Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 226

Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Hezekiah continued...

2 Kings 19:15-19, “Then Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: ‘O Lord God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands – wood and stone. Therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O Lord our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord God, You alone.”

From the reading of the text a handful of questions spring to mind. Who was this Sennacherib? What did he threaten Hezekiah with? How did his words reproach the living God? Was Hezekiah’s fear warranted?

In order to understand why Hezekiah prayed the prayer he did, we must understand the predicament he found himself in, as well as his inability to remedy the situation on his own. Most often, context sheds light on why an individual did a certain thing, on why they chose a certain path, and why they proceeded to do what they did.

Sennacherib was the king of Assyria, at the time a true power which had already invaded Israel, as well as Judah. Seeing as he could not defeat Sennacherib and his armies, Hezekiah sent word to him desiring a truce, and was willing to pay handsomely for it.

Although his heart was in the right place, Hezekiah had as yet not learned the valuable lesson of not bargaining with evil. Whenever we attempt to bargain with the enemy, whenever we try to find common ground, the enemy will always go back on his word, and ask for even more concessions from us.

The Assyrians demanded a tariff consisting of both gold and silver amounting to the equivalent of forty million dollars today. Since Hezekiah did not possess that kind of gold or silver, he took all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and even stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord and from the pillars which he himself had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria.

Hezekiah hoped to pacify Sennacherib, but his hopes were dashed when an emissary was sent demanding Jerusalem be turned over if peace was to be had.

One of the greatest lessons we can learn from Sennacherib’s actions – because our ever present enemy acts in much the same manner – is that there can be no armistice or truce between ourselves and the darkness.

Throughout the ages men have tried to come to an agreement with the darkness. They have tried to come to an understanding with sin and the enemy of our souls, and every time they got the short end of the stick. Every time they thought they had an understanding, every time they thought they’d struck an agreement, the enemy came back to the bargaining table demanding more, not content with the concessions already agreed upon.

If you give the enemy a finger he will want a hand, if you give him a hand he will want an arm, if you give him an arm he will want your upper torso, and so it goes until nothing is left and all has been surrendered.

Godly as Hezekiah was, well intentioned as he might have been seeking the safety of his people, he began to bargain with the enemy, and with each concession he made the enemy only wanted more.

Unlike many a soul today, Hezekiah had the presence of mind to say no and refuse Sennacherib’s request when he realized it would never end. If he would have given up Jerusalem, it was only a matter of time before Sennacherib asked for the whole of Judah, and step by step Hezekiah and his people would have become subjects of the Assyrians.

The Assyrians had known so many victories that they had grown self-assured, and in their darkened hearts they began to mock the God if Israel. The messenger who had been sent by Sennacherib took it upon himself to remind the people of Judah that though Hezekiah will insist the Lord would deliver them, they ought not to listen to him, but attempt to make peace by agreeing to his terms.

Even before Hezekiah was able to encourage the people and remind them of the faithfulness of their God, the enemy attempted to sow doubt in their hearts and cause them to waiver in their faith.

Although the Assyrian emissary tried to turn the people against Hezekiah, although he tried to sow doubt in their hearts, the people remained silent, and they did not agree to the terms delivered to them.

We are quick to engage the enemy, we are quick to find common ground, we are quick to try and understand their point of view when the best course of action would have been to take a step back and remain silent.

Sometimes all we can do is remain silent and await the salvation of the Lord.

Try as they might to reason with the Assyrian emissary, Hezekiah knew his mind would not be changed, nor would his demands be lessened. Hezekiah realized it would be fruitless and pointless to try and iron out a better deal, because Sennacherib had all the power, and he knew it. As such, Hezekiah ran to God, his refuge and his strength, the One who was able to deliver Judah and prove to the Assyrians that He was not the same as the other gods they had vanquished in their campaigns.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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