In my Bible reading plan, I was to read Acts 3, 2 Corinthians 7, Jeremiah 28 and Isaiah 36 for the day. When I got to the end of Isaiah 36, I thought: “Hmm … I wonder what happens next.”
One king (Sennacherib of Assyria) had sent his guys (a field commander and a large army) to another king’s (Hezekiah of Judah) guys and basically said, “Let’s make a deal – we’re going to wipe you out anyway, so quit basing your confidence on your king’s message that the Lord will deliver the city; he won’t. So come and make peace with us and then we will take you to a place where you will have plenty and not have to experience the hardship of what will come from battle.”
I wrote this in my margin in summary of Chapter 36. The people heard a threatening message. They also heard a promise … if they gave in – or surrendered, the threat would be removed. I had to read the next chapter.
The Cliffs Notes of my extended reading are that King Hezekiah heard this, tore his clothing, put on sackcloth (as a sign of great distress) and went into the temple of the Lord. This intrigued me because there are so many kings in the Old Testament that don’t inquire of the Lord. I discovered there had not been a king go to the temple and pray to the Lord in about 250 years. Now I was really paying attention; I wanted to know more about this king.
He then sent his guys to Isaiah, the prophet, and asked him to pray. Margin notes I added at this point are: 1) Go to the Lord; 2) Seek Godly counsel; 3) Ask for prayer.
There are more threats that come to the king through messengers and a letter. With the threats, they also give evidence of what is to come; they name the countries that have already been destroyed, the kings who are no more, and they ask about the gods of the destroyed nations. (Indicating those gods weren’t of much help.)
Here is what I love about Hezekiah: He read the letter and then he went up to the temple of the Lord, spread it out before the Lord, then prayed to the Lord. Let this sink in – the king didn’t go to his army; he didn’t rally the people; he went to his God, who is unseen, and spread it all out before him and prayed. Pause. Margin note: Lay it all out before the Lord and pray.
He asks God to give his ear and his eyes to what is going on. He acknowledges the truth and severity of the threats but also the truth that the other gods were fabricated of wood and stone made by human hands. Then he asks God to deliver them from the hand of King Sennacherib – so that all the kingdoms would know the Lord, the only God.
God sends a message to King Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah and it begins with this, “Because you have prayed to me concerning …” Margin note: Prayer matters!
I continued reading on through Chapter 38. Hezekiah is ill and is at the point of death. He “turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord …” In verse 5 God sends a message again through Isaiah and in part says, “I have heard your prayer and seen your tears …” Margin note: Prayer matters.
I just had to share about this reading. These are my overall takeaways:
•I have felt threatened – if even in my heart – and there have been whispers of promises that began with, just surrender … it’ll be easier of you do. This hardship will pass if you just give in.
This is when it would be time to go and turn to God – even if I haven’t in a long time.
•Seek godly counsel.
•Ask for prayer.
•Lay it all out before the Lord. Ask for his eye and his ears. Ask not for selfish reasons but for a result that will make God known and bring him glory.
Prayer matters. When I am praying for my daughter away at college, it matters. When I pray for friends who come to my mind – people suffering with illness with no relief – the prayers matter. I don’t have a prophet coming and telling me the result of my prayers, but I have faith in what is unseen. When there is nothing I can do, there is. Pray.