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God’s Word for You

Isaiah 37:14-20

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, April 28, 2008

Hezekiah’s Prayer

14 Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: 16 “O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 17 Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God.
18 “It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. 19 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands.  20 Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.” (NIV)

King Hezekiah had a lot at stake. Not only was he in danger of losing his kingdom, and not only was he in grave danger of losing his life, but he was facing incredible agony from his attackers. The Assyrians had a reputation for abusing resisting or rebelling kings in unspeakable torture and death.

But Hezekiah turns the threats of the Assyrian commander into the focus of his prayer. Of course those other cities and nations fell, and of course their gods failed them. Not one of those gods was anything more than decorated pottery or a metal sculpture. But the true God, the God of heaven, is the God over all things. He can do anything. He is “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:21).1

King Hezekiah was also learning that sometimes God permits trouble to come into our lives so that we turn to God for help: “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees” (Psalm 119:71). And Hosea said: “They will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me” (Hosea 5:15).

We have to realize that our sinfulness is just as hopeless a situation as the deadly danger Hezekiah found himself in. By ourselves, we have no way out at all from our sinfulness. We have nothing to look forward to except an eternity of torture and agony because of our sins: “The Lord will punish men for all…sins” (1 Thessalonians 4:6). But we look to Christ for rescue. He let himself be punished in our place, and we rejoice that Jesus is the one “who rescues us from the coming wrath” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Assyrians? Let them holler. Tough times? We have the God who loves us. He will cover us with his wings of protection, and he has given us the promise of eternal life.

1 When Paul said this, of course, he was specifically talking about the power and divinity of Jesus Christ: “God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:22-23).    Continuing with another thought from Ephesians here, Hezekiah was willing to risk everything, his home, his kingdom and even his own life for his faith, but the sacrifice of his life would have meant the fall of his kingdom. Christ, on the other hand, “loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25), saving us all with his one sacrifice on our behalf. His love for us places love in our hearts, too, and we respond to him by living “lives worthy of God,” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). We are tainted, stained and smeared with sin, but we are forgiven.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.