TODAY’S READING: Isaiah 37–39; Psalm 76
Things were rough for Hezekiah and Judah. The Assyrians conquered forty-six cities. They surrounded Jerusalem and took 200,000 into exile. The tribute bankrupted the kingdom, and the king himself was sick and near death. In this context of total disaster, in the supreme moment of his rule, neither he nor his kingdom had the ability to do anything. Sitting among the ruins of Judah, Hezekiah sent word to Isaiah: “It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words…[that] reproach the living God, and will rebuke… Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left” (v. 4).
Jehovah answered Hezekiah through Isaiah: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him and…I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land” (37:5–7). God used Tirhaka, the king of Cush (Sudan) who was pharaoh of the twenty-fifth dynasty and ruled all Egypt, Libya, and much of Philistia, to scare Sennacherib back to Assyria where his own sons killed him in the temple of his false god. Into this vacuum stepped Babylonian envoys as comforters to Hezekiah who unwisely showed them the little that was left, the little that Isaiah promptly declared Babylon would soon take.
It’s a dizzying collection of personalities and nations: Hezekiah of Judah, Isaiah the prophet, Merodach-Baladan of Babylonia, Sennacherib of Assyria, Tirhaka of Sudan/Egypt. The threat against Judah will be pushed back (for a time) with the angel of the Lord killing 185,000 Assyrians in one night, but all these names and nationalities are listed for the one reason supplied in Hezekiah’s prayer: “You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth… Truly, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands… Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord, You alone” (37:16, 18, 20).
The deliverance of Judah had one supreme missionary goal—that all the kingdoms of earth may know Jehovah is the only true God. Hezekiah’s healing was part of this metanarrative; he was healed and delivered so the nations would know Jehovah is real and powerful, the only God. Any healing or deliverance we experience, privately or personally, is so the nations might know Jehovah is the one true God. Have you been healed? God’s intention is that your testimony would lead your Indian physician to Jehovah. Were you delivered from death in a car wreck? God’s intention is that His saving intervention be expressed to your Muslim neighbor. Are you overwhelmed, out of strength, nowhere to go, out of resources, at a most critical time in your family, ministry, job, or life? Great! God allowed it so that all the earth may know that He is God alone. Don’t waste the crisis. It’s a great opportunity for missions, a great opportunity for God’s glory to be known in all the earth.