Lesson 8

Prayers of Desperation: Hezekiah

(Isaiah 36-38)
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Introduction: A preacher told the story about a man who wanted to be sure he ended it all. Carrying a rope and a gun the man crawled out on a branch over a deep river. He tied one end of the rope around the branch and the other around his neck. At the instant he jumped off the branch, he planned to shoot himself in the head. He figured that if the bullet didn't work, the rope would. If the rope broke, he would drown. Sort of a triple back-up system.

Our study this week is about the prayers of Hezekiah. Hezekiah did not want to kill himself - he desperately wanted to live. But he could sympathize with the man on the branch. We will discover that Hezekiah faced a triple threat. Not only was he faced with losing his life work as king, he was in danger of getting himself and a lot of other people killed by enemy soldiers. Then he found out that if the soldiers didn't get him, he would die of a terrible disease. Let's jump into our study!

  1. Problem One

    1. Read Isaiah 36:1. Hezekiah was the King of Judah at this time. If you were king, what would you be thinking about now? (The fortified cities were best able to defend themselves. Hezekiah has now lost his best cities. The war is going very poorly.)

    2. Read Isaiah 36:2-6. The enemy comes right up to Jerusalem. What does this mean? (Jerusalem was the capital of Judah. It meant the enemy had control of all of the country except the capital city!)

      1. Do you agree with what the Assyrian field commander says in verse 5a -- that Hezekiah is full of hot air when he says he can win?

      2. Notice verse 6. Consider the way the field commander talks! Leaning on a splintered stick - that is a graphic word picture. Do you know what the commander is talking about? (There is a children's song about a lady who swallowed a fly, and then kept swallowing different animals (frog, snake, pig)to catch the animal she just swallowed. The kings of Judah were just like this lady! If you read 2 Kings 16 you will learn that Hezekiah's father, Ahaz, made an alliance with the Assyrians. He did that to chase off the King of Aram. The problem was he then started paying tribute to Assyria. Hezekiah, against God's will (see Isaiah 31:1-3), entered into an alliance with Egypt to chase off the Assyrians! How much better for Ahaz and Hezekiah to have turned to the Lord for help!)

        1. When you are in trouble, do you depend on other people rather than God?

          1. Do those other people sometimes feel like a "splintered stick?"

          2. Do sometimes need to get help to save you from what you thought would help you?

    1. Let's get back to our story in Isaiah and hear what the Assyrian field commander has to say. Read Isaiah 36:10-11. Do you think verse 10 is true? Did God send the Assyrians? Is it possible - seeing that Hezekiah seems to be relying on Egypt instead of God?

      1. Why do you think the leaders wanted the commander to speak in a different language that the common people did not speak?

        1. Of what were they afraid?

    2. Read Isaiah 36:12. Why did the field commander want to use the language of the people?

    3. Let's read his message to the people. Read Isaiah 36:13-18. Now do you think God sent the Assyrians?

      1. If you were one of the people living in Jerusalem, what would you think? Would you trust that God would deliver you?

        1. Was the commander telling the truth in verse 18? Did Isaiah 36:1 tell the people something? (The other gods had not beaten the Assyrians. Worse, Judah's God had not prevented them from defeating all the fortified cities. This was a real test!)

        2. On what did the commander hope the people of Jerusalem would depend? (He was hoping they would depend on what they saw, rather than their faith in God.)

      2. What is the commander saying in verses 16-17? (They were going to relocate the people of Jerusalem! They would take them into exile.)

      3. If you were Hezekiah, what would you be thinking? Remember you made this alliance with Egypt against God's advice!

  1. What Solution?

    1. Read Isaiah 36:22-37:2. Does Hezekiah turn to Egypt for help? To whom does he turn? (The God of heaven. He goes to the temple and sends for Isaiah, God's prophet.)

    2. Read Isaiah 37:9-11. Sennacherib is the king of Assyria. He hears that the king of Egypt (Cush) is moving to attack him. Do you think that Egypt is coming to Hezekiah's rescue?

      1. If you were Hezekiah, and you heard that Egypt was on the move to attack the Assyrians, what would be your response? Would you think that God sent the Egyptians to save you? Would you decide you no longer needed supernatural help to get out of this crisis? (Read Isaiah 37:14. Hezekiah turns to God.)

        1. Do you turn to God when things seem impossible, but then turn back to other sources of help when they seem to be sufficient to handle the problem?

