Taking a break today from John’s gospel, we turn to another of my favorite stories of the Old Testament, that of Hezekiah and the Assyrian invasion. Hezekiah is one of the true heroes of the bible, yet is little known. He is king of Judah, the most southern of the two kingdoms into which God’s People divided when Rehoboam and Jeroboam were both proclaimed king.
Israel, the Northern Kingdom, has turned away from God and been sacked by the Assyrian Empire from the north, but now the Assyrians are setting their eyes on Judah as well. With Israel out of the way, Assyria takes over city after city and finally comes to Jerusalem. As the Assyrian commander taunts the people of Jerusalem, he gives us one of the most crucial questions Hezekiah, and in fact we ourselves, face in this world: “On what are you basing this confidence of yours?” His point is that Assyria has defeated every nation who relied on their god to protect them. Those gods are now ash heaps or piles of rubble. What, he asks, makes your God any different? How can one city stand against the might of the Assyrian Empire?
Hezekiah begins by trying to appease Assyria, stripping the city of its wealth (including the temple of God) and sending it off, but Assyria is not appeased and continues the assault.
We face foes today who as us the same question: “On what are you basing this confidence of yours?” When we trust in God against all odds, like one small city against a vast and proven empire, our enemies will work hard to shake our confidence in God. And usually, our best response is that of Hezekiah’s people: silence. Trust does not require us to win arguments with others, or convince them that we are correct. As we’ve seen again and again, this fight, whatever it may be, is not ours anyway. It is God’s, and as we will see tomorrow, God will come through and save us from our enemies if we simply follow and trust in Him. If not, then our fate will be like that of Israel.