Strengthened Faith

“‘So now, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the LORD’” (Isaiah 37:20).

Isaiah ministered in Judah throughout the reigns of several kings, one of whom was Hezekiah. During Hezekiah’s rule, the king of Assyria came up against Judah and threatened to destroy it. His tactic was fear, and he utilized it by attempting to persuade the people of Judah that God would not help them. He boasted of all the nations he had destroyed before this, asking where their gods had been. Why should the God of Israel be any different from these other gods?

When Hezekiah heard this message, he was afraid. His faith was greatly shaken. With what little faith he had, he sent to Isaiah for help, desperate to know the word of God on this matter. “‘It may be that  the LORD your God will hear the words of [our enemies] […] and will rebuke the words that the LORD your God has heard,’” he said (Isaiah 37:4). Note that he said “the LORD your God,” not “my God” or “our God.” His faith was so fragile that he couldn’t bring himself to personally identify with the LORD. He begged Isaiah to intercede on behalf of his people. He knew he needed divine intervention, but he was too afraid and too uncertain to ask for it himself.

But God answered Isaiah, promising to send the enemy forces home after hearing of fighting in their own land. This is exactly what happened. But before the Assyrians left, they had one more message for Hezekiah. They warned him to not be deceived by this word from the LORD, reminding him again of all the nations they had destroyed, of all the gods they had defeated. The Assyrians would be back, and they would destroy Judah.

This time, however, Hezekiah knew what to do. He took the letter in which this message had been delivered, went to the temple, and spread the letter before the altar of God. Then he prayed, asking God’s mercy on His land. His faith was strong again as he addressed the LORD of hosts as “LORD our God” (37:20). He knew that God was strong enough to deal with this enemy, and he asked God to strike against the Assyrians for the sake of His great name. He had just seen God do exactly what He had promised, and he trusted Him to do so again. His faith had been weak, but God strengthened him and helped him to trust again.

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