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Posts Tagged ‘Hezekiah’


Isaiah 36Strategy

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Sennacherib and his troops play a central role in today’s reading; these several sites may have something you will want to know: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/article_index/s/sennacherib,_king_of_assyria.aspx

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/701sennach.html

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/534613/Sennacherib

Sennacherib

Isaiah 36 is the introductory chapter of an appendix inserted into Isaiah’s prophecy (and it parallels the account we can also find in 2 Kings 18).  When we read these verses carefully, we discover that this is more than an historical account.  It is also the story of fear and trust, loss and gain, rebellion against the Lord or obedience to him.  It is the story of failing and successful strategies.

In today’s Noontime, taunts are delivered to those inside the besieged city and if we read beyond this chapter – or if we recall the telling of this story from Kings – we will see that God never abandons the faithful.  We will also see that God has ways of resolving conflict that are far more creative, and far more meaningful, than any solutions we might devise.  Our only task – our only successful strategy – is to trust and follow God.

On what do you base this confidence of yours?  Do you think mere words substitute for might and strategy in war?

The commander ridicules his opponents for thinking that words alone will frighten his troops; he mocks them for their belief in an unseen God.  But he has also miscalculated.  Placing his confidence in military supremacy and acumen, he teases those guarding the city walls.  Perhaps the true reason for his jeering is that he knows that none of his gods can be stirred to help him.  He has conquered whole regions through the strength of his warriors, but perhaps he fears that he cannot conquer these people who believe in the authority of Yahweh and who have been saved so many times by this Living God.  He has heard about the God who saves the Israelites, but he has not personally experienced Yahweh’s awesome power.  Perhaps he cannot fathom a God who serves his people in such a faithful way.  He will soon have a lesson in obedience and trust.

On what do we base this confidence of ours?  Do we think mere words substitute for might and strategy in living?

As followers of Christ we know that words alone do not make us disciples; we must act in Christ and not rely on personal strength or a store of information.  James reminds us that we are to be doers of the word and not sayers only (James 1:22).  Thus, the strategies of the Christian fold into one plan: Love one another as Christ has shown us – do not judge, do not seek revenge, pray for all . . . even our enemies.

The ultimate end of the Israelite story is one all of us know and it teaches us the lesson that reliance on God when in danger is important but that ultimately we cannot succumb to corrupt and easy living.  We must be persistent in maintaining an honest relationship with God.  We must adhere to this new Law of Love rather than multiple empty rules that foster rote worship rather than genuine communion.

On what do we base this confidence of ours?  Do we think mere words substitute for might and strategy in living?

We base our confidence on God.  We substitute nothing for an authentic relationship with God and we publicly display this relationship daily in the way we treat others.  The only strategy we employ . . . is to hone true to God’s plan like a homing bird headed for home.


Image from: http://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/Rel302/Sennacherib.htm 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 5, 2011.

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joyThursday, November 13, 2014

2 Chronicles

Joy in Return

We move forward in our journey as we visit with scripture looking for stories about joy that will amaze us in a number of ways. To explore other stories in which joy surprises us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our stories are from 2 Chronicles.

Hezekiah is a name long connected with the people’s return to the covenant promises. Scholars tell us that he repairs and cleanses the Temple erected by Solomon to house the Ark; he destroys the bronze serpent reported to have been created by Moses for miraculous healing because it had become an object of idol worship; and he invites the people to a new celebration of a special Passover in which the faithful renewed their promises to God.

Hezekiahs tunnelOnce his house is in order, Hezekiah leads the people in campaigns to push back the Philistines and Assyrians. He pleads with God for a longer life in order to complete his work of the people’s return and God grants this request (2 Chronicles 32).  He directs the building of a tunnel to bring water into Jerusalem so that they might survive the Assyrian siege that blockades the city. And he is rewarded when God sends an angel of death to wipe out hundreds of thousands of Sennacherib’s enemy troops in an astounding miracle.

It is no wonder that we read today: There was great joy in Jerusalem, because there was nothing like this in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel. (2 Chronicles 30:26) It is no wonder that there is great joy in this homecoming. It is no wonder that there is great joy in this return to promises made . . . forgotten . . . and finally remembered.

Might we also find joy in our own returning to celebrate the many small and big miracles in our lives? Might we also find joy in recognizing the amazing, loving presence of the Living God?

