. No, I'll bless you." Promises, empty promises. Is this not the very same strategy the enemy used in the original sin of man there in the garden?
Going back to Genesis 3:4-6. The serpent said to the woman, "You will not die." See, remember what had happened. She said, "We are told not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for the day we eat of it, we shall die." The serpent said to the woman, "That's not true. That's not true. You will not die, surely not. For God knows that on the day that you eat from it, your eyes will be open. That's why He doesn't want that. Because He knows then that you will be like God. Oh, no, He doesn't want that to happen. He wants you to be subservient. No, eat, and then your eyes will open. You'll be like God knowing good and evil."
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, that's a strategy of the enemy right there, you can be sure. "It's a delight to the eyes, don't you know. How beautiful is this thing that I'm trying to promise you? Don't worry about the death behind it." She saw it was the delight to the eyes and that the tree was desirable to make one wise. She took from its fruit and she ate, and she gave to her husband with her, and he ate also. See what he did, he drove a wedge in her faith, making her doubt God's word, and then offered her something better.
"You can be like God, decide for yourselves what's good and evil. Why should God get to decide what's good and evil? You can be like God. You can decide for yourself. You can be the master of your own soul. You can be the captain of your own destiny." I'll tell you, many people have fallen for such a thing. To believe that they can be the master of their own soul is to choose a path of destruction. Because Israel was here in that land, all the promises of God were given to Israel because they were in that land that God gave them. If now they surrender and they are displaced, all of the promises come to not.
It's so important to recognize that God's promises are far better than anything that the enemy has to offer. If the enemy promises that he can make you happier, more satisfied in life, that you can have more fun, more joy, or more abundance, you need to see it for what it is, lies from the pit of hell. Anybody want to agree with me? Then you see the very same strategy that the enemy used with Jesus. When Jesus was tempted in the desert, this is Matthew 4:8-11. "Again, the devil took Jesus to a very high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory.
B. Sometimes silence is the best answer
Then he said to him, 'Look, all of these things I will give to you.'" Promises, great promises. "All you got to do is fall down and worship me. Just surrender to me and look at all that I will give to you." Jesus' response is an example for everyone today. "Be gone, Satan." Then He quoted the Word of God, "For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only." The devil left him, and behold, angels came and ministered to him. Great spiritual lessons for us. Then we see this lesson also out of the story. Sometimes silence is the best answer. Rabshakeh is using this strategy, trying to drive a wedge in their faith, trying to strike fear in their hearts.
It's also clear that Rabshakeh doesn't know what he's talking about. He's talking as if Hezekiah's reforms were a bad thing. "Did not Hezekiah take down the high places of Jehovah? Are you going to listen to this man?" No. Taking down the high places was part of the revival because they were called to worship God at the temple of the living God. There the glory of God would be revealed to them, not at the high places. He's bringing a revival. He's bringing a real revival. It's an interesting thing, the timing of Hezekiah's revival.
I'll tell you, the nation of Israel there that was seen in the south in Judah, there was a revival that has not been seen since the days of David. This is an amazing thing, authentic, genuine revival that's happening in the people of Israel now, because of the leadership of Hezekiah. I suggest to you that the timing of that revival is very important because God was preparing a people for the troubles yet to come. There was going to be trouble, trouble like they had never seen before in their history. God is preparing them by bringing a revival.
I suggest to you that God is doing a very similar thing today. For there is much trouble that is arising in this world. Those with spiritual discernment can sense what's happening in the nations, what's happening in the world. There's a spiritual darkness that's arising in the world. Yet God at the same time is stirring His people. There is a revival, God is stirring people. God is stirring this church, God is stirring this land. There is something that's happening because those with spiritual discernment can sense the urgency of the hour. Now is the time for revival, and let it be authentic, genuine revival as it was in Hezekiah's day.
He didn't know what he was saying. He claimed that Israel's downfall in the north was because Jehovah was weak. No, the downfall was because he turned away from Jehovah. He was wrong. What good would it do? Here's my question. What good would it do to have a debate with Rabshakeh? What good would it do to give Rabshakeh a lesson in the truth? Does he even value the truth? Would he be swayed if he heard the truth? The answer is no. The truth meant nothing to the enemy. Which brings forth a great spiritual lesson. Don't debate with someone who doesn't value the truth.
