In response to the threats from Sennacherib via his representative, Hezekiah goes to the temple, evidently to pray. The fact that he rends his clothes and dons sackcloth shows that he is looking to God in his desperation rather than his own natural strength as king. He sends various officials to Isaiah in order to have the prophet pray about the situation, but also with the expectation that God will speak into the crisis. Hezekiah’s actions in seeking out Isaiah contrast dramatically with Ahaz’s behaviour when Isaiah had to find him when faced with a similar crisis (see chapter 7). (The reference to “the remnant” in verse 4 probably refers to Jerusalem as the last city standing after the Assyrian invasion of the southern kingdom of Judah.)
Isaiah’s response to the present crisis is to tell Hezekiah’s officials to tell the king not to be afraid as he did with Ahaz years before. Isaiah says four things will happen: i) God will influence Sennacherib with a powerful spirit, ii) he will hear a report, iii) he will return to his own land and iv) he will be killed. No time frame is indicated concerning these events, but apparently, very quickly, a change takes place in the military situation where Sennacherib leaves Lachish, a strategic city en-route to Jerusalem, in order to concentrate his forces at Libnah after apparently hearing about Egyptian troops advancing to attack.
It is strange that Isaiah does not at this point mention the extermination of great numbers of Assyrian troops outside Jerusalem that will prove decisive for the deliverance of the city (see verse 36 of this chapter), but it would seem likely that this sudden reprieve for Hezekiah as the Assyrians temporarily withdraw was meant as a sign of the greater deliverance to come.
In times of uncertainty, we would do well to listen to what God says. For Hezekiah the word of God from the prophet Isaiah was so important and for us we need to be rooted and established in what the Bible says so we can stand firm and hold on to the hope that is ours.
Prayer: Let’s pause and reflect. Hebrews 11:1 says “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” What does God’s word say we hope for? Are there areas where God has asked you to trust him that you are finding a challenge? Bring these before God in prayer. Pray for the Lord to grow your faith and your love of His word during this time. Let God speak to you.
Song: You say (awesome is He)