Hezekiah’s Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day (and how he handled it)
Read – Isaiah 37:1-38
Key Verse – “Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD, You alone.” (Isaiah 37:20 NKJV)
Key Thought – Seeking God and His glory in the midst of trial, was key to Hezekiah’s deliverance.
Hezekiah was king in Judah.
God’s people the Jews had not always had a king.
– They had been miraculously delivered from Egypt after 400 years captivity there. (That’s the book of Exodus in your Bible.)
– They had conquered the promised land after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. (That’s the book of Joshua.)
– Once in the land, there was a long period of time when they were in the land, but not always serving God. They would serve God for a while, and then fall away and worship other gods. God would judge their apostacy by allowing neighboring peoples to afflict and rule over them for a time, until they cried out for deliverance. He would then raise up a man or woman to be lead them and deliver them from their affliction and restore them to the worship of God. This was the period of the judges (the book of Judges in your Bible.)
But eventually, the people wanted to be like the other peoples around them, and so they sought a king to rule over them.
– The first king over Israel was Saul. (This is the book of 1 Samuel in your Bible.) He disobeyed God, and so God removed him as king…
– And replaced him with David. King David was arguably Israel’s greatest king.
– Upon David’s death, his son Solomon reigned and took Israel to the heights of its greatness. (This is 1-2 Samuel in your Bible.) Then Solomon died…
– And his son Rehoboam became king. Rehoboam was as foolish as his father had been wise, and under his watch, Israel split into 2 kingdoms.
The 10 northern tribes were thereafter referred to as the kingdom of Israel, and the remaining 2 southern tribes (Judah and Benjamin) became the kingdom of Judah.
The history of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah plays out in 1-2 Kings and 1-2 Chronicles in your Bibles. When we come to the end of those books, we learn that the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyria in about 722 BC. The southern kingdom of Judah lasted a bit longer, being conquered by the Babylonians in about 569 BC.
The incident described in Isaiah 37 took place about 701 BC, so it was after the Assyrians had already conquered Israel, and before the Babylonians conquered Judah.
After Solomon’s death, and after the kingdom split in two, the northern kingdom of Israel had many kings – all of them bad. The southern kingdom of Judah had many kings, also, most of them good. Hezekiah was one of the good ones. Actually, he was one of the best.
And in the passage we’ve read today we see a couple of things.
- First, we see him having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Assyria had destroyed the kingdom of Israel a few years prior, and now threatened Judah. The armies of Assyria came and captured several of the fortified cities of Judah (Isaiah 36:1), and now beset Jerusalem, threatening to capture it, too. God intervened, and caused the armies of Assyrian to turn back and deal with some problems back home, but before they left, their commander (the Rabshakeh), sent a threatening letter to Hezekiah, basically promising to return and wipe him and Jerusalem and Judah off the map. So Hezekiah was not having the best of days, and faced a very credible and terrible threat.
2. Second, we see what he did about it.
That’s what I want to explore this morning. Let’s learn what Hezekiah did when facing this Assyrian threat.
For when we face difficult days… and who among us does not… we can apply Hezekiah’s method just as he did… and we, too, can come through terrible, horrible, no good very bad days, in victory.
He went to the house of the Lord (vs. 1)
He went into the temple of God. Now Isaiah did not record why he went there, but I think we can assume a couple possible reasons.
He went there to worship. That’s a primary reason people went to the temple and a primary reason people go to church today. And he went there to pray… to seek God… answers… help.
When Job was attacked so mercilessly by Satan, and lost his family, his friends, his wealth and his health (and nobody has ever had more of a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day than Job!), he worshipped God! Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshiped. And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:20-21 NKJV).
Hezekiah was in trouble. He needed help. He needed God’s intervention. So he went to the house of God.
When you and I face trouble we need help, too. We need God then, too, just as Hezekiah did. And we need to turn TO the house of God, and not away from it.
There are all kinds of reasons why we should be faithful to the gatherings of the church:
- We are TOLD to be faithful. not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25 NKJV).
2. We have the example of Jesus, who attended services regularly.
3. We were not made to be alone. We need others. We need the fellowship and comfort of community… we need the accountability of community… we need each other.
Yet, in my experience, too many believers, even those who might have been faithful during good times, fall away during hard times. Rather than run toward the church, they run away from it.
Of course, Jesus warned that sometimes such is an indication they were never really saved in the first place. But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles (Matthew 13:20-21 NKJV).
But I have known some… many… who I believe were truly saved and yet felled by trouble. I’ve known some… many… who once they crumbled under the darts of Apollyon never seemed to recover… never returned to church or serving God.