Let's use a modern example. What's happening today with Russia invading Ukraine. Now, if you've been observing what's been happening in the course of the last number of years, you know that Russia has inserted themselves in the affairs of many nations through a strategy of what could be called disinformation. Sowing discord, sowing discontent, sowing all manner of things to stir up a people to bring division and strife, disinformation. Now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, however, they don't want their own people knowing the truth, and so they've shut off all types of journalistic influences, trying to shut off their people from the truth.
In fact, maybe you've noticed, recently, the Russian parliament or the Duma has passed a law by which a person can be subject to 15 years imprisonment for using fake news, words such as war. If you even so much as tweet the word "invasion", you could be subject to arrest and imprisonment for 15 years. Interestingly, maybe you saw on the news, the foreign minister of Russia insisted that they did not attack Ukraine, to which people would say, "Then what are you doing there?" It's a great lesson. Don't debate with someone who doesn't value the truth.
Clearly, this is what got Eve in trouble there in the garden, where she started debating with the enemy regarding what is truth and what is not. Jesus had very clear words when it came to the enemy and the truth. This is out of John 8:44. You got to read the whole of John 8, it's an amazing chapter. John 8:44, He's referring to the enemy and He says, "He doesn't stand in the truth, because there's no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he's speaking from his own nature, for he's a liar and he's the father of lies." Hezekiah, therefore, told the people, "Answer him not a word."
C. The truth will set you free
It's great wisdom. Sometimes silence is the most powerful response to those who do not value the truth. You, you value the truth. Stand on the truth. Take hold of the truth, for the truth will set you free. Great spiritual principle. The truth will set you free, man. Rather than debating with an enemy who doesn't value the truth, he ran to the Lord. He asked God to rebuke these words. He ran to the Lord. That's the right thing, Proverbs 18:10, "The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are saved." It's a great principle of the Lord. It's a great, deeply spiritual point to impact the strength of faith.
See, lies have power only if you believe them. Turn to the Lord, take hold of the truth, the truth will set you free. John 8:31-32. Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, if you dwell, if you take hold of My word, you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." Later He says, "And he whom the Son sets free is free indeed." Here's another one out of Romans 10:17, "Faith comes from hearing. Faith is strengthened, faith is built from the hearing, and the hearing by the word of Christ," because He sends that word in power, He sends it by His Spirit. He will take hold of your soul, and He will strengthen the foundation, and the truth will set you free. Truth is powerful.
II. Set it Before the Lord
Then, would you go back to now, 2 Kings 19, and let's read the rest of the story because it's really quite amazing. What had happened was, picking the story up where we left off, Rabshakeh had to leave the scene and go help the king of Syria on another conflict and battle. What he did then was to send a letter to continue the assault, to continue attacking, to drive a wedge, to continue insulting the God of Israel. They pick it up in chapter 19:14, where Hezekiah receives this letter. We're going to read certain sections of this and of course, during the Wednesday service, that's where we'll go verse by verse through all of the rest of it.
Would you notice now, Hezekiah, he takes this letter, this missive, you might call it a missile of an assault, an attack of faith, insulting Jehovah, Hezekiah took this letter from the hand of the messengers, he read it. Then would you notice this, I love this scene right here, monumentally significant in the history of Israel. He receives this letter, reads it, and then he went up to the house of the Lord, and He spread it out before the Lord, as if to say, "Read this. Would you read what this man is saying about you?" He spreads it all out, "Read this, God." Then he prays.
This prayer, monumental, significant, turning point in the history of Israel. Verse 15, "Hezekiah then prayed before the Lord and he said this, 'Oh, Lord, God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God.'" Would you notice how the prayer begins, by the way? Honor, respect, give glory to His name. That's a right way to pray. To recognize Him, to give Him honor, to give Him glory. It's the right thing to set your heart before Him in a right place. "Oh, Jehovah, God of Israel, who art enthroned above the cherubim, You are God, You alone of all the kingdoms of the earth, You alone have made heaven and earth.
