It is one thing to know the concept of God. It is another thing to know the One True Living God according to the revelation of His righteousness. The Bible teaches that even the demons believe and they shutter at His presence. When Jesus walked the earth, demons bowed down before Him and trembled in fear of His power and authority. The Lord is God and there is no other! The Bible shows that those who know this to be true are comforted and encouraged, especially during times of distress and difficulty. The truth is, everyone experiences difficulty of some kind. It is the children of God that are able to face such difficulties with legitimate hope and comfort. God promised that He would provide peace that surpasses understanding. This means that the assurance of hope that God gives is intended to transcend the difficulty of any circumstances, even those that are life threatening. While God offers this benefit and blessing to everyone, only those who genuinely know the Lord get the benefits of what God desires to give. Only those who truly know the Lord, who He is, what His attributes are, what His character is, what His promises are, and understand His purposes get the benefit of God’s encouragement so that fear subsides in times of distress.
This truth can be seen in the life of Hezekiah. In 2 Kings 19:8-19 the Bible explains that God assured Hezekiah that He would bring judgment upon the kings of Assyria. The governing officials of Assyria were speaking pridefully against the people of Judah and blaspheming the Lord. This grieved and angered Hezekiah and his people. However, God comforted Hezekiah through the prophet Isaiah by explaining that He was aware of everything that was going on. God heard the blasphemous words of the Assyrians. God saw the prideful hearts of the Assyrians. God promised that He would respond, assuring Hezekiah and the people of Judah that He would not be mocked. God promised that He would send a confusing spirit to the king of Assyria so that he would believe rumors about various attack attempts on the Assyrian capitol. God swore that He would destroy the king of Assyria, but would do so in his own homeland. God wanted to deliver justice that sent a message; a message that revealed God’s sovereign control over all people and all circumstances. The king of Assyria would not die in a manner that could be considered coincidental to the time of God’s proclamation or typical of one going to war. God ensured Hezekiah that the king of Assyria would die in the safety of his own home town to show that God is able to penetrate the personal space of any person to do His will and exercise His sovereign control.
After giving this proclamation, the Bible explains that God got started on His work. When the Rabshakeh left Judah after giving his blasphemous message, he learned that the king of Assyria had departed from Lachish where they previously were. The king of Assyria was warring against another town called Libnah because he heard that the king of Ethiopia was trying to pick a fight with the Assyrians. When the Rabshakeh learned of this, he felt it was necessary to send the people of Judah another message. The Rabshakeh was anticipating victory over the king of Ethiopia and wanted to use that to emphasize his point that Assyria could not be defeated. The Rabshakeh sent another message to Hezekiah saying that the coming destruction of the king of Ethiopia would further prove that Judah would also soon be destroyed. The Rabshakeh wanted to tell Hezekiah that Assyrian dominance was unstoppable and that the people of Judah should just surrender to the previous terms that he offered. The Rabshakeh again slighted the Lord saying that their constant victories were evidence that the gods and idols of the people were no match for the Assyrian military prowess. As the Assyrians destroyed many nations and dismantled many false gods, idols, and cultural practices, the Rabshakeh warned Hezekiah that the same would be done to the people of Judah, figuring God to be just as weak as the others.
When Hezekiah received the Rabshakeh’s letter, he responded in the appropriate manner. Hezekiah opened the letter, read the letter to himself and the people, and then went to the temple of the Lord. The Bible explains that Hezekiah took the letter, placed it before the altar and prayed. Hezekiah was essentially showing the letter to God, not because God couldn’t see it otherwise, but as a statement of meekness and dependency on the Lord to fulfill His will and exalt His own name. This was a dramatic presentation from Hezekiah to show the Lord that he wanted to take his problem to Him. Hezekiah was showing the Lord that he didn’t want to address the problem himself according to his own understanding. Instead, Hezekiah wanted the Lord to take over the circumstances and exercise His power to show the Assyrians that He is the Lord and there is no other.
Here, it is especially important to notice how Hezekiah approached the Lord and addressed Him in prayer. Examine the words that the Bible documents and Hezekiah’s prayer:
"O LORD God of Israel, [the One] who dwells [between] the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. "Incline Your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. "Truly, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, "and have cast their gods into the fire; for they [were] not gods, but the work of men's hands--wood and stone. Therefore, they destroyed them. "Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You [are] the LORD God, You alone."
