Let’s just jump right into 2 Kings 19. Here we read about:
— Hezekiah’s quandary: What to do in the day of distress?
— Hezekiah’s reaction: Send word to Isaiah to pray for us.
— Isaiah’s response: Tell Hezekiah that God says, “Do not be afraid…”
— God’s promise: Tell Hezekiah that I will make Sennacherib want to return to his own country.
— Sennacherib’s taunt: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you…
— Hezekiah’s prayer: 14Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: “LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, LORD, and hear; open your eyes, LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. 17 “It is true, LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, LORD, are God.”
— Isaiah’s Prophecy of Sennacherib’s Fall: 20Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria. 21 This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him:
“‘Virgin Daughter Zion
despises you and mocks you.
tosses her head as you flee.
22 Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes in pride?
Against the Holy One of Israel!
23 By your messengers
you have ridiculed the Lord.
And you have said,
“With my many chariots
I have ascended the heights of the mountains,
the utmost heights of Lebanon.
I have cut down its tallest cedars,
the choicest of its junipers.
I have reached its remotest parts,
the finest of its forests.
24 I have dug wells in foreign lands
and drunk the water there.
With the soles of my feet
I have dried up all the streams of Egypt.”
25 ” ‘Have you not heard?
Long ago I ordained it.
In days of old I planned it;
now I have brought it to pass,
that you have turned fortified cities
into piles of stone.
26 Their people, drained of power,
are dismayed and put to shame.
They are like plants in the field,
like tender green shoots,
like grass sprouting on the roof,
scorched before it grows up.
27 ” ‘But I know where you are
and when you come and go
and how you rage against me.
28 Because you rage against me
and because your insolence has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
and I will make you return
by the way you came.’
29 “This will be the sign for you, Hezekiah:
“This year you will eat what grows by itself,
and the second year what springs from that.
But in the third year sow and reap,
plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
30 Once more a remnant of the house of Judah
will take root below and bear fruit above.
31 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,
and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.
“The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
32 “Therefore this is what the LORD says concerning the king of Assyria:
” ‘He will not enter this city
or shoot an arrow here.
He will not come before it with shield
or build a siege ramp against it.
33 By the way that he came he will return;
he will not enter this city,
declares the LORD.
34 I will defend this city and save it,
for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.'”
— God’s deliverance:
34 I will defend this city and save it,
for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’ ”
35 That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.
37 One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.
— Some may wonder: What is the point of bringing this story to light?
First, it is heartening to note that in the face of seemingly insurmountable opposition God provided words of comfort to His children.
Second, it is faith-building to note that God did more than send His people an encouraging message. He backed it up with strong deliverance!
Third (and this is point that I want to focus on today), in the midst of Isaiah’s prophecy regarding Sennacherib’s fate, God succinctly articulated a grand vision of the future for His children.
— God’s plan: Restore Israel’s vitality within three years, with the ultimate goal, simply stated in verse 30, being: Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above.
— What an astounding image this is! By God’s grace a day of distress is transformed into a season of renewal. A people living in fear of a marauding military menace witness their enemy’s army reduced to a field of corpses in one night and their God-defying leader skedaddle back to his homeland where he thought he was secure. However, death at the hand of his own sons in the temple of his own (little “g”) god awaited him.
— What does this have to do with us? As I reflect on this account it makes me think of the way we live in relationship with God today. At the core of God’s vision of life for people living in a kingdom relationship with Him we see the image of a God’s people, the house of Judah, industriously taking root downward and bearing fruit upward. The abundance of their crops and rich fruit from their vineyards seem to serve as a metaphor of what God intends for His children to do.
Since this is how God characterizes their lives, it stands to reason that those wishing to live in a vital relationship with God today should ask: How do we go about taking root downward and bearing fruit upward? I’m thinking that there might be a few readers that have some suggestions to share. So, I’ll leave the end of this post open, for now.
What do you think? How do we go about taking root downward and bearing fruit upward? Please share your thoughts.
© Bill Williams
August 11, 2006