2 Kings 18:13-19:37 – Is God Your Fire Extinguisher or Abba Father?

Posted: September 21, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

2 Kings 18:13-19:37

The Assyrian Threat to Judah

There is an old saying that God is always on time. He’s never too early and He’s never too late. He gives us what we need right when we need it. I fully believe that God gives us what we need when we need it. I also believe that He is more inclined to hear the prayers of those who recognize Him daily through prayer and through their daily attitude toward Him. In my last blog, I talked about how there was a spike in church attendance for the first month after the 09/11 attacks but that things went back to normal after that. Many treat God as a fire extinguisher God. They run get Him when the house is on fire but any other time, He is as ignored by Him as the fire extinguisher that you pass in the hallway at work each day.

But for those that make God a priority in their lives everyday and not just when times seem hopeless, I think God is more inclined to hear their prayers and supplications. When we make God a priority in our lives through daily prayer, ongoing conversations with Him during the day, and just a posture of being lovingly submitted to God, He sees that and responds to us. I am not saying that God does not love us when we are not attentive to Him. I am not saying that God does not relentlessly pursue those who are far from Him (just think of the fact that God came into the Garden immediately after Adam & Eve disobeyed Him – He pursued them immediately). God is relentless in His efforts to bring us unto Him. However, I do think He has a special place in His heart for those who earnestly pursue Him daily. When we have a real, ongoing relationship with Him through prayer and just daily intimacy with Him, He has His ear inclined readily to us.

It is like a father with one child who has nothing to do with him at all except when they need something and another child who has a daily, ongoing relationship with him. He loves both children equally. They are his children and that’s all they have to do to receive his love – be his child. However, the one who has an ongoing relationship with the father will more readily receive help from the father than the child who has nothing to do with him. It is simply human nature to be more inclined to help those who have an actual ongoing relationship with us than those who do not. The father in this situation would love nothing more than for the self-alienated child to return to relationship with him. There would be shouts of joy when and if that happened instead of the internal heartache and sadness that the father feels for being ignored by this child.

It is like that with God. He aches for us to have an intimate ongoing relationship with Him. He desires that and wants that. It is really up to us to go to Him and say Abba Father, I have strayed away from you and long for an intimate relationship with you my heavenly Daddy. He will incline His ear to us. When we have intimacy with God, He does grant us favor in a sense that He does not when we ignore Him except in times of need.

That was the thought that came to mind this morning when I read this rather extended passage, 2 Kings 18:13-19:37. That thought of how Hezekiah had an actual ongoing relationship with the Lord whereas previous kings of Israel and Judah had not. He had a real relationship with God and God showed Him favor in a time of need. How often do we ignore God until it is panic time? And does God show favor to those who have a real, ongoing, daily, intimate relationship with Him? Those were thoughts that came to mind today. Let’s read the passage now:

13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign,[a] King Sennacherib of Assyria came to attack the fortified towns of Judah and conquered them. 14 King Hezekiah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong. I will pay whatever tribute money you demand if you will only withdraw.” The king of Assyria then demanded a settlement of more than eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold.[b] 15 To gather this amount, King Hezekiah used all the silver stored in the Temple of the Lord and in the palace treasury. 16 Hezekiah even stripped the gold from the doors of the Lord’s Temple and from the doorposts he had overlaid with gold, and he gave it all to the Assyrian king.

17 Nevertheless, the king of Assyria sent his commander in chief, his field commander, and his chief of staff[c] from Lachish with a huge army to confront King Hezekiah in Jerusalem. The Assyrians took up a position beside the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool, near the road leading to the field where cloth is washed.[d] 18 They summoned King Hezekiah, but the king sent these officials to meet with them: Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian.

Chapter 19

1 Then the Assyrian king’s chief of staff told them to give this message to Hezekiah:

“This is what the great king of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you so confident? 20 Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength? Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me? 21 On Egypt? If you lean on Egypt, it will be like a reed that splinters beneath your weight and pierces your hand. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is completely unreliable!

