Text to ponder:
2 Kings 19:4 “It may be the Lord thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left.”
The situation: Sennacherib, king of Assyria, had sacked 46 cities of Judah, and besides killing vast numbers, had carried into captivity over 200,000 persons. He had also paired down the domains of Hezekiah, Israelʼs king, detaching various cities with their territories, and attaching them to Ashdod, Gaza, and Ekron. Thus there remained only a “remnant” of the Jewish people left in the land. This resulted from the faithlessness of the people toward God, as once again they broke covenant with Him with their idolatries, cutting themselves off from Godʼs faithful love and blessing, and opening themselves up to demonic influences.
Yet Hezekiah, the righteous king, who served and remained faithful to the Lord, had also rebelled against Sennacherib and refused to serve any other god except the Lord – in spite of the opposition and advances of the Assyrian king into the lands of Godʼs people.
Hezekiah also proceeded to break down all the altars of the false gods and goddesses, tore down their high places, and even broke in pieces the bronze serpent which Moses had made in the wilderness because the people were worshipping it and calling it Nehushtan [which simply means “copper serpent of the desert” per Strongʼs]. Apparently idolatry was very popular and had a strong attraction for Godʼs people. They were conquered not just politically, but more importantly spiritually. [The 2 usually go hand in had. Spiritual and moral decay and decadence within always precede the decline of any community, kingdom, or empire without.]
Hezekiah refused to compromise in spite of all that was happening, although he paid taxes to Sennacherib with the temple gold and silver.
It was then, when they were most fully compromised, that the Assyrian king sent an army to lay siege on the remaining population, preceded by his representatives with their spokesman and field commander Rabshakeh to “make a deal” with Hezekiah.
Essentially it went like this: “Make peace with us and let us have the remaining territory, or weʼll take you down the hard way, and your people will be taken elsewhere to a land just like yours. It will have all the same resources you are used to here.” [It was the old “resistance is futile” speech, essentially. “You will be assimilated.”]
“And donʼt think for a moment that your God is going to deliver you! Just look at all the other gods served by all these people around you whom weʼve taken down. Were theyable to resist our advance? No! So what makes you think Jehovah will do any better for you? Surrender or else!”
Thus the righteous king Hezekiah tore his garments and donned sackcloth. Grief stricken and garbed with the clothing of repentance, he immediately goes into the temple, apparently to give thought to how to handle this and take counsel with the religious officials serving there.
He sends for Isaiah the prophet via Eliakim and Shebnah who had reported Rabshakehʼs words to the king, along with elders of the priests, also now donned in sackcloth. They reported to Isaiah the prophet that the remaining remnant was in deep trouble and about to be taken into captivity. But just maybe thereʼs a chance, that if Isaiah himself, having a sort of direct speed dial to the throne of God, would pray for the little remnant in their darkest hour, God might yet intervene and save them. [See opening verse.]
Isaiah was ahead of the game and ready for them. He sends them back to Hezekiah with the message that the Lord would indeed intervene, that they were not to be afraid of the bullies who were blaspheming God, that God would put a spirit upon Sennacherib so that he would hear a rumor the likes of which would send him packing to his own territory. Not only that, but God would also cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.
Message relayed. Yet again the arrogant Assyrian king assaults and threatens and mocks God once more via a letter.
This time Hezekiah goes to prayer on his own. He spreads out the letter before God containing the evidence of Sennacheribʼs arrogance toward Him and his threats toward His people. His prayer was as follows.
2 Kings 19:14 – “And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. 16 Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. 17 Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, 18 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.
19 Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only.”
Then God again sends word through Isaiah that the righteous kingʼs prayers were heard and answered. 2Kings 19: 20-37, long story short, speaks of the result of the answered prayer of the righteous King Hezekiah. God tells the king via the prophet that it was because he had prayed, he was heard.
[You are encouraged to read the rest of the account for yourself].
This is not unlike what our land is facing. It speaks volumes to the powerful prayer of a righteous leader who is faithful to God – in spite of a nation which is in a state of “spiritual adultery” – faithless and idolatrous in every way. Together the righteous prophet and the righteous king prevail with God.
Yet what happens when both religion and statecraft have gone to corruption?
Dare we who love the Lord exhort one another with the same request of Hezekiah to Isaiah? “wherefore lift up THY prayer for the remnant that are left,” in the faith, and the authority and example of His word, that God will intervene mightily and turn the tide of the direction America and its leaders are going toward Himself and repentance?
PS: This story has 2 levels.
We ought to seriously consider this outer picture as the symbolic story of what needs to happen within us, for as Jesus shows us, Luke 17:21 “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” Recall, in the story the nation had gone into spiritual faithlessness, breaking their covenant with God, detaching them from His prosperity, peace, and protection. Being restored means that the people of God return to God, especially in prayer, until that prayer is answered!
I would offer that this story speaks to the people who are in covenant with the Lord, those “called by His name”, not the secular people or leaders who have no relationship to God, nor do they know Him!
Something to ponder! Might it be that we ought to pray first for the advancement of the Kingdom of God within us through Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit, within we who are the “Church”, those called out of the world for Godʼs own purposes?
You have to love the promise in 2 Kings 19:30,31!
“And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this.”