Isaiah 37:14b “…and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord.”
Observation: The King of Assyria was on a rampage to conquer every tribe and nation within reach. Preceding chapters recounted his numerous victories, and now he was bringing his intimidating tactics against Judah’s good King Hezekiah, sending messengers to Hezekiah with a threatening letter that lists other kingdoms he’s wiped out, and warning Hezekiah to “not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria” (v. 10). Hezekiah’s response was to go “to the house of the Lord and spread it (the letter) before the Lord.”
Application: How easy it would have been for Hezekiah to cower in fear before Assyria’s threatened onslaught…to break into a cold sweat with night after night of sleepless turning. Don’t I do that? Has the enemy of my soul not been able to capture territory in my own heart and mind that can cause me to shrink in fear and trembling? It seems I have my own personal Assyrian king who comes to me with a litany of approaching dooms: financial collapse, broken relationships, sundering of freedoms…the list is long and creative in its ability to strike fear.
But Hezekiah responded well. He went to his prayer closet and laid before the Lord everything that struck fear, every intended diminishment and evil threat. As Assyria’s king leveled bombast and threats, Hezekiah’s response was to tear his clothes, cover himself with sackcloth and retreat into God’s presence. He then sent for Isaiah who assured him of God’s deliverance (v. 7).
It would be nice if I had a personal Isaiah to turn to when my heart encounters my own Assyrians. A counterpoint voice of assurance would be so welcome in such times…an Isaiah who would assure me of Assyria’s defeat.
In fact I do have a personal Isaiah. He says things like, “Do not be afraid.” “Come to Me and I will give you rest.” “Lay your burdens down.” “Trust Me.” “I am able.” Yet I admit to still sleeplessly soaking my pillow with sweat and tears.
Hezekiah proactively did two things worth mimicking. First, he admitted his utter dependence upon God, pictured by tearing his clothes and covering himself in sackcloth. While sackcloth is in short supply today, perhaps confession, self-denial and fasting would suffice as places to start. But then he did the second important thing: he went into the Lord’s presence and exercised the same divine exchange that I am able to do if only I will. He laid all his burdens before the Lord and left them there. The Word doesn’t say that he later took the Assyrian’s letter back to the castle archives. Instead he gave it all, proactively, purposefully, to the only One who could help, exchanging His sackcloth and fears for the immutable assurance of the Lord’s deliverance.
Prayer: Father, thank You for the good example of Hezekiah. Assyrians will always threaten, yet You promise to overcome them all. Cause me to be quick to admit when calamity seems poised to overwhelm, and in those moments to turn to You. I choose to lay my burdens at the foot of the Cross and to put on Your new life. What a great exchange! In Jesus’ name, Amen.