22 “But perhaps you will say to me, ‘We are trusting in the Lord our God!’ But isn’t he the one who was insulted by Hezekiah? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down his shrines and altars and make everyone in Judah and Jerusalem worship only at the altar here in Jerusalem?

23 “I’ll tell you what! Strike a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria. I will give you 2,000 horses if you can find that many men to ride on them! 24 With your tiny army, how can you think of challenging even the weakest contingent of my master’s troops, even with the help of Egypt’s chariots and charioteers? 25 What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The Lord himself told us, ‘Attack this land and destroy it!’”

26 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, Shebna, and Joah said to the Assyrian chief of staff, “Please speak to us in Aramaic, for we understand it well. Don’t speak in Hebrew,[e] for the people on the wall will hear.”

27 But Sennacherib’s chief of staff replied, “Do you think my master sent this message only to you and your master? He wants all the people to hear it, for when we put this city under siege, they will suffer along with you. They will be so hungry and thirsty that they will eat their own dung and drink their own urine.”

28 Then the chief of staff stood and shouted in Hebrew to the people on the wall, “Listen to this message from the great king of Assyria! 29 This is what the king says: Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you. He will never be able to rescue you from my power. 30 Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely rescue us. This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’

31 “Don’t listen to Hezekiah! These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well. 32 Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards, olive groves and honey. Choose life instead of death!

“Don’t listen to Hezekiah when he tries to mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will rescue us!’ 33 Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria? 34 What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? And what about the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Did any god rescue Samaria from my power? 35 What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power? So what makes you think that the Lord can rescue Jerusalem from me?”

36 But the people were silent and did not utter a word because Hezekiah had commanded them, “Do not answer him.”

37 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the palace administrator; Shebna the court secretary; and Joah son of Asaph, the royal historian, went back to Hezekiah. They tore their clothes in despair, and they went in to see the king and told him what the Assyrian chief of staff had said.

Hezekiah Seeks the Lord’s Help

19 When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes and put on burlap and went into the Temple of the Lord. 2 And he sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the court secretary, and the leading priests, all dressed in burlap, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. 3 They told him, “This is what King Hezekiah says: Today is a day of trouble, insults, and disgrace. It is like when a child is ready to be born, but the mother has no strength to deliver the baby. 4 But perhaps the Lord your God has heard the Assyrian chief of staff,[f] sent by the king to defy the living God, and will punish him for his words. Oh, pray for those of us who are left!”

5 After King Hezekiah’s officials delivered the king’s message to Isaiah, 6 the prophet replied, “Say to your master, ‘This is what the Lord says: Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian king’s messengers. 7 Listen! I myself will move against him,[g] and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home. So he will return to his land, where I will have him killed with a sword.’”

8 Meanwhile, the Assyrian chief of staff left Jerusalem and went to consult the king of Assyria, who had left Lachish and was attacking Libnah.

9 Soon afterward King Sennacherib received word that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia[h] was leading an army to fight against him. Before leaving to meet the attack, he sent messengers back to Hezekiah in Jerusalem with this message:

10 “This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don’t let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria. 11 You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different? 12 Have the gods of other nations rescued them—such nations as Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Tel-assar? My predecessors destroyed them all! 13 What happened to the king of Hamath and the king of Arpad? What happened to the kings of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?”

14 After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord’s Temple and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord: “O Lord, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. 16 Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God.

17 “It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. 18 And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. 19 Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God.”

Isaiah Predicts Judah’s Deliverance

20 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer about King Sennacherib of Assyria. 21 And the Lord has spoken this word against him:

“The virgin daughter of Zion

    despises you and laughs at you.

The daughter of Jerusalem

    shakes her head in derision as you flee.

22

“Whom have you been defying and ridiculing?

    Against whom did you raise your voice?

At whom did you look with such haughty eyes?

    It was the Holy One of Israel!

23

By your messengers you have defied the Lord.