What do you do when facing trouble? Do you run to God or run from Him? Oh that we would all learn from Hezekiah, and when the worst of days… the worst of times come, run TO the house of God, rather than FROM it.
He looked to the Word of the Lord (vs. 2)
We are so privileged today to have the completed Word of God, the Bible. Every week in our Wednesday prayer meetings, we have a time of sharing praises and thanksgivings, and every week somebody thanks God for the Bible.
Hezekiah didn’t have the completed Bible. He had some of it. Much of the Old Testament was available to him. And some of those God used to write the Bible were alive and writing during his time. Isaiah was one such prophet and author, who was alive and well in Hezekiah’s day. So Hezekiah sent men to Isaiah to have him pray, and to hear what he had to say. He was looking to the Word of the Lord.
I will never forget the worst terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, that I have faced to date. It was not just a single day, but rather the day my wife died, and the days following it. Dark days. Painful days.
Many of you have faced such days. Kathy lost her husband to cancer and faced such days. Some of you faced cancer… some are facing it now. Some of you faced financial hardship… some the crumbling of a marriage… some the loss of a dear loved one.
But when I went through such… in my darkest days, I found wonderful comfort in God’s Word. So many people shared scripture with me in those days.
I’ll never forget my friend, Pastor Don Davies calling me on the phone to share a verse he had read in his devotions that day – You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3 NKJV). I don’t know why that comforted me so, but it did. I’ve never forgotten it. To this day, when facing a hard day, that verse comes to my mind.
I’ll never forget my sister Kalena Boyer sharing a verse with me. It so encouraged me that it made it into the book I wrote on grief – Though He causes grief, Yet He will show compassion According to the multitude of His mercies (Lamentations 3:32 NKJV).
Oh my brothers and sisters, when facing hard times… hard days… don’t put your Bible on the shelf. Pick it up. Open it. It will help you. You’ll be reminded of something Billy Graham said, “I’ve read the last page of the Bible. It all going to turn out all right.”
I mean think about it. If I were going through a trial, and opened my Bible to this passage we’re studying today, I’d be shouting and encouraged by the end of the chapter! Look at the deliverance God wrought. The Assyrian army did not touch Jerusalem. God turned them around and sent them packing.
I love God’s words to Sennacherib, king of Assyria, in vs. 29 – Because your rage against Me and your tumult Have come up to My ears, Therefore I will put My hook in your nose And My bridle in your lips, And I will turn you back By the way which you came.
I love His promise to Hezekiah in vss. 33-35 – Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: ‘He shall not come into this city, Nor shoot an arrow there, Nor come before it with shield, Nor build a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, By the same shall he return; And he shall not come into this city,’ Says the LORD. ‘For I will defend this city, to save it For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’
And what can we say about the astonishing miracle of vs. 36? Then the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses–all dead. 185,000!!! Picture the Ohio State University’s Horseshoe stadium packed full. It holds 104, 944 people. So on this night, the Angel of the Lord killed nearly twice the capacity of that stadium. 185,000!!! That’s more than were killed in World War 1 and the Korean War combined. That’s two times the number killed in the Vietnam War. 185,000 single-handedly destroyed by the Angel of the Lord!
That’s MY God… my defender… my King. He fights for me. How are we not encouraged when we read such things in the midst of trials? We come away from the Bible after reading such things knowing, as David knew when he stood looking up at the giant Goliath – The battle is the Lord’s.
He prayed to the Lord (vss. 14f)
Hezekiah’s prayer in these verses is wonderful. He sought God’s help, and expressed faith that God alone could help. He prayed.
Spurgeon said, “Prayer bends the omnipotence of heaven to your desire. Prayer moves the hand that moves the world.”
Corrie Ten Boom said, “The wonderful thing about praying is that you leave a world of not being able to do something, and enter God’s realm where everything is possible. He specializes in the impossible. Nothing is too great for His almighty power. Nothing is too small for His love.”
And another, whose name I’ve forgotten, said, “When prayer becomes your habit; miracles become your lifestyle. Never give up on prayer, no matter what comes your way.”
Oh that we would get hold of the power of prayer. Oh that I would. A little prayer to our big God can have a huge impact.
I suppose of the various things Hezekiah did when facing this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, prayer is the most obvious. I think most of us who are saved do this almost instinctively when facing trials.
Somebody wrote recently, “I miss 9/12.” They went on to explain that on the day after 9/11, our country was united, there were no political parties, and we were all one people fighting a common enemy. I miss that, too. But something else happened in the days following 9/11. Churches were packed. Prayer was everywhere. Politicians were praying. Celebrities were praying. All of us were praying.
