Revivals Under The
Good Kings of Judah
Brother Naismith wisely applies spiritual lessons from the Old Testament characters encountered in the divine records of revivals in Israel.
IV. Hezekiah (2)
The third section of the people upon whom devolved considerable responsibility during King Hezekiah’s reign was the army. Worship and work were followed by warfare. To the captains of war, the king, addressing his third important injunction — “Be strong and courageous; be not afraid nor dismayed” — recommended a
Resolute Reliance on the Lord
Two very different kinds of enemies had to be met and overcome in the course of the revival; first, the infernal, invisible, Satanic adversaries that had invaded and in large measure subdued the people of Judah by binding and corrupting their minds; and later, the tangible enemies represented by earthly potentates and their armies, doubtless under the control of satanic powers. In order to withstand both these classes of hostile belligerents, the warriors in Judah must heed their monarch’s wise counsel. In neither conflict could they rely on the arm of flesh or on carnal weapons, but on the living God. In spite of the numbers and strength of their assailants, Hezekiah could add by faith a message of encouragement, “There be more with us than with them.”
The destruction by the people of the images, idolatrous groves and high places broke the power of the” wicked spirits in heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). The serpent of brass that God had given to the people in the wilderness, a type of the Redeemer Who was to be lifted up as the only way of life and deliverance from the curse of sin, had become an object of worship. Preserved first as a precious historical memorial, it had, like many other relics, usurped the place of the living God in the hearts and affections of many and was receiving the reverence and adoration due to the Lord alone. For centuries incense had been offered to it. Recognizing what a snare this emblem had become to God’s chosen people, Hezekiah broke it into pieces, calling it a mere piece of brass — Nehushtan — and thus brought to an end the idolatrous worship of the serpent by the people of Israel and Judah (2 Kings 18:4). Temporal prosperity and success in withstanding the tyranny of the Assyrians and in subduing their ancient enemies, the Philistines, followed in the wake of this and other spiritual victories.
In the twenty-third year of Hezekiah’s reign (B.C. 705), Sennacherib succeeded Sargon as ruler of Assyria. The arrogance of Sennacherib manifests itself in the eulogistic inscriptions found on his monuments, in which he describes himself as “the great king, the powerful king the diligent ruler, the favourite of the great gods, the king of the Assyrians, of the nations, of the four regions, the establisher of monuments, the noble hero, the strong warrior, the first of kings, the punisher of the unfaithful, the destroyer of wicked men.” In a concatenation of triumphs over one nation and another he subdued all the neighbouring kingdoms and left Judah an isolated target for his attack. The king of Judah took every possible precaution against the invading army by repairing breaches in the city walls, erecting towers and fortifications, refurnishing his armoury, encouraging his leaders, and stopping up the wells and fountains in the neighbourhood of his capital to prevent the enemy from finding supplies of water. The details of the invasion of Jerusalem are given in the opening verses of 2 Chronicles 32: Verse 1 — the enemy’s approach: verse 3 — the unity of Judah’s leaders: verses 4, 5 — the preparations for the combat: verses 6-8 — the encouragement of the army.
Sennacherib’s vaunted might and defiance of Hezekiah’s God were proclaimed by the chief eunuch and the chief cupbearer of the Assyrian despot from a vantage point just outside Jerusalem. Insulting, blasphemous letters were also written, one of them addressed and sent to Hezekiah. Seeking the refuge of the Sanctuary, Judah’s king spread the letter before the Lord and poured out his heart in supplication to his God. The reassuring message of Jehovah through His prophet Isaiah imparted to Hezekiah the strength and courage that he had himself enjoined on his captains. “Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard” (2 Kings 19:6).
In the believer’s good fight of faith against principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world’s darkness, against the wicked spirits in heavenly places, there comes to the soldier of Jesus Christ the same exhortation that came to Joshua, to Asa, and to Hezekiah and his warriors as they faced their foes: “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.”
That night the living God wrought a miracle, and the great Assyrian army, encamped around Jerusalem, was annihilated. In his “Hebrew Melodies” Lord Byron has vividly described the intervention of the Lord of hosts and the deliverance of His people in the scattering of the arrogant Assyrian monarch’s hosts.
“The Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming with purple and gold;
Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green,
That host, with their banners, at sunset was seen.
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn has blown
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.
For the angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved and for ever grew still:
And there lay the steed with his nostrils all wide,
Though through it there rolled not the breath of his pride.
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances uplifted, the trumpets unblown.
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Had melted like snow in the glance of the Lord.”
The Assyrian defeat brought glory to God and gifts to His servant Hezekiah (2 Chron. 32:23).