Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Driven to Prayer - Isaiah 37

"And when King Hezekiah heard it,
he tore his clothes,
covered himself with sackcloth
and entered the house of the LORD."
(vs 1)

What do we do when we are gripped by fear? Where do we flee when someone or something scares us to death? What is our first response to terror?

Hezekiah gives us a grand example of the behavior that should flow from us. "The best way to baffle the malicious designs of our enemies against us is to be driven by them to God and to our duty." (Matthew Henry)

Rabshakeh had been sent by Sennacharib to frighten Hezekiah and his people from the LORD. Instead they are, by grace, frightened to Him. We should be as well! "The wind instead of forcing the traveler's coat from him, makes him wrap it the closer about him." (Henry)

We learn much about the character of a person by his or her reaction to the storms of life. In the past two years I've watched friends walk through some very deep waters. Some have wrapped the coat of Christ much more closely to themselves, others have tossed it to the wind. The former are finding joy and hope and comfort in the midst of the distresses of providence. The latter are seeing that the way of the transgressor is hard, yet they continue to harden themselves even more. By their choice biterness, anger, and misery are following them rather than goodness and mercy and it grieves my heart.

Hezekiah is a living sermon to us that we must flee to Christ. He alone is our certain source of safety. Judah's king sends his servant to Isaiah - who had prophesied much about these events. Where better to flee than to the source of God's voice. In the day of trouble let us run to the Word and to prayer.

Hezekiah's message to Isaiah: "This day is a day of distress, rebuke, and rejection; for children have come to birth, and there is no strength to deliver. Perhaps the LORD yourGod will hear the words of Rabshaken, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard. Therefore, offer a prayer for the remnant that is left." (vs3-4)

What they are facing was foretold. It is the rod of reproof that has come from their loving Father. They are weak and have no strength to bear the burden that their sins are about to give birth to. So, they cry out for mercy. "Prayer is the midwife of mercy, that helps to bring it forth" (Henry). What midwife am I relying on and what will that midwife aid me in producing?

Hezekiah recognizes in his words to Isaiah that Rabshakeh's words are a reproach to the living God and Isaiah's response confirms that fact. "And Isaiah said to them, 'Thus you shall say to your master, "Thus says the LORD, 'Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me.'"'" (vs 6)

Assyria's words have been blasphemous words. It is not repentant Judah who should fear, it is Sennacharib and his unrepentant minions! The day of recompense is upon Assyria. "Behold, I will put a spirit in him so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land. and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land" (vs 7). On reading this verse my thoughts immediately went to the Proverbs - "The wicked flee when no one is pursuing." It was a rumor that sent Sennacharib back to his own land and it was in the place of his supposed safety that he would fall.

Two questions weigh on my heart from these 7 verses. What is my reaction to fearful circumstances - faith or flight? Where do I turn for comfort and safety - prayer or people?

Faithful Father, help my fears to drive me to faith and may the day of trouble be to me a day of prayer.

In His glorious grace,

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