Last night, I received a call that someone had to be taken to the hospital. That was not a good thing. But from what I have heard since then, things are going better and the issue was addressed before it got too bad. Things like that are never good to hear. But at the same time, they give us the opportunity to take our fears and concerns to the Lord. It is when we do that, that we learn some valuable lessons. This is what happened to King Hezekiah when the Rabshakeh announced what King Sennacherib was going to do to the people in Jerusalem. As we continue our reading of the story in 2 Kings 19, we will see how the king responded and what lessons he learned from the Lord.
- What do we learn from Hezekiah?
He understood the gravity of the situation (2 Kings 19:1a).
When the three officials reported the Rabshakeh’s words to King Hezekiah, he immediately knew how bad things were. As you may recall, the Rabshakeh was the spokesman for the army that was parked outside of Jerusalem. His words to Hezekiah’s three officials had been announced loud enough for the people on the wall to hear. He told the people that surrendering to Sennacherib was their best situation and that they had no chance of surviving otherwise. Their choices were to either starve in the city or to surrender and be relocated to another country.
Hezekiah’s response to the Rabshakeh makes it clear that this was no idle threat. While Hezekiah had been able to rebel against Assyria for a short period, all of his allies had been subjugated. To make matters worse, Assyria had conquered all the fortified cities in Judah. Jerusalem was the only city still standing and it soon would fall under the might of the great Assyrian army. With all of this in mind, Hezekiah’s emotions caused him to tear his clothes and cover himself with sackcloth.
He understood who could help him (2 Kings 19:1b).
Notice that Hezekiah didn’t just wallow in his emotions. Instead, he went into the house of the Lord. What exactly does this mean? I don’t know the exact layout of the temple at this point, but it was bigger than the old tabernacle. There were pillars and walls and rooms. So, Hezekiah was not going inside the part of the temple reserved only for the priests. He was just going to the place where he could be closest to God.
This shows that Hezekiah was someone who was seeking the Lord for help. He knew that his options were severely limited, if not totally exhausted. So, he went to the one place where he felt closest to God—the temple. But he didn’t go there because of the temple. He went there because of God.
He understood the need for prayer to God (2 Kings 19:2-4).
While he was in the temple, Eliakim, Shebna, and the elders of the priests were sent to talk with the prophet Isaiah. Dressed in sackcloth, they gave Isaiah the king’s message. The message included three things: (1) a description of the problem, (2) the reproach to God, and (3) a plea for prayer to God for those who were left. I would imagine that the messengers said more than what is recorded here. Eliakim and Shebna had heard the Rabshakeh personally. They could have told Isaiah all that had been said. And they probably did. But they would have concluded their report with what Hezekiah had sent them to say: (1) Things are bad. (2) God has been dishonored. (3) Pray for us.
This shows that Hezekiah saw the need for prayer to God. Somehow the Almighty God listens to our prayers and then answers them according to His will. Although He is Sovereign over everything and had His own will, He still calls upon people to pray. Think of God’s response to Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple.
2 Chron 7:13-14 – “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
God does respond to our prayers. And when we pray, He sometimes chooses to do something that we ourselves could never accomplish by ourselves. I think it is important to note that God is not our servant who does what every we want. But at the same time, He tells us to pray and responds to our prayers.
He understood God’s promises (2 Kings 19:5-7).
When Hezekiah’s men met with Isaiah, he sent them back with a message for the king. He told the king (1) that he should not be afraid of the Rabshakeh’s words, (2) that He knew they had blasphemed Him, and (3) that Sennacherib would hear a rumor, return to his land, and be killed there. All of this would be done according to God’s plan. How was that for an answer to prayer? Just as they arrived, while the king was praying, the message was already ready for his messengers.
When the messengers arrived, all was dark and dismal. But when they heard God’s promises, they knew that God was going to do something special. What a time of rejoicing this must have been when the messengers reported God’s promises to the praying king.
- What does his response teach us?
We must always remember that God can help.
Do you remember the chorus, He Is Able? The words of that song would have been appropriate for Hezekiah and his messengers that day.
He is able He is able I know He is able
I know my God is able to carry me through
He is able He is able I know He is able
I know my God is able to carry me through
No matter how dark the day seems to be, we must always remember that God is able to help. I just heard that a friend’s cancer has returned. That is not a good thing but God is still able to help. Oftentimes, the emotions of bad situations well up inside of us and cause us to forget that God is there. Thankfully, my friend is taking it well and is rejoicing in the Lord day by day. We may not know what God will do, but we know what He can do. That should lead us to seek His help in every situation.
We must always remember to pray.
In the New Testament, Jesus taught that “men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Paul told us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). When we are faced with something that is overwhelming, we ought to pray to God. Our confidence in God’s ability to help and His continuous command for us to pray to Him should lead us to pray more than worry. As we pray, we give our concerns to the Lord and He often replaces them with “the peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:6-7). So, don’t forget to pray. God wants to hear from you and has the ability to help.
We must remember God’s promises.
Have you ever considered how God’s promises can assist you when you are praying? There are times when we don’t know what God wants to do or what He will do. But there are other times when we can look into the Bible and see that God’s will is very plain. For instance, when we are praying for God to provide for our needs, we can go to Matthew 6:33.
Matt. 6:31-33 – “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Since God has promised to provide for our needs as we seek His kingdom and righteousness, we know that our needs will be met under those conditions. So, seek His ways and expect God to provide as you are obedient to His commands.
2 Pet. 3:9 – “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
While there are some theological disagreements about this verse, it is a good one to pray back to God as you are praying for those who do not know the Lord. Because God is longsuffering, doesn’t want people to perish, and wants them to come to repentance, we can pray with confidence for the lost. God wants to save people. This is true. Will all be saved? No, but God’s concern for the world is something that should drive us to pray for people.
As we go to prayer tonight, let us consider some of the lessons we have learned tonight. We should remember that God is able to help. This should help us when feeling overwhelmed. We should always remember to pray. This is something that God wants us to do and it has been a help to many over the years. We should remember God’s promises as we pray. This will help to increase our confidence in God and to know what His will is about our prayers. As we incorporate these things into our prayers, we will find that our faith in God will be strengthened and we will see God working in our lives in a greater way.