Wednesday, March 15, 2023

2023.03.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 19:8–37

Read 2 Kings 19:8–37

Questions from the Scripture text: Who returns to whom in 2 Kings 19:8? Where does he find him, instead of Lachish? What had the king heard (2 Kings 19:9a, cf. 2 Kings 19:7)? From there, whom did he send where (2 Kings 19:9b)? Against Whom does he speak again (2 Kings 19:10)? To whom does he compare Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:112 Kings 19:13)? To whom does he compare Hezekiah’s God (2 Kings 19:12)? What does Hezekiah do, as soon as he has read the letter (2 Kings 19:14)? What five things does Hezekiah say about God Himself (2 Kings 19:15)? How do these contradict what the Rabshakeh has said? After all of this adoration, what does he ask Yahweh to pay attention to and respond to (2 Kings 19:16)? What had the Assyrian kings done to the nations (2 Kings 19:17)? To the nations’ gods (2 Kings 19:18)? Why were they able to do this to them? What does Hezekiah call Yahweh in 2 Kings 19:19? What does he ask Him to do? Why? By whom does God respond to this prayer (2 Kings 19:20)? What is the basic answer to Hezekiah? About whom does God give Hezekiah a song/poem in 2 Kings 19:21-34? How does He begin by mocking Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:21)? What has Sennacherib done to deserve this (2 Kings 19:22)? Whom has he reproached (2 Kings 19:23)? How did he claim to have done what (2 Kings 19:23-24)? But Who had made all of these places (2 Kings 19:25a–c)? And how has Sennacherib been able to do what he has done (verse 25d–f)? What does Yahweh’s enabling him explain (2 Kings 19:26)? What does Yahweh know (2 Kings 19:27-28b)? What will He now do to Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:28c–f)? Now what does Yahweh give to Hezekiah, as an assurance that this will happen (2 Kings 19:29a)? What will they eat this fall, since they have not been able to farm (verse 29b)? And what will they be able to eat the next year, since Sennacherib will be dealt with (verse 29c)? And to what will they be fully restored by the year following (verse 29d–e)? What other “crop” will begin to flourish (2 Kings 19:30)? What will be different about Jerusalem than other besieged cities (2 Kings 19:31a–b)? How will this happen (verse 31c)? What four things will not happen (2 Kings 19:32)? What will happen (2 Kings 19:33)? How (2 Kings 19:34a)? For what two reasons (verse 34b)? Who acts in 2 Kings 19:35? What does He do to how many? What role do the Israelites have in the morning? And where does Sennacherib go (2 Kings 19:36)? Where is he in 2 Kings 19:37? What can’t Nisroch stop from happening? Who does it? Where do they go? Who takes the throne instead?

What are weak believers to do with their worries? 2 Kings 19:8–37 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirty verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when believers are worried, they should turn to God in prayer that is full of adoration, trusting that all is according to God’s plan. 

The right response of weakness: prayer2 Kings 19:7 has already given a word from Yahweh about Sennacherib’s demise. Hezekiah knows that Sennacherib will be hearing a rumor, returning to Assyria, and dying there. Already, this is happening. Sennacherib is fighting Libnah, because he’s on his way to defend against a rumored attack from Ethiopia (2 Kings 19:8-9). Since it looks like he has backed off (he has!), he sends a new word of intimation to Jerusalem to keep them in line (2 Kings 19:10-13).  

Hezekiah should have rejoiced; it was exactly as Yahweh had said. But he was weak like we are. We don’t tend to say, “the world hates me; in the world I have trouble; I have many tribulations; I am suffering persecution; I am receiving painful chastening… praise God, it’s just as He told me!!” (cf. 1 John 3:13; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12; Hebrews 12:5–11). But he is worried about this new blasphemous comparison of Jerusalem and Yahweh to the other nations and other gods (2 Kings 19:16-17). So Hezekiah prays. Be anxious for nothing, but pray (2 Kings 19:14-15a, 2 Kings 19:19a, 2 Kings 19:20a; cf. Philippians 4:6)! 

