Friday

30 September 2011

"O Lord the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth, you have made heaven and earth." (v. 15)

Background

The author of 2 Kings liked recounting the military strategy of the all-conquering Assyrian army, led by King Sennacherib. (Verses 12-13 list some of their victories.) In 701BC the Assyrian campaign against Judah was based in Lachish, about 30 miles from Jerusalem. The Assyrians had put Jerusalem under siege; the plight of the people was now desperate. At the same time the army attacked Libnah, near Lachish. But Sennacherib then heard that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia was on his way to attack Assyria; so he needed to wrap up the Jerusalem problem quickly and defend his empire from external threats. Through Rabshekah (a high official), the king of Assyria repeated his message to King Hezekiah in Jerusalem: 'Your resistance is futile. Every other nation and their god has been defeated. You are no different.'

Even more, the author of 2 Kings wanted to clarify his faith-convictions against this backcloth:

  • The Lord is the one, living God - so is in no way at all like any other god (or idol).
  • The Lord is the God of all the kingdoms; indeed God made heaven and earth.
  • The Lord will not be mocked and reviled: God will act against blasphemers.
  • The Lord hears and answers the prayers of his people's faithful leaders.

The outcome was clear. The prophecy of Isaiah and the prayer of Hezekiah must be fulfilled. The besieged citizens of Jerusalem should not be afraid. God will save them. The siege will be lifted because, by the action of God, the Rabshekah will be distracted by a rumour, leave for Assyria and die by the sword. The glory of the living God will be known everywhere when Jerusalem is liberated.

 

To Ponder

In the modern world we stress the unknowable and unpredictable outcomes of current political events. What place is there for prophecy today?

A prophet must proclaim the truth of God. In the Christian view, God is most fully known in Jesus. How is each Christian best helped to bear a witness to Jesus which is genuinely prophetic? And how are you best helped?

Bible notes author: The Revd David Deeks

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