Incline your ear, oh Lord, and hear. Open your eyes, oh Lord, and see, and listen to these words of this Sennacherib which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, oh Lord, the kings of Assyria have devastated nations and lands, and they've cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods at all but the work of men's hands, wood and stone, and they have destroyed them. Now, oh Lord, oh Lord, our God, I pray, deliver us." Now this is a great prayer. "Oh Lord, I pray, deliver us. Deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are Lord, and that You alone are God."
A. God is pleased with sincere prayer
What a great prayer is this. Then Isaiah, the great prophet, there in Jerusalem, instead of Amos, he's sending word to Hezekiah. He says, "Thus says Jehovah, the God of Israel, because you have prayed, because you have prayed to me about this Sennacherib, king of Assyria, I have heard you. This is the word that the Lord has spoken against that man, against Sennacherib. 'She has despised you and mocked you, oh virgin daughter of Zion.'" Now, by the way, that's an interesting way to refer to Israel. "Oh virgin daughter of Zion." It's actually very beautiful.
It's a beautiful way of calling His people, a pure people. He said, "Wait, wait, wait, wait, is this the same Judah that had gone after the Asherim, and that brought the idols of Baal even into the temple, what now?" Yes, this is an amazing declaration of God. Because when they brought their hearts to Him in revival, when they repented of all that they had done, and they came before the Lord, God restored them, God renewed them, and even called them something very beautiful, "Oh, virgin daughter of Zion." How beautiful is this? See, this is important to recognize the beautiful heart of God.
He will restore. He will take you back. Many people have ruined their lives with all manner of living, but when they repent, when they come, God will restore, God will make your life beautiful again. So you believe it? He'll make your life beautiful again. Then it continues, verse 22, "Whom have you reproached? Of whom have you blasphemed, and against whom have you raised your voice and heartedly lifted up your eyes? it's against the Holy One of Israel."
Now, move down to verse 27, "But I know you're sitting down. I know you're going out and you're coming in, and I know you're raging against me, and because of you're raging against Me, and because of the arrogance that has come up to My ears, I will put my hook in your nose, and I will put a bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way in which you came." In other words, the intervening Hand of God, He is sovereign over the nations, He is sovereign over kings, and He says, "I hear you're raging, I will put a hook in your nose, and I will drag you back."
Notice then, move over to verse 33, "By the way that He came is the same He shall return, and He shall not come to this city, declares the LORD Jehovah, for I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for the sake of my servant, David. Then it happened that night," Now verse 35 is absolutely epic in the history of Israel. "It happened that night that the angel of the Lord went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians, and when men arose in the next morning, behold, all of them were dead." You want to talk about the intervening Hand of God? This is the intervening Hand of God.
Do you believe that the intervening of hand of God still moves? This is so important to take hold of for faith to believe that the intervening of hand of God is still moving today in our lives. Sennacherib, King of Assyria departed, returned home and lived in Nineveh. It came about that as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch, his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, his own sons, killed him with the sword, and they escaped into the land of Ararat, and Essarhaddon, his son, became king in his place. The youngest son. Intervening Hand of God, what a story is this. Great lessons for us to take hold of, starting with this.
I love when Hezekiah takes his letter, and he lays it all out before the Lord. Great principle right there, set it out, set it before the Lord. You have troubles? You have concerns, conflicts, difficulties? Set it out. Lay it all out. Look, God, see, see. In the detail of laying it out there is asking God to intervene. God, with your intervening hand, I lay it out before you. Then he prays. What a prayer is this. Here's the spiritual point, God is pleased with sincere prayer. What a wonderful example of simplicity, power, humble. Then he says in verse 20, "Because you have prayed about this, you set it out, you prayed about this, I've heard you."
In other words, this is right. This is exactly right. This is what you do. Then it tells us earlier that he put on sackcloth. Again, this is a picture of deepest humility. Literally it's a sack of a cloth from which they make sacks. They would cut a hole for the head and the arms and fold it over them. It's an outward symbol of deep humility. Question, does God honor outward symbols? I suggest to you that He does, when the heart is sincere behind it. See, an outward symbol that represents a sincere heart is quite beautiful to the Lord because of the heart that is behind it.
