The Assyrian challenge had a troubling effect on the people of Judah. Their threats were backed up by a record of their victories that could not be denied. They came with their words set to mock Yahweh and intimidate and humiliate the people.
Hezekiah’s initial response was to get the voice of the Lord on the matter. That initial response got a word of consolation from God only for the Assyrians to come back again with another taunt and threat to make Judah follow the line of cities that had fallen for the power of Assyria.
When this message reached Hezekiah, he took the matter himself to the Lord and his prayer shows much to learn from. First Hezekiah reminded God of who He was, then He highlighted the record of Assyria, but his tone changed after outlining the facts of Assyria to pointing out the truth of who God is. His request at the end was not about self-preservation, His request was for the glory of God to have an impact around the nations.
God’s response through the prophet Isaiah puts everything in perspective. Assyria had messed with the wrong God. They had messed with the Holy One of Israel. They thought their achievements were self-willed, not understanding their fate was always in God’s hand. The same hand that raised them would be the same hand that would bring them down. (There’s also a fascinating insight into God’s commitment to ensure a remnant remains – planted and fruitful.)
It’s one thing for the Word of God to declare He Himself will defend His people, it’s even more remarkable to see how that word is fulfilled. The devastating defeat of the Assyrian perpetuated by God Himself was such a routing that even the Assyrian King had to take the hint, return the way he came to face his own fatal end to fulfil the Word of consolation God had given to Hezekiah in the initial response.
This astounding victory yet again proved to the world that the God of Israel is the one true and living God, Creator of heaven and earth. When we find ourselves bullied by various forces looking to ridicule our God, intimidate, belittle and humiliate us, we don’t need to take up any physical weaponry, we don’t have to look to outgun the enemy. We need to remember where those threats need to be turned over to. We need to remember who has the bigger perspective on the matter. We need to be reassured of who we belong to and whose honour and glory is at stake.
When we remember these truths the facts of the adversary wither and triumph for God is once more assured.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden