Readings: 2 Kings 18 and 19
What are we to do when we are afraid? Let’s set the setting: the Assyrians are coming and King Hezekiah is afraid. I can hear the fear and trembling in our Godly King as the Assyrians are taunting him. The words of scripture are so powerful in these passages. We hear from so many: King Hezekiah, the King of Assyria, Isaiah, and God himself. Let’s allow their words to fill us as we study fear, an emotion that was palpable as the Assyrians were getting closer and closer. Today I’m going to share mostly the words from “The Message” translation of the Bible. I cannot tell the story any better than this.
“King Hezekiah sent a message to the king of Assyria at his headquarters in Lachish: “I’ve done wrong; I admit it. Pull back your army; I’ll pay whatever tribute you set.
The king of Assyria demanded tribute from Hezekiah king of Judah—eleven tons of silver and a ton of gold. Hezekiah turned over all the silver he could find in The Temple of God and in the palace treasuries. Hezekiah even took down the doors of The Temple of God and the doorposts that he had overlaid with gold and gave them to the king of Assyria.
He said, “Tell Hezekiah: A message from the Great King, the king of Assyria: You’re living in a world of make-believe, of pious fantasy. Do you think that mere words are any substitute for military strategy and troops? Now that you’ve revolted against me, who can you expect to help you? You thought Egypt would, but Egypt’s nothing but a paper tiger—one puff of wind and she collapses; Pharaoh king of Egypt is nothing but bluff and bluster. Or are you going to tell me, ‘We rely on God’?
And then the notorious King gives a hate filled speech to all the land to hear. Imagine modern day leaders, one your mind can conjure, calling out to your nation that your God is bogus, not worthy of praise. “Come now, make a bargain with me”. “The Lord himself told me to march against this country and destroy it”.. (verse 18:25) Lies!! Do you feel Hezekiah’s fear?
The people were silent. No one spoke a word for the king had ordered, “Don’t anyone say a word—not one word!”
When Hezekiah heard it all, he too ripped his robes apart and dressed himself in rough burlap. Then he went into The Temple of God. He sent a messager to the prophet Isaiah . They said to him, “A message from Hezekiah:
‘This is a black day, a terrible day—doomsday!
Do you feel his fear now?
Isaiah answered them, “Tell your master, ‘God’s word: Don’t be at all concerned about what you’ve heard from the king of Assyria’s bootlicking errand boys—these outrageous blasphemies. Here’s what I’m going to do: Afflict him with self-doubt. He’s going to hear a rumor and, frightened for his life, retreat to his own country. Once there, I’ll see to it that he gets killed.’”
Hezekiah took the letter from the envoy and read it. He went to The Temple of God and spread it out before God. And Hezekiah prayed—oh, how he prayed!
Oh how he prayed.
“God, God of Israel, seated
in majesty on the cherubim-throne.
You are the one and only God,
sovereign over all kingdoms on earth,
Maker of heaven,
maker of earth.
Open your ears, God, and listen,
open your eyes and look.
Look at this letter Sennacherib has sent,
a brazen insult to the living God!
The facts are true, O God: The kings of Assyria
have laid waste countries and kingdoms.
Huge bonfires they made of their gods, their
no-gods hand-made from wood and stone.
But now O God, our God,
save us from raw Assyrian power;
Make all the kingdoms on earth know
that you are God, the one and only God.“