Monday, February 25, 2008

Isaiah, Chapter 37

The power of faith is once again on display in chapter 37 of Isaiah. By Isaiah's time it was clear that as a nation, Israel had lost its way from God. They have come to rely on help from other nations against their enemies. They had started to make their own plans and hedge their bets against God coming through for them as He had promised. As we saw in chapter 36, the people of Israel were now facing a new danger thanks to the Assyrians and Sennacherib. They were on the outskirts of Israel and threatening to overrun the city. They were also openly mocking God and trying to undermine the faith of Jerusalem's citizens.

5 When King Hezekiah's officials came to Isaiah, 6 Isaiah said to them, "Tell your master, 'This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Listen! I am going to put a spirit in him so that when he hears a certain report, he will return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.' " – Isaiah 37:5-7

It is important to remember here that Isaiah himself had no official authority in the court of Hezekiah. He was merely a private citizen, but clearly the king recognized him as a prophet of God. Isaiah was very close to God and his faith never waivered, so it is here that he built up the faith not only of the citizens of Jerusalem, but the king himself. Even Hezekiah feared that the lies the field commander was spreading would come true. But Isaiah and God remind him in this chapter that God will deliver.

18 "It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. 19 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 20 Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God." – Isaiah 37:18-20

This is a big step for King Hezekiah. As the leader of Judah, he needed to show strength and faith in the Lord. He had been weak before, but here he completely puts his trust in God. Though many in the nation of Judah and in Jerusalem had fallen away, there were still those that were completely faithful to God. Because of that, God delivered on his promise to protect the city from the Assyrians even in the face of hopeless odds.

    33 "Therefore this is what the LORD says concerning the king of Assyria:
       "He will not enter this city
       or shoot an arrow here.
       He will not come before it with shield
       or build a siege ramp against it.

 34 By the way that he came he will return;
       he will not enter this city,"
       declares the LORD.

 35 "I will defend this city and save it,
       for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!"

 36 Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there. – Isaiah 37:33-37

It was anything that that the people of Judah did, but it is what God did. We have seen over the past few chapters that this threat was coming and the people of Jerusalem had tried everything to prevent it from happening. They had contacted Egypt for help, made provisions, and huddled inside the city walls. None of this was as effective as what God did for them simply because of those that had faith He would deliver on His promises. This is an important lesson to remember when we face challenges of our own. God may not always deliver us in the way we expect Him to, but he has promised to take care of us in our time of need.


  1. Why would Hezekiah have the sudden change of heart?
  2. Why would the field commander have his own sudden change of heart?
  3. Would Judah still have been saved if not for Hezekiah's newfound faith?

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