Thinking back on those days, I’m reminded that we might not pray much at other times, but we manage to find the prayer closet when under the devil’s attack. Maybe that’s one reason the Lord allows him to attack in the first place!
Hezekiah took the threats of his enemy to God in prayer, and God heard him and did away with the threat. He delivered Jerusalem from annihilation and annilated the aggressors. King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven. Then the LORD sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land (2 Chronicles 32:20-21 NKJV).
Jeremiah Eames Rankin wrote the hymn we’ve come to love, “Tell It To Jesus” in the 19th century, and it still rings true today:
Are you weary, are you heavyhearted?
> Tell it to Jesus,
> Tell it to Jesus;
> Are you grieving over joys departed?
> Tell it to Jesus alone.
> Do the tears flow down your cheeks unbidden?
> Have you sins that to men’s eyes are hidden?
> Do you fear the gath’ring clouds of sorrow?
> Are you anxious what shall be tomorrow?
> Are you troubled at the thought of dying?
> For Christ’s coming kingdom are you sighing?
> Tell it to Jesus alone.
> Tell it to Jesus, tell it to Jesus,
> He is a friend that’s well-known;
> You’ve no other such a friend or brother,
> Tell it to Jesus alone.
That’s what Hezekiah did – he took it to God in prayer.
Well, these first 3 actions taken by Hezekiah when facing his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day probably don’t surprise you much. They are pretty elementary, even if we so often fail to practice them ourselves.
But the last thing I want you to notice about Hezekiah’s handling of this day is a little less obvious… and perhaps the most important thing of all:
He focused on the glory of the Lord (vs. 20)
He did not pray:
– Lord, save me for I don’t want to die.
– Lord, I’ve worked so hard to make this kingdom great – don’t undo what I’ve done.
– Lord, don’t let little children be killed by these enemies.
– Lord, don’t allow my country to be carried away captive.
All of those would have been personal prayers and ones we might have prayed in similar circumstances. But Hezekiah did not seek deliverance for his own sake, or even for the sake of those who might be harmed in battle, or through the loss of property and wealth. He sought deliverance because He wanted God’s name to be praised, and God to be glorified in the victory!
He surrendered his cause to God’s will, and sought God’s deliverance for God’s sake.
I was privileged a few years ago to preach a short sermon at the Shepherd’s Caves in Bethlehem. Standing there in that place where the angels had announced the birth of the Savior to the shepherds on the hillside… where the Lord had been born to Mary and laid in a manger… where the incarnation had taken place… I thought of many things I might preach. I could have spoken about any of those things, but there was an Old Testament story that came to my mind instead. It is part of a description in of David’s mighty men… men who were with him in battle and protected him with their lives. 1 Chronicles 11 tells of these men and describes some of their exploits. Now three of the thirty chief men went down to the rock to David, into the cave of Adullam; and the army of the Philistines encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem. And David said with longing, “Oh, that someone would give me a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!” So the three broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate, and took it and brought it to David. Nevertheless David would not drink it, but poured it out to the LORD (1 Chronicles 11:15-18 NKJV).
I shared this passage that day in Bethlehem, and saw in it a reminder that sometimes God may take our very best efforts… our greatest sacrifices… our dearest loves… those things that we have worked hardest and longest on… and pour them out on the ground. At least it may seem that way sometimes.
But nowhere in that account did those 3 complain. They had done what they could for their king, and he could do what he wanted with them. They were totally surrendered to David and his will.
And so was Hezekiah to God.
I wonder, Christian, if you’ve done THAT when going through trials.
– Have you come to the place where you were more concerned for God’s name to be praised, than for your particular pain to be eased?
– Have you been willing to say, “Lord, if this trial advances your kingdom, so be it. Glory to your name”?
– Have you come to a place in your life where you’ve knelt before God and prayed, “Do with me and mine what you will, only let your name be glorified in me?”
– Have you ever looked at a problem you’re dealing with and prayed, “Lord, let others be saved because of this?”
– Have you prayed, as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, “Not my will, Lord, but thine?”
– Have you done THAT, when facing a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?
That’s exactly what Hezekiah did here. He sought the glory of God… the will of God. He prayed, “Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD, You alone” (Isaiah 37:20 NKJV).
We’ve already mentioned the result of these things. Hezekiah’s response to his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day… his…
- Going to the house of God
2. Looking to the Word of God
3. Praying to the God of gods, and
4. Seeking the glory of God
… resulted in unbelievable deliverance. God hooked his enemy like a fish and tossed him back. He annihilated his enemy’s army, and delivered Hezekiah and his kingdom.
And, Child of God… He will do the same for you.