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Just dropping by ... Hezekiah’s Prayer

Yevet Tenney for Progressive Dairy Published on 31 October 2019

Lately, I have been studying the book of Isaiah. I love that book because every time I read it, poetic treasures spring from its pages and I understand their significance for our day. This time was no different. I found a treasure in Isaiah’s account of King Hezekiah.

According to the Bible, Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz, the 12th king of Judah, and began his reign about 700 years before the birth of Christ. He was a man of faith who placed his trust in the Lord as well as in the Lord’s servant, the prophet. It would be nice to have more government leaders like him today.

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In the 14th year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, sent his messenger, Rabshakeh, to the kingdom of Judah to convince the people to surrender and join him. Rabshakeh chided the people for their belief in God and threatened them with destruction. He was confident because he had taken other cities and thought he could easily conquer Judah, but he wanted them to surrender without a fight.

Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jewish language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria.
—Isaiah 36:13 KJV

Rabshakeh proceeded to undermine the word of Hezekiah and to mock the faith of the people. Basically, he said, “Don’t trust in your king or the Lord. They can’t deliver you from the king of Assyria. Trust the king of Assyria instead.”

Make an agreement with (him) by a present, and come out to me: and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern; Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards.
—Isaiah 36:17 KJV

He promised them 2,000 horses if they could find riders for them. The words of Rabshakeh rang with the clarion sound of socialism. “Come, I will give you free things, and everyone will be rich.” Fair promises laden with deceit and traps. It is certain the king of Assyria did not intend to make the people of Judah free. He had shown his intent in conquering other cities. He wanted power, and he didn’t care how he obtained it.

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When … king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD. HE sent a letter to Isaiah and Isaiah responded. Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard.
—Isaiah 31:1 KJV

Hezekiah went immediately to the house of the Lord to confirm what the prophet had told him was true. His prayer is recorded, and it is a pattern for all of us who seek answers from the Lord. His prayer was not a grocery list of “I want” or “I need.” It was more of a negotiation.

And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth.
—2 Kings 19:15 KJV

Hezekiah recognized the Lord for his greatness and humbly asked him to listen.

Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God. Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.
—Isaiah 37:15-19 KJV

Hezekiah spelled out his problem before the Lord in detail and asked the Lord’s help with the plea that, if he helped him, the Lord would be known throughout the earth. In other words, Hezekiah would spread the news of the Lord’s greatness.

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Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only.
—Isaiah 37:20 KJV

Isaiah gave Hezekiah the Lord’s answer:

Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria … Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it … I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake …
—Isaiah 37:33,35 KJV

The Lord kept his promise and sent an angel to kill a “hundred and fourscore and five thousand” or 185,000 soldiers of the king of Assyria. The account doesn’t say how the angel accomplished the task, but the soldiers didn’t wake up in the morning.
Later, King Hezekiah faced another trial of his faith. Isaiah came to him and told him to prepare for death.

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet … came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die …
—Isaiah 38:1 KJV

Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight …
—Isaiah 38:2-3 KJV

Hezekiah reminded the Lord that he had been a righteous king and had followed his commandments. Again, we see a person in humility, negotiating with the Lord, with the collateral of his past loyalty and faithfulness.

Then came the word of the LORD to Isaiah, saying, Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD … I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years. And I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria: and I will defend this city.
—Isaiah 38:5 KJV

In other words, the Lord said, “I have heard your prayers and will add another 15 years to your life, and I will defend your city against Assyria. Not only that, I will bless you with a sign that my words are true. I will make the shadow on the sundial go back 10 degrees.” What a miracle.

In response to the Lord’s great blessing, Hezekiah said, Everyone …

shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth. The LORD was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the LORD …”
—Isaiah 38:19-20 KJV

Hezekiah made his promise to the Lord that he would continue to serve and praise him all the days of his life.
One of the great truths in the Bible is true today:

When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.
—Proverbs 29:2 KJV

Leaders have the power to bring a nation into times of prosperity or bring them down to bondage. We see it clearly in the ebb and flow of the economy and security of our nation. As the nation’s leaders move further and further away from God’s laws, the more precarious our situation becomes.

We need leaders like Hezekiah who will fall on their knees and negotiate with the Lord on our behalf. The Lord will fight our battles.

God can work miracles. He has angels on the earth and angels in heaven, at His command, who can smite the soldiers of wickedness with destruction, but He waits for us to grow in faith to believe Him.

He waits for us to grow in the spirit of goodness, so we have collateral of righteousness with which to negotiate. The Lord is waiting for us and our leaders to turn to Him, so none can say, “Look at me; I did it all myself.” The Lord wants our loyalty. He wants to bless us even as He did Hezekiah with signs and wonders beyond our comprehension.  end mark

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