Question: What do you do when there is bad news? What is your first reaction? How do you feel when your life is threatened? What if the situation seems hopeless? And you feel helpless? What if even though you were a king – a man of position and power, the situation seems dire and really serious?
King Hezekiah was in this situation. The powerful Assyrian King Sennacherib just threatened to invade Israel. He was successful in conquering all neighboring nations. Read Isaiah 36. If you were in Hezekiah’s shoes, how would you feel if a foreign powerful king threatened to attack your country after his success with other nations around you? What would you do? Make peace with your enemy? Try to persuade him to be your ally instead? Get a stronger ally to help you fight him? But there was none!
The Assyrian empire was at its peak – the king boasted: Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? And when have they delivered Samaria from my hand? 20 Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the LORD would deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’” (Isaiah 36:18-20)
So what did Hezekiah do?
He mourned. He put on sackcloth. He went to the house of the Lord (v.1).
He convened his leaders and officials of his court and sent word to Isaiah (v.2)
What did he say to Isaiah? (v.3-4)
‘This day is a day of distress, rebuke and rejection; for children have come to birth, and there is no strength to deliver. 4 Perhaps the LORD your God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard. Therefore, offer a prayer for the remnant that is left.’”
Hezekiah acknowledged that there was trouble. He also saw a greater problem behind the attack on his country – an attack on the living God. The Assyrian king insulted his God.
He asked for help – not from his enemy; not from his neighboring countries; not from outside strength. He asked Isaiah to pray. Hezekiah asked help from God.
What did Hezekiah do? He presented the letter of his enemy before God – the letter that contained the threat and the insult. He went to the Lord with his concern and prayed. What did he say? Isaiah 37 tells us
14 Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. 15 Hezekiah prayed to the LORD saying, 16 “O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and listen to all the words of Sennacherib, who sent them to reproach the living God. 18 Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have devastated all the countries and their lands,19 and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. 20 Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, LORD, are God.”
Prayer points to learn from:
1) Object of his prayer: God What did he know of God? v. 15
a) Who is God? God is Lord, He is God of Israel.
b) Where is He? Enthroned above the cherubim. Powerful reigning God of all the kingdoms of the earth.
c) What He did? He made heaven and earth. Everything in it – including the powerful kings of the earth – King Sennacherib even.
2) Purpose of his prayer: What did he ask God to do? v. 16
a) Listen: incline His ear: listen carefully, attentively and hear.
b) Look: Open His eyes to see what has happened.
What? Listen and look at how Sennacherib insulted You!
Again, it’s about You, God!
3) Concern of his prayer: What was the reality? v.17-18
Hezekiah knew the gravity of the problem. It was a reality to face. Yes, it is true what happened – Assyrian empire is powerful. They conquered nations. It is also true that their gods were manmade gods of wood and stone – which was why they were destroyed because they were uselessly dead stuffs.
4) Object of his prayer: GOD Why should God answer his prayer? v.19
Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand THAT all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, LORD, are God.”
Bottom line: Prayer is all about God – who God is, what He does, what He did, what He will do SO THAT all creation (His created beings) will KNOW that He ALONE, is LORD GOD.