Bible Readings for November 6th
In 2 Kings 19, Hezekiah responds to the threats of the Assyrians at the doorstep of Jerusalem in two ways. First, he immediately seeks out guidance from the prophet Isaiah about whether Yahweh will come to Judah’s aid. Second, he spreads out the letter recorded from the words of Sennacherib before Yahweh, praying that Yahweh might save Jerusalem so “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone” (2 Kgs. 19:19). A part of us wishes we could have the same recourse that Hezekiah does, with the ability to ask a prophet when we need critical guidance from the Lord in our lives. This, however, overstates what old covenant believers received and overlooks what God has given his people today.
First, we should not think that such revelations were frequent in the days of the Old Testament, as though the people of God had full access to prophetic insights whenever they contemplated major life decisions. The vast majority of the time Israel, like us, had to pray, seek to obey Yahweh, and then to make choices based upon prudence and wisdom. Receiving such clear insight into God’s will in a specific situation was exceedingly rare.
Second, we should also remember that the Israelites did not have more of God’s word but less. Under the old covenant, God’s people did not have the full revelation of God’s word that we have on this side of the coming of Jesus Christ and the writing of the New Testament. Where Israel might have received specific guidance on a few critical points in history, they were not shown the big picture. In fact, Peter tells us that in Christ, we have been given access to revelation that even angels long to know (1 Pet. 1:12).
Third, we have assurances that Israel did not have. Yahweh’s relationship with Israel was built upon a covenant so that Yahweh would provide blessings if Israel obeyed, but Yahweh had also promised to curse Israel if they disobeyed (Deut. 28). From Hezekiah’s perspective, he really does not have any assurances that Yahweh will provide salvation in the midst of this situation, but he nevertheless throws himself upon Yahweh’s mercy in faith. We, on the other hand, have the promise that God is working all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28), since Jesus himself has taken our covenant curses upon himself in our place, clothing us in his own righteousness so that God promises to bless us—even if he brings significant suffering into our lives as a part of working all things together for our good.
How, then, do you respond to hardships, suffering, and persecution in your own life? Follow the example of Hezekiah to spread out the threats to your life before the Lord, trusting that God will glorify himself and seek your good for the sake of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.