  2. Hezekiah's Prayer

    1. Read Isaiah 37:15-16. How does Hezekiah start his prayer? Have we seen this pattern before? (This is the same element that we studied three weeks ago in Hannah's prayer ( 1 Samuel 2:2), last week in Solomon's prayer (2 Chronicles 6:14) and in Jesus' model prayer( Matthew 6:9-10). This is the praise element of prayer. Not thanking God for what He has done for us, but praising God for who He is. We see again and again that this is the way to start our prayers!)

    2. Read Isaiah 37:17-20. What kind of prayer is this? Does Hezekiah assume that God heard the words of the Assyrian field commander? (Hezekiah is having a frank discussion with God. He assumes God heard how the field commander insulted Him. He admits what the commander said is true for other gods, but challenges the God of Heaven to reveal who He is!)

      1. Is this a proper way to pray? Should we challenge God? (Moses did this. When God became angry with His people, and would consider destroying them, Moses would challenge Him to consider His reputation. How would it look if He took his people out to the wilderness and then killed them all? See, for example, Exodus 32:11-12.)

  3. God's Solution

    1. God gives two messages to Hezekiah through His prophet, Isaiah. Read Isaiah 37:6-7.

      1. Was God offended by the words of the field commander?

      2. What are God's first words to Hezekiah? (Verse 6: do not be afraid.)

        1. Is that God's message to you in time of trouble when you turn to Him?

      3. What does God say is going to happen to Sennacherib? (A "certain report" is going to cause him to return home - where he will be killed!)

    2. Read Isaiah 37:21-22. Why does God say He is answering Hezekiah? (Because Hezekiah turned to God. How important it is for us to turn to God with our problems.)

      1. Who is the Virgin Daughter of Zion? (Did you notice how verse 22 repeats the same idea? The Virgin Daughter of Zion is the same as the Daughter of Jerusalem. This refers to the people of Jerusalem. Barnes' Notes tells us that the form of writing here (parallelism) shows that this is written as a poem.)

      2. Why do you think it is written in poem form? (God intended that the people would remember and repeat what He said when they were threatened in the future.)

      3. What does the Virgin daughter say about the threat of the Assyrians? What kind of body language does she use? (She mocks them and tosses her head.)

        1. Is this true? (Certainly not when Hezekiah first came to God! The good news is that the most frightful problems can become nothing through the intervention of God. The question is, will you turn to Him first in times of trouble?)

    3. Read Isaiah 37:24-26. I asked before about God hearing the field commander. What do these verses say about God hearing it? What do these verses suggest about God knowing what is going on in our lives before we pray?

      1. Since God knew about this insult, was it necessary for Hezekiah to bring it to Him? (Yes! Verse 26 suggests that the whole sequence of events was intended by God to turn the people to Him.)

        1. What do you think about God allowing problems to come to us to lead us back to Him?

      2. Can you put verse 26 into today's language? (You think this was your idea Sennacherib? You think this was done by your power? I (God) planned the whole thing a long time ago!)

      3. Does Sennacherib believe this is true? (Do you remember what the field commander said in Isaiah 36:10? He told Judah that their God sent them. The Assyrians believed it - they just did not understand who was in charge.)

    4. Read Isaiah 37:28-29. Have you ever had someone say, "I know where you live." How did it make you feel? What is God saying to Sennacherib in verse 28? (I know where you live. More than that, I know where you go. More than that, you will go back by the same way you came!)

      1. Who does verse 29 say is in charge of the problems in our lives? (King Sennacherib is the problem, and God is in charge like a hook in the nose or a bridle in the mouth.)

    5. Read Isaiah 37:33-37. Did the people have to fight Sennacherib? How was his army defeated?

      1. What lesson do you find in this for dealing with day to day problems?

    6. Read Isaiah 37:38 and compare it with 37:7. What had God predicted about Sennacherib and his army? Did both predictions come true?

  4. More Trouble

    1. Read Isaiah 38:1. What other problem does Hezekiah face? Our lesson (Monday) says that Hezekiah was 39 years old. I had no idea!

      1. This verse starts out "In those days." Tell me how you would feel if you were threatened with being murdered by the Assyrians and at the same time you found out you had a terminal disease?

        1. How would you feel if God said He would save you from one threat to your life but not the other?

    2. Read Isaiah 38:2-3. What kind of prayer is this? (Hezekiah says he doesn't deserve this!)

      1. Do you agree with Hezekiah? (He was one of the most faithful kings of Judah.)

      2. Is this a prayer approach we should adopt? (Isaiah 64:6 tells us all our righteous acts are as filthy rags before God. I do not suggest this approach.)

    3. Read Isaiah 38:4-6. Friend, God is the solution to all of our problems! Will you seek Him first?

  5. Next week: The Prayer of Intercession: Daniel

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