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Trust the Storyteller

I think Hezekiah was an underrated king. He served as the 13th king over Judah from around 716 to 686 BC. He witnessed the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC by the Assyrians and was in power when Sennacherib king of Assyria surrounded Jerusalem in 701 BC.

Hezekiah brought about many good reforms to Judah, and you can read about them in 2nd Chronicles 29-31. He organized the priests and Levites to better serve the nation and lead the people of Judah to worship the Lord. From his own wealth he provided the animals needed for the morning and evening burnt offerings, as well as those required for the feasts prescribed by the law of Moses. He imposed a tax on the people of Judah to pay the priests and Levites so they could devote all their time to serving the Lord. He built storehouses for the offerings brought to the temple, keeping that which was donated to the work of the Lord separate from other revenue, ensuring that it would be used for the maintenance of the temple. He repaired the temple, which had been neglected by so many kings before him. He removed the “high places” and altars that were scattered throughout Judah and returned the worship of the Lord to the temple. These are just a few of the reforms Hezekiah brought to Judah under his reign. 2nd Chronicles 31, verse 21, says this about him: “In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he prospered.”

The very next verse – 2nd Chronicles 32, verse 1 – says this: “After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah.” That was probably not what he was expecting! Things like this sometimes happen, don’t they? Life is going well, you are serving the Lord joyfully, the future looks bright, and then – suddenly – a foreign army shows up at your doorstep. In our finite minds, this does not seem fair. “Why, God?!?” we will often ask. That’s not justice, we surmise. Yet, God allows it to happen.

The problem is that our minds are finite. They don’t see the end of the story. All we can do is take our present circumstance and try to make sense of it. That’s not wise. The story is not over. God is not finished with us yet. He has a plan and the plan is still in motion. The story is still being told. King Sennacherib’s arrival did not surprise God. It was not a situation where God was sitting on His throne in Heaven, saw Sennacherib entering Judah, and thought, “Oh my, I didn’t see that coming!” This was all part of His plan. Why does God allow a “Sennacherib” into our lives? Probably for too many reasons to discuss here. But it could be to test our faith – are we trusting the Lord or are we allowing circumstances to control us? It may also be to show His glory – to demonstrate his capacity to save us from those difficult moments in our lives. Or, perhaps, it could be to use us to bring about change in the lives of others. All three of these reasons, I believe, are why God allowed this episode to unfold. God wanted to test Hezekiah’s faith; He wanted to bring glory to His Name; and He wanted to bring judgment to King Sennacherib and to the Assyrian army. Despite this threat, Hezekiah remained steadfast. With the prophet Isaiah’s assistance, he sought the Lord for deliverance. He did not contact an allied nation for help; he went directly to the Lord. And God – as always – was faithful. He defeated the Assyrian army in a miraculous way without the help of Israel's army and delivered King Hezekiah and all of Judah from this threat.

When you are faced with a difficulty at any level, do not despair. Do not capitulate. Do not run to others for help. Instead, go to the Lord in prayer. Wait on Him; He will rescue you. We don’t always see the end of the story and so we need to trust in the Storyteller. He wrote our ending for us, and, especially when we put our trust in Him, His endings are always victorious.

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