The prayer-cure for weakness: adoration. Hezekiah knows that this blasphemous reproaching of the living God (cf. 2 Kings 19:42 Kings 19:6) will provoke the destruction of Sennacherib, so his prayer does just the opposite. When we are asking the Lord to act for the glory of His Name, let us learn to begin by adoring the glory of His Name! Behold how these glories are not just worthy of being vindicated and displayed by God, but they are glories that strengthen and gladden the heart of the anxious king:

“O Yahweh God of Israel!” The Lord is the everlasting, self-existent, self-sustaining God. And He has identified Himself with specific creatures whom He has chosen for Himself. One Name is entirely distinct from all creatures, “Yahweh.” The other is bound to and identified with specific creatures, “God of Israel.” We have this too. “Our Father”—identified with us. “Which art in heaven”—above all, distinct from all, hallowed.

“Who dwells among the cherubim!” Here, too, is a combination of God’s transcendence and His nearness to His people. He is exalted above the most glorious of the creatures, but it was a picture of this exaltation that He built into the mercy-seat, the atonement-cover, for the Ark of the Testimony. He is God Who dwells in the highest heaven, but also in the midst of His people. He is God of unspotted holiness, from Whom angels hide their faces, but also Who removes the iniquity of His sinful people. So let us even learn to adore as we pray, “You Who, having by Your own blood purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as You have by inheritance obtained a more excellent Name than they!” (cf. Hebrews 1:3).

“You are God, You alone!” Others may claim to have other gods. And other things may lay claim upon our hearts, as if they were gods. But there is only one God. When others reject Him, they are doomed to be destroyed. And we have no other hope, however foolishly we may think that we did. When He removes all other supports, He keeps us from falling into hoping in those supports. What a blessing to address Him as the one true God!

“Of all the kingdoms of the earth.” There are other kings, but there is only one King of kings. There are other lords, but there is only one Lord of lords. Even as we saw in Psalm 82, there are other judges but only one Judge of judges. Even the reality of many nations and many kingdoms is a reality that came into being specifically so that men might know that they are not God (cf. Genesis 11:4–8). The only King Who is over all is God. As Sennacherib rose in power, taking down other kingdoms, it was an assault not only upon God Himself, but upon Christ, the only Man, the only King, Who is also God. And whenever others seem to be making a similar ascent, we may do much for the help of our own hearts simply by adoring God, by adoring Christ, as the King of kings.

“You have made heaven and earth.” As we adore Him over the nations, our praise may rise even higher. For what are the nations? They are a drop in the bucket. Man could look at moon and stars and marvel at his own, collective, comparative smallness (cf. Psalm 8:3). Now, man has been just to the moon, and looking back could see from there the smallness of all the kingdoms of earth taken together. But our God has made the heavens and the earth. He spoke them into being (cf. Genesis 1:3, Genesis 1:14; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Romans 4:17). He not only numbers the stars but knows them inside and out as One Who names them (cf. Psalm 147:4). All things are from Him and through Him and to Him. To Him be the glory, forever, Amen! (cf. Romans 11:36, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 2:10).

By this exercise of adoring God in prayer, Hezekiah not only draws strength and gladness in the Lord, but solidifies in his own heart a right motivation for desiring deliverance: “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You, Yahweh, are the only God” (2 Kings 19:19b). 

The Lord’s song-answer to weakness: predestination, “the decree.” We usually think of predestination with respect to God’s predestining the elect to be conformed to the image of the Son, the adopted and glorified children of God (cf. Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:4–5). But we mustn’t forget that the Lord is the One Who rules and overrules all things. Sennacherib indeed is responsible for his rage against God and his wickedness in oppression and violence (2 Kings 19:26-27). But it is the decree of God that has ordained to do good and display glory through this (2 Kings 19:25d–f). He planned this from before the world began (verse 25a–c). 

