“Withdraw from me and I will pay you whatever you demand of me” 2 Kings 18:14
“This is what the Lord of Israel says: ‘ I have heard your prayer…..I will defend this city and save it'”. 1 Kings 18:20, 34
Hezekiah is King of Judah. Scripture tells us that he is a good king, following in the steps of King David. And at that time God knows Judah needed a good king. Hezekiah tore down the offering sites that kings of Judah before him had built to false gods of the local people. He held fast to the commandments of God and lead the people of Judah in worshipping only Him.
Yet for King Hezekiah, as there is today, there were many who did not worship, did not believe in, who felt more powerful than God the Father Almighty. One of those people, back then, was the King of Assyria. He was very powerful and had crushed many of the nations of his time including Egypt. So he comes and attacks and occupies several cities of Judah.
Now it appears that King Hezekiah’s first attempt to deal with the King of Assyria is done on his own, without consulting or relying on the Lord, God of Judah and Israel. For Hezekiah sends a message to the Assyrian King saying that he, King Hezekiah that is, has “done wrong” and offers to pay the king of Assyria a tribute, basically a bribe or ransom, of whatever amount the king wants, to get him to leave. The King of Assyria takes King Hezekiah up on his offer and demands a very hefty sum to leave. The king demands 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold (according to Google, that would be equivalent of 2 million dollars for the silver and 2 million dollars for the gold or 4 million dollars total). In fact the price was so exorbitant that Hezekiah has to raid both his own treasury plus the treasury of the temple for the silver and take the gold off the temple doors to have enough gold. The King of Assyria accepts the payment of silver and gold. Now if you were to think that the King of Assyria now turns away and goes home, you would be sadly mistaken, as I’m sure King Hezekiah was. For you see no sooner had the King of Assyria accepted the money, then he rode straight on to Jerusalem and threatens to invade it.
So King Hezekiah is between a rock and a hard place. He has already plundered the treasury to pay the first “tribute” to the Assyrian King, thus he has no more money to bargain with. As he looks around, King Hezekiah sees that the meager troops he has available to him are no match for the battle hardened, successful troops that are arrayed against him. Now where does King Hezekiah turn? To the very place that he should have in the first place. To the Lord God Almighty.
Now two things happen almost simultaneously. First, King Hezekiah humbles himself; scripture tells us he took off his kingly garments, put on sack cloth, a very uncomfortable material to wear so that he could show his humility to God. He knows that he has sinned by not going to God, so he goes to the temple and petitions God for His Mercy and His Help. About this same time, Sennacherib, King of Assyria, boasts and blasphemes, God the Lord Almighty. He shouts out for all to hear that the God of Israel has not power to deliver Jerusalem from his hands. That if all the other countries’ gods were not powerful enough to stop him, then the people of Jerusalem are fools to believe their God can prevail against the King of Assyria (we’ll see in a moment who the fool really was).
As you can probably guess, God does not stand for Sennacherib’s taunts and disbelief. God tells Hezekiah not to fear, that the King of Assyria will be utterly defeated. The Lord goes into the Assyrian camp and in one evening kills 185,000 soldiers! When the Assyrian King awakes the next morning and see’s the carnage and devastation, he turned and went home. It gets even worse for the Assyrian King. For while he is in his temple worshiping his false god; Sennacherib’s two sons come in and murder him.
So what is our lesson in all of this? First to realize that the easy solution, the earthly solution is the one that often presents itself first when we are faced with a difficult or tragically overwhelming circumstance. Second we must realize that should we find ourselves successful in life, that success is a direct result of the Grace, Mercy and Power of God the Father Almighty. If we lose sight of God in our life we may find ourselves tempted to rely on what we think based on our own past successes, our own wisdom and, like King Hezekiah, turn to the earthly solution to solve our problem. And more than likely, like Hezekiah’s solution to pay off the King of Assyria, it will not work. God does not want, nor reward self-reliance. To rely on one’s self is to rely on the imperfect. No God wants you to choose God-reliance; that is to rely on the All Powerful, All Perfect, All Knowing Father. Yes that does mean we will have to humble ourselves, knowing and confessing our weakness. It also means that we have to be ready and willing to pray and praise God for the assistance and blessings that will come. Note I didn’t say “if” they come. For they will surely come; just as they did for the people of Judah. Dear Sisters and Brothers may it be ,whether we find ourselves in dire circumstances, searching for a solution or launching forth on some great blessed adventure; that we turn to the only one who can truly bring about a successful conclusion; God the Father Almighty.
Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we completely acknowledge your total sufficiency to bring us through any trial or difficulty that we are facing. Yet we also confess, that often we fail to call upon You, Most Merciful Father, and try to take matters into our own hands. Forgive us Dear Father when we neglect to call upon You. Pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us that we would come back to You in prayer and supplication knowing that You will be with us always. That through Your Mercy and Love for us, we would see the triumph of Your Will and sing praises to Your Most Holy Name forever. In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen