15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord:16 “Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.
18 “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands.19 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 20 Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God.”
Chapters 36 and 37 give an account of a crisis during the reign of King Hezekiah. The Assyrians, whom we know from history to have been a strong and ruthless people, were attacking the people of Israel. An emissary from the Assyrian king, Sennacherib, came to Jerusalem and mocked Hezekiah for trusting in God, instead of bowing down to the Assyrians and making peace with them.
King Hezekiah put on sackcloth as a sign of his distress and came to the Temple to pray. He prayed in faith, for he believed God could deliver them. God’s power was stronger than the Assyrians, as strong as they were. Hezekiah heard an answer from the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, telling Hezekiah that Jerusalem would be spared. God would defend the city and save it for the sake of Hezekiah’s ancestor, King David. King Hezekiah’s faithfulness allowed Jerusalem to remain safe for a while.
We too face crises of one sort or another; some are even life-threatening. We too have to choose whether to hold fast to our faith in God’s power to bring deliverance, or whether we will give in to despair and hopelessness. Hezekiah held the fate of his entire people in his hands, by whether he gave in to the Assyrians or not. How difficult a decision for him to maintain his trust in God despite the armies at his very door! May we also be reminded that God’s strength is there for us, no matter how difficult the crisis we have to face.
Remind me, Lord, that your great strength has not diminished over the passage of years. Your power made evident in biblical accounts like these from Isaiah is the same power you hold today as we show forth our trust in you. You know what we face this day, the challenges and the temptations that could rob us of faith. Cast your protection over us; keep us sheltered in your loving arms, that we may withstand whatever difficulties are before us. This we pray in your strong name, through Christ our Lord. Amen.