    You have said, ‘With my many chariots

I have conquered the highest mountains—

    yes, the remotest peaks of Lebanon.

I have cut down its tallest cedars

    and its finest cypress trees.

I have reached its farthest corners

    and explored its deepest forests.

24

I have dug wells in many foreign lands

    and refreshed myself with their water.

With the sole of my foot

    I stopped up all the rivers of Egypt!’

25

“But have you not heard?

    I decided this long ago.

Long ago I planned it,

    and now I am making it happen.

I planned for you to crush fortified cities

    into heaps of rubble.

26

That is why their people have so little power

    and are so frightened and confused.

They are as weak as grass,

    as easily trampled as tender green shoots.

They are like grass sprouting on a housetop,

    scorched before it can grow lush and tall.

27

“But I know you well—

    where you stay

and when you come and go.

    I know the way you have raged against me.

28

And because of your raging against me

    and your arrogance, which I have heard for myself,

I will put my hook in your nose

    and my bit in your mouth.

I will make you return

    by the same road on which you came.”

29 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Here is the proof that what I say is true:

“This year you will eat only what grows up by itself,

    and next year you will eat what springs up from that.

But in the third year you will plant crops and harvest them;

    you will tend vineyards and eat their fruit.

30

And you who are left in Judah,

    who have escaped the ravages of the siege,

will put roots down in your own soil

    and will grow up and flourish.

31

For a remnant of my people will spread out from Jerusalem,

    a group of survivors from Mount Zion.

The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies[i]

    will make this happen!

32 “And this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria:

“His armies will not enter Jerusalem.

    They will not even shoot an arrow at it.

They will not march outside its gates with their shields

    nor build banks of earth against its walls.

33

The king will return to his own country

    by the same road on which he came.

He will not enter this city,

    says the Lord.

34

For my own honor and for the sake of my servant David,

    I will defend this city and protect it.”

35 That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians[j] woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. 36 Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.

37 One day while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons[k] Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with their swords. They then escaped to the land of Ararat, and another son, Esarhaddon, became the next king of Assyria.

In this passage, we see that this event occurred in 701 BC, four years after Sennacherib had become the Assyrian king. Sennacherib was the son of Sargon II, the king who had deported the people of the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity. To keep Assyrian from attacking, the southern kingdom of Judah paid tribute to the Assyrian king annually. However, when Sennacherib become king, Hezekiah stopped paying this money, hoping that Assyria would ignore him. When Sennacherib and his army retaliated, Hezekiah realized his mistake and paid the money (2 Kings 18:14), but Sennacherib attacked anyway (2 Kings 18:19 and following). Sending the high officials but not coming himself, the Assyrian king was sending a message that Judah was insignificant in the face of Assyrian. The message that these high officials brought was intended to instill fear and awe in the people of Judah and discourage them.

Realizing that the situation was hopeless, Hezekiah went to the Temple and prayed. God answered Hezekiah’s prayer. Prayer should be our first response to any crisis. Although Hezekiah came boldly to God, he did not take God for granted or approach him flippantly. Instead, he acknowledged God’s sovereignty and Judah’s total dependence on Him. Hezekiah’s prayer provides a good model for us. We should not be afraid to approach God with our prayers, but we must come to Him with respect for who He is and what He can do. We must come to God each day in total dependence and not just some add-on activity that we put no stock in. We must see ourselves as a child of God totally dependent on His guidance and protection.

Is God your fire extinguisher God whom you go to only when the house is on fire? Or do you have a daily intimate relationship with Him. Do you pray earnestly in a submitted kind of way? Do you talk to Him throughout the day even when not praying outright? Do you seek His will and not treat Him like a vending machine when you are in a hurry? Is God the center of your life or is He simply the key to the door to a safe place you are trying to find in the dark when you are about to be attacked by the bad guy in a horror film? Who is God to you? Is He your Abba Father or is He the Fire Extinguisher God?

Amen and Amen.

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