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Hezekiah Sends Servants to Isaiah
When the delegation had passed on the commander’s words to Hezekiah, he tore his clothes. He also covered himself with sackcloth. He revealed a good mind, that of humility. He was not arrogant, but bowed under the judgment that came upon him. He knew what he had earned, and that the hand of the LORD brought this upon him. Therefore he went to Him to His house.
Furthermore he sent a delegation to Isaiah, with some people he first sent to the commander. Then he took refuge in the Word of God to ask what should happen. It is the example for us, to ask God by consulting His Word.
Hezekiah’s need was brought to Isaiah. It was “a day of distress” because the enemy was lying in front of the gate of Jerusalem and there was no strength to fight the enemy. Powerlessness causes distress. It was also a day of “rebuke”. Thus Hezekiah acknowledged that the distress of the enemy was a rebuke they deserved for their unfaithfulness to the LORD. Hezekiah also characterized the commander’s words as “rejection”.
Hezekiah continued his feelings in 2Kgs 19:4. But first he spoke in pictorial language about God’s work in His people. He compared the situation of the people with a birth that presents itself, when there is no strength to give birth. There were birth contractions, but the children were not born, so that the mother’s life was threatened. There was in the people, in the person of Hezekiah, acknowledgment of unfaithfulness. Confession of unfaithfulness can be compared to the pain of a new birth (cf. Jn 16:21a). But it seemed that the birth would not progress. Hezekiah saw only distress and no salvation.
He no longer dared to speak of the LORD as ‘my God’. For himself he saw that he had lost that right. But “perhaps” the LORD would listen to Isaiah. He spoke to Isaiah about “the LORD your God”. He recognized the good relationship Isaiah had with the LORD. The reason for his request for prayer was not that he was personally offended or that the people were threatened, but that the enemy had dishonored the living God (cf. 1Sam 17:45). It was about the Name of God. Is that also our motivation when we ask something, or is it about our own honor?
The question to Isaiah was whether he wanted to send a prayer “for the remnant that is left”. That makes this history applicable to the end time, when there will be a remnant that is in great need. It also applies to us, believers in an apostate Christianity, who (want to) be a remnant that focuses on the honor of the Name of God.
Encouragement by Isaiah
The servants of Hezekiah came to Isaiah as men who shared in the feelings of Hezekiah. They were therefore able interpret them correctly. That was why they were given an encouraging answer. It was the promise of the people’s deliverance and judgment on the king of Assyria. The LORD would ensure that the king of Assyria would hear something that would lead him to give up the siege of Jerusalem and return to his land. When he was back in his own land, the LORD himself would cut him down by the sword.
Here is the promise that judgment will come over the rod of discipline used by God to discipline His people (Isa 10:12). God shows that He was not only a God of Judah, but of all kingdoms. He is not a local God, but God of the whole earth. He made sure that this king would be killed in his own land in the midst of his own gods and thus shows His omnipotence.
Assyria Wants to Impress Again
The commander made one last attempt to break the resistance of the people. It was an emergency attempt to subjugate the people in order to then go and fight Tirhaka. The rumor had reached him that he was attacking him. The commander once again used an argument that he had already used previously. That was to point out the achievements of the Assyrian kings, what they had done with other lands. He also pointed to the gods of those nations and their inability to deliver those nations of which they were the gods. Thus the commander, without saying it explicitly, compared again the LORD, the God of His people, with the idols of the nations. He stated that the LORD, like the idols, would not be able to deliver His people from the power of the king of Assyria.
Hezekiah’s response to the threats of the enemy was beautiful and imitable. Hezekiah once again resorted to the LORD. What he did is always God’s great purpose in trials. It is also nice to see how he did it. He did not ask God for an answer to these letters for the king of Assyria, but for a solution for the content.
He spread out the letters containing all the threats to the LORD. He acquainted the LORD with its content. In this way, we may lay down all our needs before the Lord, one by one. We can mention by name all the things we care about.
Hezekiah acknowledged that God alone is God on earth. With that awareness he approached God. He first addressed God with the name “LORD, the God of Israel, who are enthroned [above] the cherubim”. This beautiful name of God shows His connection with His people and that He rules. Hezekiah confessed Him as the only God, not only of Israel, but “of all the kingdoms of the earth”. This is He because He is the Creator of heaven and earth. Therefore He is the Owner of it. No such thing is ever said of or to any idol. God is the God of the universe.
That almighty God can be approached and addressed and be moved to listen and see, Hezekiah begged him to pay attention to “the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God”. We see that Hezekiah was not concerned about words spoken to him, but about what had been said to the living God, with what He had been dishonored and offended.
Hezekiah was not blind to what his enemy had done. It was all true what the enemy had said about peoples and their gods they had conquered. But Hezekiah immediately acknowledged the reason. Of course the king of Assyria could conquer these gods, because they were only dead things of wood and stone, the work of human hands. You could just pick up such things and burn them or break them in pieces.
Hezekiah knew that despite all the achievements of the enemy, his God was above all. He alone was able to deliver and judge this enemy. Hezekiah asked the LORD for deliverance. He did not do this primarily for his own salvation, but that “all the kingdoms of the earth”, of which God is God (2Kgs 19:15), will actually know that He “alone” is God” (2Kgs 19:19).
Prophecy of Isaiah
Hezekiah himself prayed directly to God, but the answer came via Isaiah (2Kgs 19:20). It was an exhaustive answer from the LORD. This answer applies to the end time.
