Assyria were on a roll. Their successes had seen them defeat a string of nations including the northern kingdom of Israel.
Meanwhile Judah had a new king. The previous king Ahaz had been a wicked king disobeying God and worshipping foreign gods even sacrificing one of his sons. His successor, Hezekiah was a complete contrast.
Hezekiah established a new standard of righteous rule that was not to be bettered by any of his successors. Indeed his commitment to God saw radical religious reformation that even saw an end to worship in the high places that other good kings had previously condoned. God recognised this devotion and responded by granting success to Hezekiah in his exploits.
Despite this, it was the Assyrians in the ascendancy, even Hezekiah had to pay a significant amount of the wealth of Jerusalem to Assyria after they took over some fortified places in Judah. That exercise of power was not enough for Assyria.
The messenger of their King approached Jerusalem with an audacious challenge. Simply put the challenge was to stop listening to Hezekiah and give in to the Assyrians. The basis of the boast was their track record of pulverising the people and the gods of all they had come across to that point. As a result they were confident of thrashing Judah. The challenge, thrown down in the language of Judah’s inhabitants, was specifically designed for intimidation. It involved even referring to the God of Judah actually having sent them to be about the business of crushing Judah.
This message was not taken lightly. It certainly had an effect in getting those who received the message to respond in returning to Hezekiah with torn clothing, a sign of deep distress.
Often the challenge that is laid out against God’s people can be hugely intimidating. The threat can hit home to the greatest degree because of the seemingly immense power of the adversary. This can and does happen even to the most upright of God’s people.
What do we do when the threat is real? What do we do when options appear limited? What do we do when even our trusted friends are clearly shaken up by the threat?
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden