Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Year 8, Day 16: 2 Kings 18

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Today we begin one of my favorite teaching stories on the topic of faith.  We meet Hezekiah the king, who is one of the elite among the faithful kings of Judah.  We hear about Sennacherib, who is one of the great kings of Assyria.  We hear about a great defiance, a lie, and the faithful response of the people.

Before we get to all of this, make sure that we understand the context of what is going on.  The Assyrians have been chosen by God to be His punishment upon Israel.  The Assyrians take possession of the land and pull the Hebrew people of the northern kingdom away from their inheritance.  There has been no nation that has stopped the Assyrians.  Whatever the Assyrians have wanted, they have taken by force.

Now, however, the Assyrians come to Judah and plan to take Jerusalem.  They have even taken many of the fortified cities of Judah.  It looks bleak, especially when no help arrives from Egypt.  The Assyrian army encircles Jerusalem and begins to lay siege against it.

In this context the mouthpiece of Sennacherib comes to the wall around Jerusalem.  He announces their impending doom.  He tells the people of the city, especially the guards upon the wall, that their city will fall and there is no hope on the horizon.  He even indicates that they shouldn’t rely upon God.  After all, what god has any nation believed in that has saved them from the hand of the Assyrian onslaught?

Here’s the thing that Hezekiah understands, though.  He knows that God will deliver them.  He tells the people to not even acknowledge the Assyrians.  He knows that God may have brought Assyria upon Israel, but God has not brought Assyria upon Judah.  Hezekiah holds fast.

I praise Hezekiah for this bold stance.  Here is a faithful response in the face of an overwhelming enemy.  Here is a response where Hezekiah draws a line in the sand and says, “Here I stand, I can do no other.”  He then turns and invites the people around him to stand upon the same line in the stand.  This is what leadership looks like.  This is why the story of Hezekiah is one of my favorite faith teaching stories form among the kings.

Tomorrow we’ll see how the story ends.