How can we keep our faith when every indication is that our faith is misplaced?
How can we trust God to deliver us when others have fallen?
How do we respond when the world tears us down, and we have no tangible evidence that the world is wrong?
In Isaiah 36 we see just this type of situation. Sennacherib, the King of Assyria is planning an attack against Hezekiah King of Judah. This war is a slam dunk: Assyria has a massive army and a record of destroying every nation they come across. Israel simply cannot compete in any way against them. As the armies of Assyria surrounded all the cities of Judah, he focused on the capital city of Jerusalem. Blocking anyone from coming or going, the people will soon be starved out and have to surrender. There is no other option. With this in mind, the king of Assyria sends two messengers to make a deal and end this quickly.
It was not good for the people of Judah, but better than starving to death.
Yet, regardless of the insurmountable odds against them, King Hezekiah refuses to yield. Why?
Because in spite of what he sees, in spite of what he hears, and in spite of what he knows, he continues to trust in the promises of God against all odds.
We read that the Assyrian messenger tells Hezekiah’s messenger, ” 4 The great king, the king of Assyria, says this: What are you relying on? 5 I say that your strategy and military preparedness are mere words. What are you now relying on that you have rebelled against me?”
They simply cannot understand where Hezekiah gets his confidence. There is no reason for it and nothing to back it up. They then, in mockery, offer a deal:
“8 Now make a deal with my master, the king of Assyria. I’ll give you 2,000 horses if you’re able to supply riders for them! 9 How then can you drive back a single officer among the weakest of my master’s officers and trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen?”
In other words, I’ll even spot you 2,000 horses to come out and fight, and you’d still lose. I bet you don’t even have enough guys in there to ride them. Even if Egypt came to help, you’d still lose. You couldn’t take out my weakest soldiers if I helped you do it.
And it was all true. Hezekiah did not have the men, the strength, or the ability to defeat Sennacherib. So why did he not just surrender? Why not just compromise, admit that God was not really in this one and just and save as many lives as you could?
It was because Hezekiah believed that even against the odds God was still faithful, still trustworthy, and still in control.
Sennacherib’s messenger worked to spread fear and convince the people otherwise in verses 14-20:
“Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you, for he cannot deliver you.
“Don’t let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord will certainly deliver us!”
“Don’t listen to Hezekiah, for this is what the king of Assyria says: “Make peace with me and surrender to me.”
“Beware that Hezekiah does not mislead you by saying, ‘The Lord will deliver us.’ Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the power of the king of Assyria?”
“Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they delivered Samaria from my power? Who among all the gods of these lands ever delivered his land from my power?”
How often are we bombarded by those same things: “Do you really think God will deliver you? Anyone who says He will is delusional and using religion as a crutch in spite of the facts! Has anyone else’s God kept them from being destroyed? He is just not big enough, and you should know it. Your Bible is a lie and anyone who tells you to trust that nonsense is lying! Just give up, admit you have lost and it is over!”
The onslaught is constant and hard to overcome. Yet look what Hezekiah does – along with Isaiah the prophet, he prays: “Lord of Hosts, God of Israel, who is enthroned above the cherubim, You are God—You alone—of all the kingdoms of the earth. You made the heavens and the earth. Listen closely, Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, Lord, and see. Hear all the words that Sennacherib has sent to mock the living God. Lord, it is true that the kings of Assyria have devastated all these countries and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but made by human hands—wood and stone. So they have destroyed them. Now, Lord our God, save us from his power so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the Lord—You alone” -Isaiah 37:16-20.
God heard his prayer, and against all odds the Assyrian army was destroyed: “Then the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and left. He returned home and lived in Nineveh.” – Isaiah 37:36
God fought the battle and God received the glory! By standing by what he believed in spite of tremendous opposition and pressure to throw in the towel, Hezekiah prayed, and he believed.
As we face these no-win situations, may we have the same faith and same belief as Hezekiah. As everything around screams that our faith is a lie, we trust in the truth of God. The God who rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt, the God who rescued Judah from the Assyrian army, the God who saved you from your sins is the same God who is able to overcome your current situation, even when the odds are clearly not in your favor. Trust, pray, and just watch what He will do.