The LORD began by mocking the power of the king of Assyria (2Kgs 19:21). With God’s word of mockery about the enemies, the people were united. They were also the words of the people, presented here as “the virgin daughter of Zion” and “the daughter of Jerusalem”. These mocking words were put into the mouth of the remnant by the LORD. Only when the people really have the character of virgin and daughter they will be able to speak these words.
Here is a holy, a divine mocking (Psa 2:4). That’s how we should learn to mock. Mocking is often an expression of the flesh or an expression of feelings of revenge. Feelings of gloating are also often present when we mock. None of this is present in the mockery of God and in divine mockery by His people.
The LORD took the insults of the king of Assyria very seriously (2Kgs 19:22). How audacious it was to speak in this way to the Holy One of Israel! The LORD could only bring His wrath upon him.
The LORD knew exactly what the proud king had said and what he boasted (2Kgs 19:23-24). Through Isaiah, He revealed the condition of the enemy’s heart. It was pride that dictated his actions. He believed he could overcome the greatest powers of the world. He had indeed conquered a great deal, but in his pride he believed that he could also conquer God. The king of Assyria spoke as if he were God.
Then the LORD spoke to the conscience of the enemy (2Kgs 19:25). Had it never occurred to him that he was only an instrument of God, and that he was only to carry out His will? The enemy was not able to do anything but what God intended long ago. God governs history, not the mighty men of the world. If those in power realized this, they would come to conversion and perform their duties in fear of God and for the good of their subjects. Therefore we are exhorted to pray for all who are in authority (1Tim 2:1-4).
God let the king of Assyria know that he could only overcome nations, because God had put them in his power (2Kgs 19:26). In himself, he was like one of the peoples conquered by him. For him, the conquered peoples had become like grass, but he himself was no different from the same grass. “All who hate Zion” will “be put to shame and turned backward”. They will “be like grass upon the housetops, which withers before it grows up” (Psa 129:5-6). This judgment also included the arrogant king of Assyria.
God knows the enemy through and through. For the believer, this awareness is an encouragement, and at the same time he has the desire to be known through and through himself, so that he may be totally to God’s glory (Psa 139:1-3; 23-24). For the unbeliever, that thought is intolerable.
The LORD will deal with the enemy without being able to resist (2Kgs 19:28). The enemy will be removed by Him as an unwilling animal with means which He will use for this purpose and which are in accordance with his pride.
In 2Kgs 19:29 Isaiah suddenly turned to Hezekiah. The sign Hezekiah received was a sign that God would not leave His people. The LORD would bless the fruit of the land again. There had been no opportunity to sow, but they would be able to eat what grew naturally. God would ensure that the people had enough to eat. In the third year they would have to start sowing again and be able to reap and eat the fruit of their land.
We can also apply this spiritually. Someone who has just been delivered from the power of sin, who has just been converted, does not know much yet, but the Lord will bless him richly. He gets all these blessings thrown into his lap, as it were, and is allowed to eat what is given to him in this way. But he must also read and study himself, he must sow himself and will also be allowed to reap. He goes looking for food himself.
The beautiful 2Kgs 19:30-31 are about the remnant. These verses correspond to what Isaiah said earlier: “Now in that day the remnant of Israel, and those of the house of Jacob who have escaped, will never again rely on the one who struck them, but will truly rely on the LORD, the Holy One of Israel. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God” (Isa 10:20-21). The mighty God is the Messiah (Isa 9:6). Here we see the connection between the events here and the future.
We must have this remnant character. Mighty enemies threaten us, but we are dependent on the Lord. We look forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus. For us, He does not intervene by judging our enemies, but by taking us up from between our enemies to Himself.
The LORD concluded His answer to Hezekiah with the promise that the enemy would not enter the city. This promise was made repeatedly and in different ways in 2Kgs 19:32-34. The LORD did everything to convince Hezekiah of the certainty of deliverance. The main reason that the enemy would not get possession of God’s city is that the LORD protected the city for His own sake and for His servant David’s sake.
The LORD had chosen this city, it is His city to which His name is connected forever. The LORD also has chosen David his servant to be His king. For the sake of the true David, the Man according to His heart, the Lord Jesus, God will in the future “defend this city to save it”. That salvation is given a pre-fulfilment in the following verses.
Deliverance of Jerusalem
Immediately after the LORD had promised to deliver Jerusalem, He fulfilled his promise. “That night” it happened. “The angel of the LORD”, that is the Lord Jesus, went to war. That night He killed no less than 185,000 enemy soldiers by an act of power. Thus, in the future, the Lord Jesus will come to earth to judge the enemy and to deliver His people.
Sennacherib’s answer was that he broke up camp and returned home. When he was worshiping before his god in the house of his god, he was killed with the sword by his sons. It is really touching, pathetic, to see how “the great king”, as he called himself, bowed down before a dead idol. He worshiped a piece of wood or stone to expect its help, despite the shameful retreat out of Judah. And it became even more slanderous when he, worshiping this piece of wood or stone to ask for help there, was killed. There was no movement in his idol to protect him. The idol stood there unmoved.
The death of Sennacherib occurred as God had predicted in 2Kgs 19:7b. God shows here that He is the God of the whole earth and stands above all gods. Similarly, the king of Assyria who will be there in the end time, will find his end by the power of God (Dan 11:45).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Kings 19". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13