A Case of Insurmountable Odds

Before we start, read chapters 36 and 37 of Isaiah. It’s an incredible story of God’s provision when things were looking hopeless for Israel. The rest of this devo will make much more sense if you do.

Let’s look at a key moment in this story where Hezekiah prays in Isaiah 37:14-20.

Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 

15 And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 

16 “O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 

17 Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 

18 Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 

19 and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 

20 So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.”

Read it again, slower, and put yourself in Hezekiah’s sandals. What must he have been feeling?

Chapter 36 outlines the aggressive brutality of the Assyrians. The Israelites were severely outnumbered. They were doomed to face insurmountable odds on the battlefield or death by starvation inside their own city. As king of the Israelites, Hezekiah wasn’t having a Sunday picnic in the park. What did he do?

His first reaction was to go up into the house of the Lord and pray. Hezekiah was by no means a perfect man, as chapter 39 demonstrates. But here the first thing he did was fall on his knees before the Lord of heaven and earth and cry out for mercy. Shouldn’t we all continually do the same?

What he prayed was not “Lord, make this problem go away” or “Lord, why are you letting this happen to us?” but “Lord, you are king of the universe and have all power and control in the earth” (paraphrase). He started out worshipping his Creator.

When he finishes his prayer, Hezekiah asks God to save His people– not so that the massive inconvenience of the Assyrians would go away, or that the people might survive a little longer, but so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that [God] alone [is] the LORD (verse 20). Hezekiah’s heart is in the right place when he prays. He places God’s honor and glory above his own needs, emotions, and concerns.

What does God do when Hezekiah wisely turns to Him first and prays with a godly heart and intention? God says, “I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David” (verse 35). What God does next is a complete reversal of the insurmountable odds facing Hezekiah and the Israelites. God honors the heart that seeks Him. Read about it in verses 36-38.

How can we exercise the trust and faith that Hezekiah demonstrated?

Pray through Isaiah 36-37 today. Ask God to change your heart into one that loves and prioritizes Him above all else. Then think and journal about the Dig Deeper questions.

Dig Deeper

When something bad happens, do we start agonizing over what to do? Do we take action immediately? Do we go to friends or family for help? Or do we first take our concerns straight to God?

When we pray, are we giving God a laundry-list of things to do for us? Or do we recognize God’s power and control over all things, especially things we don’t understand?

When we ask God for things, are we asking so that we can get what we want or so that He may be known and glorified?

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