Notice that Hezekiah first acknowledged the identity of God and his understanding of the Lord. Hezekiah addressed God as “LORD God,” which in Hebrew is, “Yahweh Elohim.” Hezekiah didn’t generically refer to some spiritual deity, but called upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Hezekiah then showed that he knew God’s dwelling place and connection to His people according to His promises to Israel. Hezekiah explained that God dwelt between the cherubim, referring to the two figures of angels on the Mercy Seat, which was the lid to the Ark of the Covenant. This reference shows that Hezekiah not only knew God’s name, but also understood how God made Himself known. God promised to dwell with the children of Israel above the Mercy Seat. God made His glory appear in this fashion at this place on the Day of Atonement so that the high priest could perform his duties of intercession for the sins of Israel.
Hezekiah realized that God made special promises to the children of Israel and swore to make them His people, which is why God appeared to them in the manner that He did. Hezekiah knew that the basis of God’s connection to the people was on account of mercy. His glory was supremely awesome, but it would be on the foundation of mercy that God revealed His glory. Hezekiah knew that he was not entitled to plead with God, but also pleaded with God understanding that God was merciful as evidenced by the manifestation of God’s glory. Therefore, Hezekiah’s prayer is reflective of his pursuit of God’s mercy. Hezekiah did not approach God to seek personal vengeance because he didn’t like the Assyrians. Hezekiah sought the mercy of God on account of the promises that He made to Israel, which the Assyrians were threatening.
Hezekiah also mentioned the holy nature of God as Creator of all things. Hezekiah acknowledged that God is able to do anything He pleases because He alone is God. The Lord is the Creator of all things – spiritual and physical. Who can contend with God and win? Hezekiah recognized the power and strength of the Assyrians, but also knew and trusted that God’s strength was FAR more superior! Hezekiah confessed that the threats of the Assyrians were legitimate. He referenced how the Assyrians had indeed destroyed many people. The ability of the Assyrians to conquer and destroy was no joke. It was not like Hezekiah’s trust in the Lord made him think that the Assyrians were a non-factor. Hezekiah recognized the gravity of the situation. Nevertheless, Hezekiah attributed more power, strength, and authority to God and pleaded with God to show His people mercy.
Next, Hezekiah exalted the righteousness and holiness of God. Hezekiah stated how God was different from the false gods and idols that the Assyrians had previously destroyed. Hezekiah acknowledged that the Assyrians had great success in overthrowing people that followed other deities, but also confessed that those deities weren’t real. How hard is it to destroy a foe that can’t fight back? Hezekiah confessed that the false gods and idols that he even purged from Judah were worthless, powerless, and merely the works of human hands. Hezekiah knew that the Assyrians felt proud because of their ability to fight against the strength of sticks and rocks. They were powerful, but only because they weren’t fighting gods that were alive. Hezekiah acknowledged the uniqueness of Yahweh Elohim. He is alive. He is able. He is functional. He is powerful. He is purposeful. He is wise. He is God and there is no other!
When Hezekiah went to the Lord in prayer, He sought the Lord for salvation from the Assyrians. Though the Assyrians were successful in destroying sticks and rocks, they were still successful and powerful enough to destroy many towns and civilizations. Hezekiah didn’t trust in his own understanding or strength. Instead, he forfeited whatever wisdom and strength he might have had and called upon the name of the Lord to be his savior. Hezekiah’s plea for salvation was communicated in his pursuit of God’s mercy. Hezekiah knew that if God would give mercy, God’s mercy would be sufficient to save from threats. This is how it works! Those who call upon the name of the Lord must know and recognize who He is and understand the basis of His promises. When people seek the Lord from salvation of any kind – especially eternal life – it is critical to recognize that the Lord’s salvation comes on the basis of mercy. None are entitled to God’s benefits. God’s people are able to receive God’s benefits because He restrains Himself from giving sinners what we all deserve.
The truth is, the people of Judah were sinful and rebellious towards God for a long time. The Bible shows that Hezekiah had issues with pride. God would have been just to let the Assyrians totally destroy the people of Israel and Judah alike. Hezekiah knew God’s character though. Hezekiah knew that God is faithful to fulfill His promises and that He alone is holy, righteous, just, and powerful. Hezekiah wasn’t looking for victory so that he could be exalted or receive comfort. Hezekiah’s victory and comfort would come from the exaltation of the Lord’s name. Hezekiah desired the joy that would come from God upholding His own name. Hezekiah wanted God to prove Himself as right and supreme against the Assyrians. Hezekiah wanted the Assyrians to know that the God they offended is mighty to save, but also is righteous to respond against those who deny and rebel against Him. Hezekiah wanted the world to witness the truth of Yahweh Elohim through the effects of the merciful salvation He alone brings.