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Friday, September 15, 2017

Repeat.

Hezekiah, the king of Judah, is facing a battle, destruction, and deportation from Assyria.  Rather than prepare for battle, he prayed to the LORD.  God blessed that decision by telling Hezekiah not to worry – the Assyrian king will retreat and then be killed in his own country.  So everything is good, right?

"This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don't let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria. You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different? (2 Kings 19:10-11 NLT)

No, everything is not good.  Yesterday, we saw the result of Hezekiah’s trust in God’s Word.  What we are seeing today is the process Hezekiah had to go through to get to that point.  Eventually, the LORD did everything just as God said.  But, it didn’t happen immediately.  The Assyrian king made more threats first.  Hezekiah’s faith in the LORD was tested.  What did he do?

After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the LORD's Temple and spread it out before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the LORD: "O LORD, God of Israel, You are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open Your eyes, O LORD, and see! Listen to Sennacherib's words of defiance against the living God. "It is true, LORD, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all--only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. Now, O LORD our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that You alone, O LORD, are God." (2 Kgs 19:14-19 NLT)

Hezekiah prayed…again.  He didn’t need to pray to change God’s mind.  The LORD’s plan was revealed to the prophet Isaiah and delivered to Hezekiah.  But Hezekiah didn’t see the plan coming to pass right away.  So Hezekiah prayed.  He didn’t need to pray for God.  He needed to pray for himself, so that he would remind himself to trust God.  So, God responded again.

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent this message to Hezekiah: "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer about King Sennacherib of Assyria. And the LORD has spoken this word against him: "The virgin daughter of Zion despises you and laughs at you. The daughter of Jerusalem shakes her head in derision as you flee. "Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice? At whom did you look with such haughty eyes? It was the Holy One of Israel! "But I know you well--where you stay and when you come and go. I know the way you have raged against Me. And because of your raging against Me and your arrogance, which I have heard for Myself, I will put My hook in your nose and My bit in your mouth. I will make you return by the same road on which you came." Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Here is the proof that what I say is true: "This year you will eat only what grows up by itself, and next year you will eat what springs up from that. But in the third year you will plant crops and harvest them; you will tend vineyards and eat their fruit. And you who are left in Judah, who have escaped the ravages of the siege, will put roots down in your own soil and will grow up and flourish. (2 Kings 19:20-22, 27-30 NLT)

Not only did the LORD repeat his plan to Hezekiah.  He also gave Hezekiah more evidence to look at to trust God’s Word.  Now, Hezekiah knew to look forward to at least three years of peace culminating in a year that they would be able to plant and harvest crops again.  Hezekiah turned to God and the LORD encouraged Hezekiah.  He took another step in his walk together with God.  It is at this point of the story that the LORD followed through on his promise and the Assyrian king retreated to his own demise.  Hezekiah needed to pray, trust, and then repeat.

How about you?  Have you ever turned to God in prayer and through His word and received peace about God’s plan?  Have you ever gotten nervous again, even after receiving peace once before?  Did you return to God in prayer again?  Did you trust God’s Word again?  Did it help you to repeat the process.