• Rev. Mark Tews

Hezekiah: Hero of Faith

“Isaiah said to them, ‘Say to your master, “Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the young men of the king of Assyria have reviled Me.”’” (Isaiah 37:6).

Rabsheka, a messenger of the Assyrians, mocked plainly: By trusting in your counsel and might for war, you have placed your faith in empty things. You cannot trust in Egypt for they are not nearly as strong as you think. You can’t trust in your God because many other nations have trusted in their own gods and look at where they’re at now. I was sent against your brothers to the north and they are gone now. This same prophecy now holds true for you. There is no hope, none.

Not only could the people of Judah see it with their very own eyes, but now they had just heard it with their ears. By all means, Judah was lost. How did Judah get to this point and what could they do about it? A few hundred years before this, a young boy named David was handpicked to become the next king of Israel. David, in spite of his many sins and failures, followed God devotedly. Succeeding him was his son, Solomon, the wisest man ever to live thanks to a gift from God. Yet, even with all that wisdom, Solomon still made foolish decisions. He took many wives and concubines and may have eventually been led astray by them. He too, like his father, went to his grave. After Solomon’s death, the country split in two – Ephraim to the north and Judah to the south.

Hundreds of years later, God raised up a servant for Himself in the form of the Assyrians. They were a cruel and powerful force and showed no mercy. Due to their repeated sins of idolatry, God sent the Assyrians to Ephraim who sent them into exile forever. About 20 years later, they set their eyes on Judah. They began to prepare to take Jerusalem, the capital. Judah had tried to prepare by building a well so that they had fresh water. They even tried to buy Assyria off with the gold and treasures from the temple, but Assyria continued in their conquest. Judah had no military might, no allies, and no other options.

In the face of the Assyrians stood a man named Hezekiah, the king of Judah. He sent advisors to listen to the Rabshekah. They heeded Hezekiah’s command and remained silent. Their silence demonstrated a faith in the Lord. Often, it is better to remain silent in the face of arrogant unbelief. After hearing the Rabshekah, they tore their garments, marking it as a solemn and serious situation. They returned to King Hezekiah and reported everything. What came next is one of the Bible’s most beautiful illustrations of faith in action. When King Hezekiah heard the report, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the LORD. Then He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah.

Hezekiah was upset, yet his faith rose above his panic and he made use of fellow believers. Too often, when we feel weak and in need of each other, we don’t let others know our pain or need. In the face of our sin, we’re nothing on our own. God designed us in a way that we need fellow believers in order to survive spiritually. Don’t be so arrogant that you think you can handle everything you are dealing with alone. You need fellowship and the fellowship needs you.

Even more importantly, Hezekiah turned to the Lord through His servant Isaiah. “Thus says Hezekiah, This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the LORD your God heard all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the LORD your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.” (2 Kings 19:3–4).

How did God answer Judah when called on for help? “Isaiah said to them, ‘Say to your master, “Thus says the LORD: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled Me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.”’” (2 Kings 19:6–7). Then God declared to the king of Assyria, “I know where you are and when you come and go and how you rage against Me.” (Isaiah 37:28). Then God went to work: “Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning – there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there. One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisrok, his sons … killed him with the sword.” (Isaiah 37:36–38).

God knew the terrors that kept His people up at night. He knew how much was at stake for them. He realized the impossible situation His people faced without Him. So, He acted. God didn’t just scare His people’s enemies, but by His own hand, He struck down 185,000 of them and then fulfilled His promise that their king would die by the sword.

Our God is a hidden God; most times we won’t be able to see Him with our own eyes. However, our vision of God can become abundantly clear when we read of Him in Scripture. God didn’t sit idly by for Hezekiah and the people of Judah and He didn’t sit by idly when He sent Jesus to save us all from our sins. When things grow bleak in your life, stand up to your panic with the power of the Lord through the Holy Spirit who gives us faith in Him.

This faith won’t just happen, however. You must feed your faith by being around fellow believers in the fellowship of worship in God’s house. You must feed your faith by leaning on one another and upon the Lord your God. You must feed your faith by viewing your God as He actually is. Trust Him and abide in Him. He is the one who will empower you and give you victory.