2 Chronicles 32:1-6
After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah (1a); And then, after this exemplary track record, this: Sennacherib…came… The Message. These opening words bring us face to face with the fact of unjust suffering. There is so much of it in this old world which, like Humpty Dumpty, has ‘had a great fall.’ It is not what God intended it to be. The reality is that ‘bad things happen to good people.’ Living a godly life is a good thing, but don’t think it is an inoculation against suffering. Don’t fall into the trap of surmising that you’ve had the vaccination and got the certificate and you will be okay. There seems to be an emphasis here on the great faithfulness of Hezekiah. He showed no ordinary godliness of character: so faithfully (underlining mine.) Even so, he ran right into trouble, although he was to come out of it well.
He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself (1b). What someone thinks to do and what they actually succeed in doing may well turn out to be two very different things. The enemy has plans to bring us down but his schemes don’t have to be realised. Our failure and his victory are not inevitable. Satan thought to defeat Jesus in the wilderness. But what he thought to do and what he did were not the same. He was the one who had to head for the exit a defeated foe. It’s true that he made other attempts. After a ‘time out’ in the corner he stood back up to fight. But he could never land the winning punch, try as he might.
Hezekiah saw the situation in its true colours (2). He faced the facts. He didn’t bury his head in the sand; he did not pretend things were rosier than they were. He was a realist. As he looked this scary situation fully in the eye:
- He consulted (3). We’ve already seen that Hezekiah was not afraid to draw on the expertise and wisdom of others. He wasn’t too proud to ask: …and they helped him. This is usually how it works out when a leader reaches out to others around him or her and says the five ‘magic’ words, ‘please will you help me.’ We will get far more good stuff done in collaboration than ever we will in isolation.
- He got to work (4-6). He worked hard and many joined him in this. They did what they could. You could say they prayed to the Lord and ‘kept their powder dry.’ As we are going to clearly see, this is essentially a story of trust in God. But that approach certainly does not preclude rolling up your sleeves and putting in some hard graft. They were going to look to God for victory against overwhelming odds. But they also took practical steps to help themselves and not assist the enemy.
Serving God faithfully is not a cast-iron guarantee that ‘Sennacherib’ will not come along. He regularly does. When you find yourself in such a situation you can trust in the Lord with all your heart. But also, do everything you can (in His mighty strength) to resist.
Prayer: Lord save me from an independent spirit and an impractical spirituality.