May 13, 2021
“Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers, read it, then went up to the Lord’s house and spread it out before the Lord. Hezekiah prayed to the Lord..."
“Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers, read it, then went up to the Lord’s house and spread it out before the Lord. Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: ‘Lord of Hosts, God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, You are God – You alone – of all kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens of the earth. Listen closely, Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, Lord, and see; hear all the words that Senacherib has sent to mock the living God. Lord, it is true that the kings of Assyria have devastated all these countries and their lands and have thrown their gods into the fire; for they were not gods but made by human hands – wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. Now Lord our God, save us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord – You alone.’” Isaiah 37:14–20
Sennacherib’s envoys returned from the outskirts of Jerusalem to find that the Assyrian army had left Lachish to attack the nearby city of Libna, a military fortress in the lowland between the Mediterranean and the hills of Judah (2 Kings 19:8).
The threat from King Tirhakah forced Sennacherib to retreat—but not before firing a final “missile” threat at Hezekiah. It came in the form of a letter, probably very lengthy and taking up several leather or papyrus scrolls. Sennacherib had nothing new to say apart from the all-important fact that initially he had accused Hezekiah of deceiving the people of Jerusalem; now he was accusing the Lord of deceiving Hezekiah.
“Say this to Hezekiah king of Judah: Don’t let your God, whom you trust, deceive you by saying that Jerusalem won’t be handed over to the king of Assyria.” Isaiah 37:10
Hezekiah’s response was to return to the Temple, to engage once more in prayer to the Lord. By spreading out the letter, Hezekiah was making a gesture as if to say, “Lord, look at this!” His prayer is a model containing both adoration and petition. Hezekiah weaves what he knows about God’s character into worship. Prayer should begin with worship as Jesus Himself taught in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13; Luke 11:2–4).
Even when we are pressed into a corner (as many of us are today), worship should come first when we approach the Lord in prayer. I am not talking about music, which has become synonymous with “worship” in our church culture. I am speaking of approaching the Lord with the attitude that recognizes that God saves men: He hears our prayers, has the power to deliver, is present in our lives, and has a consistent character (as revealed through Scripture) that we can trust.
Isaiah’s friendship and ministry to King Hezekiah, urging prayer as the way of deliverance, won the day. God gave Judah a God-fearing leader (Isaiah) at its most crucial time, and Isaiah has also been given to us by way of the Bible. Will you heed his counsel as Hezekiah did? Will you worshipfully approach the Lord with your requests?