Summary: Hezekiah's Faith in spite of Adversity
“Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf”
Isaiah 36 & 37 - 9/4/05
Intro: Do you remember as kids hearing a story about three industrious little pigs? The built their own houses, and were fine until one hungry old wolf came around looking for a ham dinner! When the big, bad wolf came knocking at the door, he made a lot of threats, and did a lot that scared and intimidated those little pigs.
Sometimes we get fearful very easily. I remember one night in a board meeting at another church at the beginning of the meeting as we were talking over the agenda, one man said, “I’d like to talk tonight about whether it’s okay for the pastor to take off his coat when he preaches.” We all spent the night thinking he wanted to make the pastor keep his coat on, when what he really wanted to do was to give the pastor permission to take his coat off if it got too hot.
What do you think when you walk into work after lunch and someone says, “The boss wants to see you right away”? The first thought is, “Oh, no, what now?” Or how about when the pastor calls up and says, “I’d like to come over and see you this week.” We so quickly become fearful.
How do we deal with fear in our lives? Where’s our security? We’ve been going through the OT, looking in the prophets at the time of Isaiah, and here we see King Hezekiah deal with some great threats and we see him respond with great security. Let’s look at Isaiah 36 and see some lessons about faith and fear.
I. The Temptation to Fear is Very Real
Let’s set the stage: Under King Ahaz of Judah, the southern kingdom faced conflict with the Northern kingdom of Israel. Ahaz turned to Assyria for help. But that help had it’s price. Assyria decided it would like to conquer both Israel AND Judah.
Following the reign of Ahaz, his son Hezekiah came to the throne. Hezekiah is a good man, a godly king. He worships the Lord. 2 Kings 18:5-7 tells us Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no-one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. Hezekiah destroys the altars of the idol worshipers. He even destroys all the altars to worship Jehovah, the true God, except for the altar at Jerusalem where the Jews were supposed to go to worship.
In Hezekiah’s 4th year, the Assyrians invade. They sweep down and attack Israel under Shalmaneser, King of Assyria. They give Israel a 3 year siege, and in Hezekiah’s 6th year, Samaria, the capital city of Israel falls, and the Israelites in the north are all taken away. A few years later, the Assyrians sweep down to Judah and King Hezekiah under the Assyrian King Sennacherib. Hezekiah decided he would not pay tribute to Sennacherib, the Assyrian King. Sennacherib doesn’t like this, so he decides to invade. Hezekiah then pays him the tribute he wants, but Sennacherib still decides to attack. The Assyrian army has destroyed the towns of Judah - 46 fortified cities have been captured, 200,000 people have been taken into captivity, and the army comes to the gates of Jerusalem. That’s enough to make anyone fearful.
Now let’s look at Isaiah 36. Read whole chapter.
Why would Hezekiah be tempted to be fearful? Let’s look at what he was facing.
1. The Northern kingdom, Israel, fell to Assyria 10 years before these events. This was a nation that had defeated Israel, the stronger nation to the north.
2. All the cities of Judah had fallen (vs.1). Jerusalem is the only city left that hadn’t fallen.
3. The army is right outside the city (vs.2). They could look out from the city walls and see the hundreds of thousands of soldiers right outside the city.
Emotional Discouragement - Intimidation
4. Three high ranking officials have come from the enemy king. CF. 2 Kings 18:17 - The king of Assyria sent his supreme commander, his chief officer and his field commander with a large army, from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem.
5. vs.5 - They are accused of having no strategy or strength
6. vs. 6 - They are hoping for Egypt to help, but they are told Egypt will not help, but in fact will actually harm the Jews
7. vs. 7 - They are told even God is against them.