Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. — Isaiah 37:14
Some months ago, my wife was having a physical problem. When she went in to have the situation checked out, her doctor recommended that she see another doctor right away. It was almost quitting time, but that doctor said, “I will keep my staff here; have her come right over.” The next morning we got a phone call. They wanted my wife to go see a cancer specialist. Before that specialist even checked her, he said, “You have cancer.” He said they could do immediate surgery but he was not sure it would take care of the problem. They ran some more tests.
All the next day we were waiting to get those test results back. Every time the phone rang our hearts pounded. What would the news be? The people of God in our church called a prayer meeting that evening at the church, and we went to the prayer meeting. The saints gathered around my wife and prayed — like Hezekiah of old, we brought the matter before the Lord. And God met us that night! The two of us went home totally different from the way we were when we arrived. We still did not know what the doctor would tell us when the call came, but the Lord lifted the load when we prayed. Whatever happened, we knew that God was in control.
When the call did come, the message from the doctor was that my wife did not have cancer. The indicators had all suggested otherwise, but we put our trust in God and He answered. God can do that! It pays to live in close communion with God, so that you can get a prayer through when a crisis comes.
What is your need today? You can do the same as Hezekiah did and God will answer your prayer as well! Look to Him, yield yourself to Him, and wait to see what He will do with your situation. He will not fail!
In the previous chapter, Rabshakeh had intimidated the people of Judah by telling them that if they did not surrender to the king of Assyria, they would be destroyed like the other nations around them. When Hezekiah heard about Rabshakeh’s threats, he humbled himself before the Lord and sent messengers to Isaiah asking for God’s help. This appeal to Isaiah during a time of crisis portrayed the importance of the prophet’s position in Judah at that time.
Hezekiah asked Isaiah to intercede with God to save the remnant of Israel. The kingdom of Israel (ten tribes) had already been taken captive, and only the two tribes of the kingdom of Judah remained free. Isaiah reassured Hezekiah that the king of Assyria would not prevail against Judah.
At this time, Ethiopia was a district of Egypt, and the king, Tirhakah, was one of Hezekiah’s allies against Assyria. When Sennacherib heard that Tirhakah was on his way to make war with Assyria, he was determined to conquer Jerusalem before Tirhakah arrived. Sennacherib sent messengers directly to Hezekiah. (In contrast, Rabshakeh had addressed the general population.) He reminded Hezekiah of his conquests and pointed out that none of the gods of these nations had been able to deliver them.
When Hezekiah received Sennacherib’s letter, he took it directly to the house of the Lord. The letter was in scroll form and Hezekiah unrolled it before the Lord and began to make intercession. He acknowledged that God alone was the Creator of all things, and that the gods of these other nations mentioned in Sennacherib’s letter were created by men and could not prevent the Assyrians from conquering them. Hezekiah indicated that God’s reputation was on the line, and the salvation of Judah would prove that He alone was God.
Isaiah told Hezekiah that because he had prayed to God and not relied on his own strength, God would fight against Assyria and Judah would be spared.
Because of Sennacherib’s arrogance and rage against the God of Judah, God said he would put a hook in Sennacherib’s nose and a bridle in his lips. A common way of leading captives and humiliating them was to escort them by a cord attached to a ring which went through the upper or lower lip and nose.
In verse 30, God told Hezekiah that though Judah had been ravaged by the Assyrians for two years and food was scarce, in the third year they would sow and reap and have plenty of food. God assured Hezekiah that the Assyrian army would not enter the city of Jerusalem or even shoot an arrow. When the Assyrian army was camped outside of Judah, God sent an angel to smite them, killing a total of 185,000 men, a major part of Sennacherib’s army. Sennacherib was with another part of his army in Egypt, south of Palestine. When he heard about the destruction of his army, combined with the impending invasion by Tirhakah of Ethiopia, he had no choice but to retreat to Nineveh.
The time frame between verses 37 and 38 is approximately 19 years. Nisroch was the god of war, and Sennacherib may have been trying to bolster his courage to go to war again. Adrammelech was his oldest son, and he was angry that his father refused to make him heir to the throne. Sennacherib also rejected his second oldest son, Sharezer, and made his youngest son, Esarhaddon, successor to the throne. This caused his two older sons to kill him.
A parallel of this chapter is found in 2 Kings 19.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The historical interlude: The Holy One of Israel delivering from Assyria
A. The invasion of Sennacherib
3. The deliverance of Jerusalem (37:1-38)
a. The communication with Isaiah (37:1-7)
b. The communication from Sennacherib (37:8-13)
c. The prayer of Hezekiah (37:14-20)
d. The prediction of Isaiah (37:21-35)
e. The defeat of Sennacherib (37:36-38)
God knows what we need even before we ask, but He wants us to make our requests known to Him through prayer. Like Hezekiah, our needs may be many, but we can lay them out before the Lord and be assured that He will hear and answer.