Compared to the previous sections, these next two chapters are more of a historical read about Hezekiah, king of Judah, against the Assyrian empire.
The premise upon which the representative from the King of Assyria came up to Judah was two fold:
- Assyria was mightier than Egypt now. Judah could not flee to Egypt for strength.
- Every other nation that had trusted in their false gods had fallen to Assyria.
Both assumptions ignored the reality that the God of Israel was neither Egypt nor the false gods of other nations, but the only true and living God (let’s not take that title for granted). That reality in contrast with the thoughts and feelings of a world that is centered on power, influence, and gain, reminds the righteous that they can trust the counsels of the Lord and that the Lord will preserve the land for the righteous’ sake.
Hezekiah’s counsel to his men was to hold their peace in the face of opposition, which they did. They gave no response to the opposition. (See vs. 21-22)
I am reminded as I review this that that my individual course and counsel from the Lord is such as will place me in a position to act for the blessing and benefit of those around me. The Lord is trying to facilitate my ability to be more righteous.
In Hezekiah’s response to the Assyrians, there are a couple of things that I find noteworthy. Everyone in the Judaeo leadership took the threat of Assyria seriously, humbling themselves before the Lord in sackcloth. Hezekiah then instructs the same men who received the message from the Rabshakeh (the messenger of the Assyrian king) to go to Isaiah the prophet for further instruction.
Isaiah tells them that Rabshakeh will return to his own land without incident, which Rabshakeh does upon receiving word of conflict with another adversary. But in the midst of it all, they cannot leave Judah alone without sending a menacing letter.
To this letter, Hezekiah turns to the temple in solemn prayer. This prayer of Hezekiah’s is recorded in chapter 37:14-20. It is detailed and specific. He starts out first by addressing the Lord God and acknowledges His supreme autonomy over all His works.
O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth.vs. 16
Then, Hezekiah articulates the grave threat posed by Assyria. It is not many words, but it is enough to spell his concerns and to submit a specific request for protection.
Isaiah later responds directly to Hezekiah’s prayer from the temple. In all accounts, the Lord is telling them that He will fight their battles. That Isaiah then responds in such quick manner to Hezekiah’s petition is nothing sort of evidence of the Lord’s detailed awareness.
The Zeal of the Lord of Hosts Shall Do This
In Isaiah’s response there is perspective and promise, in addition to a prophecy beyond the immediate circumstances. The perspective is an understanding of where Assyria stands in the eyes of the Lord.
Isaiah is speaking directly to the king of Assyria as if he (Isaiah) were God with statements like “But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me.” This issue is directly between God and Assyria. It’s not between Judah and Assyria. Judah gets in the way though, because they are the one nation that worships the true and living God. Assyria cannot do as it pleases with Judah, unlike all the other nations.
To bolster Hezekiah’s confidence, Isaiah also provides him with a sign of harvest:
Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof.vs. 30
But Isaiah goes even further to talk about a remnant of Judah being preserved. Surely, the family of Lehi is in a part a fulfillment of this prophecy. He says that “the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.”
This is the Lord’s work. This whole of creation is carved and shaped to accommodate those that will follow Him and do His will.