So, Yahweh answers Hezekiah’s prayer (2 Kings 19:20b) by sending to Hezekiah (verse 20a) a song that addresses Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:21). Zion’s part in the song is to despise this “great and powerful” king. Those who are familiar with it may remember a film in which the curtain was pulled back on “the great and powerful Oz.” A god-like figure is reduced in a moment to a laughing stock for a young girls. Such is true of all the greatest threats in human history. The Lord sets them up for ridicule by comparison to the Holy One of Israel (2 Kings 19:22d), Who will devastate and humiliate them. The great reveal isn’t so much who Oz/Sennacherib isn’t, but Who Yahweh in fact is!

Let us never fear the proud. Let us rather fear to be proud along with them. For when we think that we are something, we become like Sennacherib: “my chariots” (2 Kings 19:23b), “my feet” (2 Kings 19:24b), “I have come up” (2 Kings 19:23c), “I will cut down” (verse 23e), “I will enter” (verse 23h), “I have dug” (2 Kings 19:24a), “I have drunk” (verse 24a), “I have dried up” (verse 24b). 

Ironically, Sennacherib is particularly self-impressed by the greatness of what he has overcome (mountains, cedars, cypress, forests, river-moats, fortified cities).  He knows the script, but he has mistaken his place. He is not the one whose greatness is shown by what he has overcome; he is the one who will be devastated in order to display the greatness of Yahweh. Why is [insert enemy of Christ] so strong? Because God has planned it that way to glorify Christ in destroying [insert enemy of Christ]!

Yes, others were powerless before Sennacherib, (2 Kings 19:26). But it was because the Lord had planned it that way (2 Kings 19:25), in order to glorify Himself in rendering Sennacherib utterly powerless (2 Kings 19:28). 

And predestination applies to bread as much as it applies to baddies. Hezekiah has been too occupied (literally!) with Assyria to plan for food, but God has planned for it. Even after Assyria is gone, what will Judah eat, having neglected to plant crops this year? The Lord gives them another song to sing in 2 Kings 19:29-31. A song about two seasons of “volunteer plants” (2 Kings 19:29b, c) and a season of gardening (verse 29d). It might not sound like much to an American who has never really worried about how he was going to eat. But for those who do worry about what they will eat or what they will wear (cf. Matthew 6:31), let them remember that they have such a Father Who predestines meals (cf. Matthew 6:32) and gives His people songs to sing to remind themselves about it (2 Kings 19:29). For He plants not only food, but nations of churches (2 Kings 19:30-31). 

Finally, the Lord gives a third song in 2 Kings 19:32-34: “He will not enter the city.” What seemed impossible when the song was written would become a song of perfect assurance after the events in 2 Kings 19:35-37. It was just as the Lord had said in 2 Kings 19:7, complete with the final image of the prostrate body of the assassinated king before his god Nisroch, who could not save him from his own sons, let alone from the One True God. “He will not enter the city,” Judah’s descendants could sing, when Babylon came. Or Persia. Or Greece. Or Rome. Or the Muslims. Or the papacy. Or the British throne. Or China. Or North Korea. Or the pluralistic western potentates of today. 

“He will not enter the city.” All of these can only do what is “for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.” All of history serves to glorify God as the One True God and Christ as the King of kings, the rightful Heir to the thrones of the nations.

What powers on earth seem great right now? Who decided, when, that this is how history would go? How must these powers ultimately end up? How does remembering this protect you both from imitating their pride and from fearing it? What place does adoring God currently have in your prayers? How might this improve by application of this Psalm?

Sample prayer: Holy Father, You dwell in unapproachable light, and yet You have adopted us as Your children. You atoned for us by Yourself in the Son, our Lord Jesus, Who has taken His throne above the angels. You scattered the nations so that all would know that none is God but You alone, and You are displaying Your glory by the Lord Jesus, Who was lifted up on the cross and is now gathering all nations to Himself! Forgive us for when we are proud, and forgive us for when we fear those who are proud and seem great among men. O Lord, by Your Spirit give us humility about ourselves and joyful confidence in You alone, we pray, through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH375 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name” 

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