Hezekiah was in a jam. He’d tried to be faithful and God was pleased with Him. But the Assyrian army was outside his gate making promises to do to Judah what they had done to Israel. Not only were they making these promises but they were doing so in a language all the people could hear and understand. Hezekiah had paid the huge ransom they demanded but now the Assyrian king wanted more.
The Assyrian was crafty and had done his homework. He’s not just making threats to destroy, he tries to tempt them in the very language God had used when He described the Promised Land.
32 Then I will come and lead you to a land similar to your own—a land of plentiful grain, new wine, bread, vineyards, olive orchards, and honey. This is a place where you will live in peace and not worry about a premature death. Do not listen to Hezekiah when he lies to you, saying, ‘The Eternal will save us.’
It’s strange to me that in those verses I hear the echo of the serpent saying “did God really say?” The king was trying to make the Judeans doubt God. It’s the same challenge Paul faced in Acts 21:12 when his friends try to persuade him to stay away from Jerusalem for the perfectly good reason that he was going to be killed there.
Hezekiah has exactly the right response.
King Hezekiah tore his clothes after he heard what had been said. He then covered himself with sackcloth and entered the Eternal’s temple.
I’m not advocating sackcloth and ashes. God is not interested in these outer actions. What was important was that Hezekiah came into the Lord’s presence in submission and hope. He declared by his actions, and his heart, that he needed God. He declared that he trusted God. He needed to because the Assyrian didn’t give up. This letter was a direct challenge to both the Lord and Hezekiah’s faith in the Lord. Again this was the best response Hezekiah could make:
14 Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers, read it, and then placed it before the Eternal in His temple.
God didn’t let him down. There was a deliverance from the Assyrian threat. The exile was delayed. Paul went to Jerusalem, was arrested, suffered, was imprisoned and ultimately executed as he had been warned. An outcome I am sure he, as we, would much rather have avoided – but his faith never wavered. He trusted God.
Trust can be hard, it’s often hard if we are honest. Mainly because we like to think we know best and have all the answers. We’re raised to be self-sufficient and self-reliant and independent. God wants to be our sufficiency, for us to be reliant and dependent on Him.
That way lies love, hope, joy and peace. That way is a narrow way but it leads to eternal life. Get used to asking Him about things; grow into a life that is built on Him and His ways.