The Faith of Hezekiah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, March 4, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

What bothers you enough to make you want to fight? In this day and age, a person can’t talk about politics or religion without making someone else so aggravated that they could actually threaten or cause bodily harm to the one whose view offends them. When I was growing up, people didn’t seem to get all bent out of shape about those things like they do now. That probably has a lot to do with the more recent explosion of social media and 24-hour access to the Internet and news updates than anything else. We had to find real things to get upset about when I was growing up. The line generally got crossed when someone talked about someone else’s “momma." When a person couldn’t get under your skin by insulting you alone, he had to turn his attention to your mom and sometimes even your dad.

We were taught growing up that words were never enough to start a fight. That old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me," was basically branded in our minds. Of course, everyone knows it’s not entirely true. Words do hurt and they are often the catalyst for violent conflicts. Still, we were taught to walk away from someone who was picking on us, ignore insults, and refuse to come back with violence.

As we begin to look at heroes of our faith who are not mentioned by name in Hebrews 11, the first one who comes to my mind is a man who had to stare down hurtful words of not his mother and father, but worse! His entire nation and their God were being put down by the Assyrian king, Sennacherib. Hebrews 11:33-38 tells us all of the things that the anonymously faithful were able to accomplish, overcome, or endure through their faith in the living God and his promises. The first thing mentioned is that they “conquered kingdoms." This could be describing a number of different people, some of whom we’ve already acknowledged on this blog. Today, I want to tell you about King Hezekiah.

The story begins in 2 Kings 18:17 when Sennacherib sends several of his delegates to King Hezekiah in Jerusalem to threaten them. His delegates speak what they’re told by their king, which is nothing but an attempt to intimidate Hezekiah into surrendering to Sennacherib and the Assyrians. Hezekiah evidently had some level of confidence because he had honored the Lord (verse 19), but the Assyrians were intent on destroying that boldness and instilling fear. But like the new song from Zach Williams says, “Fear is a liar." Hezekiah knew that and his faith allowed him to stand firm in the midst of this threat and fear-mongering that was happening.

Sennacherib’s message to Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18:19-35 is basically that he shouldn’t have any confidence in the Lord or anyone else because no god of any other nation that has been conquered has been able to stop Sennacherib and the Assyrian advances. The thing that Sennacherib ignored that Hezekiah remembered is that our God isn’t like any other god. We know that Hezekiah remembered this because verse 36 tells us that his delegates “remained silent and said nothing in reply because the king had commanded, ‘Do not answer him.’" Isn’t that sometimes the hardest thing in the world to do? When someone is threatening us, putting us down, or mocking those we love, all we can think about is what we can say or do to shut them up. But that isn’t always what God wants. Let me say it differently: it’s almost NEVER what God wants. He tells us through James, the brother of Jesus, “My dear brothers and sisters, take not of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20). In other words, we should always be slow to respond even when someone is really irritating us or saying hurtful things.

Hezekiah could’ve felt like it was all up to him to defend the name of God. He could have put himself on that pedestal. But instead, by faith, he remembered who God was and who he wasn’t. He let Sennacherib and his minions threaten, mock, and ridicule them. He even let them mock the Lord their God. Why didn’t he respond? It’s simple, really. Hezekiah had the necessary humility to be a human king who submits to God, and he understood that God didn’t need anyone to defend him. Hezekiah knew that God could look out for himself, and any fool who would mock him was only signing his own death warrant.

Hezekiah not only acted in faith personally, but he led by faith when he commanded his delegates to not even respond to Sennacherib’s obviously idiotic statements. In 2 Kings 19, Hezekiah goes to the prophet Isaiah and asks him to seek the Lord on behalf of the nation. He admits that they are in distress over the threats facing them, but still leaves it in the Lord’s hands rather than walk by fear. Isaiah seeks the Lord and promises Hezekiah that the Lord will take care of Sennacherib and have him killed without Hezekiah or his army even having to lift a finger (verse 7). Sennacherib sends messengers to Hezekiah one last time with one final threat and mocking of our great God in verses 9-13. After that, Hezekiah goes to the Lord and basically tells him, “Take care of your light work, God." He reminds God of the ridicule sent from Sennacherib (verse 16), declares that Sennacherib was only able to destroy other nations and their gods because they were “only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands” (verse 18), and then implores the one, true living God to deliver them from Sennacherib’s hand so that the whole world will know who really is the living God (verse 19).

When we put the ball on the tee for the Lord, he knocks it out of the park every single time. Hezekiah could’ve focused on his own strengths and winning a great battle to improve his own popularity. If he had made it about himself, he would have surely been destroyed. He accepted that his situation was hopeless without God, but with God victory would be a certainty unless God wanted them to be defeated temporarily, in which case nothing they could do would prevent it anyway. When his native people and living God were mocked and threatened, Hezekiah resisted the temptation to respond and sought the Lord. May we all take such an approach to those who want to harm us, be it physically, verbally, and even on social media!

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