To see pictures taken inside Hezekiah’s Tunnel, click on the tunnel image above or go to: http://www.livingbylysa.com/2012/05/hezekiahs-tunnel.html

For a video tour of Hezekiah’s Tunnel, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boC7lOV-1PU

For more information on the miracle against Sennacherib, go to: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112337/jewish/The-End-of-Sennacherib.htm

 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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Thursday, January 19, 2012 – 2 Kings 19:21-31 – Preparation

Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago: The Sennacherib Prism

We have spent time reflecting on Hezekiah and his story of fidelity to God.  Today we make this story our own with prayer.  We make preparation to strengthen our faith; we prepare to trust in God alone.   Written on April 19, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Have you not heard it?  Long ago I prepared it, from the days of old I planned it. 

Not only is God eternal, so are his plans.  This does mean to say that our lives are predetermined or predestined in any way.  What this does mean to say is this:  God in his infinite and merciful economy has devised a way . . . and this way turns all harm to good . . . for those who join his remnant in foreign lands and foreign times.  For those who return to the covenant promise, for those who remain in the Spirit of the Beatitudes, there is a certain reward: life in the light which is the Mystical Body of Christ.  This is the good news we have heard proclaimed all Easter Week.  It is the same good news we hear proclaimed today.  There is no greater story.  There is no happier word.  There is no other love that waits in this way . . . for all to turn and return.

Caravaggio: Doubting Thomas

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, or to others, Doubting Thomas Sunday in which we see one of Jesus’ own friends and disciples refuse to believe in the resurrected Christ until he is able to experience his visit with his own senses.  Out of overwhelming love and compassion, Christ returns to a locked room to comfort his remnant, to encourage his bride, the church.  As we have said before, there is no greater story.

In today’s reading, the king of Israel, Hezekiah, follows God’s advice and allows God to overcome the enemy king of Assyria, Sennacherib.  We have spent time reflecting on this incident before but today we focus on the isolated words of the Lord . . .

Have you not heard it?  Long ago I prepared it, from the days of old I planned it. 

And just as Yahweh turned harm to good in the story of Hezekiah and in the story of Jesus, so too does he move in our lives today.  We remember that the angel of the Lord struck down enemy troops.  We remember that the Lord himself came to save us on the cross.  And we also remember that even after his death he returned to the locked room where he friends hid in fear . . . to open hearts, to open minds, to open up the darkness to the light, to open up the stinginess of the world to his love.

As remnant, we do well to prepare to receive this deepest of hopes, this most powerful of forces, this irresistible love that cannot be quenched.

From the MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer: Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

That we may praise your power among those who are poor in faith, and encourage them by our good example.  Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

That we may praise your love among those who do not know you, and be Christ’s ambassadors to those who seek with sincere hearts.  Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

That we may praise your glory among those who fear death, and show them the path to life.  Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

May God keep us firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Evening Prayer.” MAGNIFICAT. 19.4 (2009): 129-130. Print.  

For more information on the Sennacherib Prism, click on the image above or go to: http://bibleandarchaeology.blogspot.com/2010/12/ancient-record-of-biblical-king.html

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Wednesday, January 18, 2011 – 2 Kings 19 – Fidelity is its Own Reward

We spent time reflecting on Hezekiah on Monday, today we look at another part of his story with a Noontime from November 24, 2008 posted today as a Favorite. 

Rubens: The Downfall of Sennacherib

As we read today’s Noontime, where have the opportunity to think about where we stand in human history.  The Assyrians with their leader Sennacherib have conquered the northern tribes that had broken away after Solomon’s death and now they stand ready to take Jerusalem.  Hezekiah, working closely with the prophet Isaiah, listens to Yahweh’s advice . . . and Jerusalem is spared the impending invasion.  In addition, we know from contemporary documents that two factors cause Sennacherib to turn away from Jerusalem: a plague came upon his troop encampment killing 185,000 soldiers, and word reached the Assyrians that Tirhakah of Egypt was marching out against them.  Sennacherib was later killed by his two sons (Adrammalech and Sharezer) while worshiping in the temple of Nisroch.  (ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE 562.) 

The themes we have seen in this portion of 2 Kings are the healing of Hezekiah, Yahweh’s intervention in human events, the importance of spiritual reform and preparation, and the high value placed on fidelity by Yahweh.

Several verses call us to deeper reflection. 

Verse 4: So send up a prayer for the remnant that is here.  Hezekiah and Isaiah know that the north has been lost . . . but they do not give up hope or faith.  They petition on behalf of the faithful who remain.

Verse 6:  Do not be frightened by the words you have heard, with which the servants of the King of Assyria have blasphemed me.  The Lord replies with words of comfort for these faithful servants.  The Lord reminds them that he will not only take care of his faithful remnant, but he will also address the wrongs done to them by their enemies.