Now, if there is no heart behind it, if it's just an outward symbol, that would be called empty religion. Symbols that are empty because there's no heart behind it are empty. Notice Isaiah 29:13, another place in time where Isaiah sends a word to help the people to understand this very thing. He says to them in Isaiah 29:13, "Then the Lord says this, because these people, they draw near with their words and they honor Me with their lip service, but their hearts are far from Me. The reverence forming consists of tradition." They just say some things that they memorized. They memorized a few things, and they repeat those few things.
That's the reverence? I love what is happening in this church right now. There is something amazing. There is something genuine. There is something authentic that God is doing in this church right now. Maybe some of you were at this recent worship and prayer night we had, let me just tell you, it was a beautiful thing. The church was worshiping. God delights to see a people, authentic, genuine worship.
The prayer, the concert of prayer that was put forth that night is several times. Oh, is it beautiful to pray when there's a genuine, sincere heart that's moving before the throne of the living God. It's beautiful to the Lord. I love what God is doing. That which is authentic and genuine. God will bless. That is what God wants to do in this church, in this city, and in this land. God is moving in power. Amen? Let's give the Lord praise for what He's doing. Absolutely.
Notice Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart, you will not despise. No, He'll find it beautiful." James 4:6, He gives a greater grace. It says, ''God is opposed to the proud. God resist the proud but gives grace to the humble." The intervening hand of God. The favor of God is poured out on that which is authentic and genuine. He'll give greater grace to it.' Matthew 23:12, "Whoever exalts himself, will be humbled. Whoever humbles himself will be exalted." God will lift him up. God will give honor to the one who honors God.
B. Prayer availeth much
He'll pour his intervening hand and his favor on their life. Sennacherib's arrogance brought him down. Shook his fist against the living God, and so God says, I hear your raging against me. I'll put a hook in your nose, and I'll drag you back from where you came." Then you see this, in three minutes, we'll close with this principle, and that's a very important principle to take hold of because it goes right along with it. That is that prayer availeth much. I'm using the King James there. I just love the way it sounds. Prayer availeth much. It's a deep aspect of living faith to believe it.
It's very effective, in other words. Notice James 5:16, "The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." Doesn't that make you want to pray? Doesn't it inspire you to recognize the power. It's very effective and accomplishes much. Prayer availeth much is such a deep important aspect of faith that I'm just asking the church to take hold of this great truth. To believe that the intervening hand of God still moves, for we are living in times of trouble, and there will be greater troubles arising in the earth. For it tells us in Ephesians 6:12, our struggle is not against flesh and blood.
It's against rulers, powers, against world forces of, darkness against spiritual forces that wickedness any places. This is spiritual battle. 2 Corinthians 10:3-4. "Though we walk in the flesh," in this physical realm, "we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh. They are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses." The intervening hand of God. 185,000 fell in one night. The entire history of the world turned on that one event. God's hands still move in power. The intervening hand of God is still powerful today.
Will you trust Him? That which is authentic and genuine, a real faith, God will honor. Let's pray. Father, thank you. How beautiful are these principles of Your heart that You reveal, that the intervening hand of God still moves. God, that we can trust you with our lives. Church, as we're today before the throne of the living God, I want to ask this question, do you have concerns, troubles? Lay 'em down, lay 'em out. Set them out before the Lord. God, I trust you with these concerns. I trust you with the troubles of my life. I know, I believe that the intervening hand of God still moves. God, I'm asking you to move. I'm asking You to undertake these concerns that I have.
I'm laying them out. I'm asking, God, because I believe that the intervening hand of God's the most-- Church, would you say that to the Lord? Is that your heart, your prayer? Would you say that to the Lord by just simply lifting of your hand to the Lord? Why don't you just say it? It's a prayer. It's a way of saying, "God, I'm laying them out. I'm setting them down before you. I believe in the intervening hand of God. I'm asking, God that you would move in power. Reveal Yourself now through these things." God, we love You, we thank You, and honor You for all that You're doing in our lives. In Jesus' name, and everyone said?