Verses 15 to 19:  You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.  You have made the heavens and the earth.  Incline your ear, O Lord and listen!  Open your eyes, O Lord, and see!  Hezekiah prays to Yahweh in the temple.

Verse 34:  I will shield and save this city for my own sake, and for the sake of my servant David.  The Lord replies.

Verse 35: That night the angel of the Lord went forth . . .

What do we know about ourselves?  We live in a tumultuous world which is ever ready to dismiss or overrun the faithful servants of Yahweh.  We will be challenged as New Testament apostles of this one true God.  Our ideas, our families will be invaded by forces which seek to diminish the voice we carry in solidarity. 

What must we do when we are under attack?  We have need of only one place of supplication . . . the temple of our inner heart where the Holy Spirit dwells.  We have need of only one name . . . Jesus Christ.   We have need of only one God . . . the one who is supreme above all others . . . and this God alone is enough.  Remaining faithful to God brings salvation.  Fidelity brings lasting justice.  Fidelity beings eventual peace.  Fidelity to God is always accompanied by its own reward. 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 562. Print.

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Monday, January 16, 2012 – Isaiah 39 – Peace and Truth

Hezekiah's Tunnel

This chapter brings to a close the first portion of Isaiah’s prophecy and prepares us to hear what the prophet has to say in the rest of his prophecy.  We witness Hezekiah’s hospitality and hear the conversation he has with the prophet, Isaiah; and we want to know more about this man who becomes king at age 25, and who reforms his government and his people while reigning successfully for 29 years.  Today we also witness a harbinger of events to come . . . the invasion of Judah and the deportation of her people.  Hezekiah does not allow ominous omens to diminish his faith.  He does not waver from his belief that Yahweh saves.  And he makes certain to foster peace and truth in all that he proclaims and does.  To examine the story of Hezekiah more closely, we return to a reflection we shared on January 11, 2009 on 2 Kings 18 and 19 entitled Desperation. 

We have taken a look at Hezekiah, son of idolatrous Ahaz, a half dozen times since we began our Noontime reflections; and each time we pause with him, I am always impressed by his fidelity and perseverance.  Having Ahaz as a father, Isaiah as a prophet, and Sennacherib as an adversary . . . Hezekiah seems doomed to a story of failure.  Yet he is not.  To read more about him, turn to Chronicles or go to these sites http://www.varchive.org/tac/hezekiah.htm http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/p82.htm and http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_hezekiah.html. Discover how the people build an amazing tunnel under his guidance to bring water to the besieged city.  Read about how he consults with the prophet Isaiah who speaks plainly about their dire straits.  Read about the odds that confront this man and this nation . . . and be amazed.  Through many trials Hezekiah is accompanied by the God who accompanies us. 

We may want to review Chapter 18 of 2 Kings to understand where we are in the story.

  • Verse 3: Thus says Hezekiah: “This is a day of distress, of rebuke and of disgrace”.
  • Verse 4: So send up a prayer for the remnant that is here.
  • Verse 5: Thus says the Lord: “Do not be frightened by the words you have heard”.
  • Verses 15 – 19: Hezekiah prays in the Lord’s presence: “O Lord . . . incline your ear . . . and listen!  Open your eyes, O Lord and see!  . . . Save us . . . that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God”. 

    Pool of Siloam and the end of Hezekiah's Tunnel

God hears the prayer and answers Hezekiah.  In Chapter 20, Hezekiah falls ill and God rescues him.  This ruler is destined to serve God and through perseverance he does so . . . and he does so quite well.  We can reflect on the life of this servant to compare it to our own.  When the Assyrians in our lives are at the gates, will we go immediately to the Lord God to ask him for help or will we rely on our own resources?  And when the Lord God has answered our prayers – no matter the response – do we give thanks and continue to trust in God? 

We find ourselves in distress and disgrace . . . God hears our prayer and answers us.  Do not be frightened by the words you have heard.

We send up our prayer to God who accompanies Hezekiah and all the faithful . . . God hears our prayer and answers us.  Do not be frightened by the words you have heard.

We are desperate and tempted to turn to our own resources . . . but let us instead go up to the Temple of the Lord and enter the Holy of Holies . . . to lay our petition on the altar of the Lord our God . . . and let us say. . .

Save us . . . that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.  Amen. 

For more information on the excavation of Hezekiah’s tunnel, see: http://www.bibleplaces.com/heztunnel.htm  and http://www.hellotravel.com/israel/walking-through-hezekiahs-tunnel 

For other Noontime reflections on Hezekiah, see The Book of Micah: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/micah-doom-and-hope-constancy/  and False Idols: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/10/29/false-idols/

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