Introduction: Our study this week involves one of my favorite stories
in the Bible. King Ahaz dies and King Hezekiah, who loved the true
God, is now on the throne of Judah. The problem is, as you will
recall, that Ahaz had made a deal with the Assyrians. The Assyrians
decided they would not simply take Ahaz’s bribe money, they would
take his whole country! Do you have impossible problems? Has your
father created difficulties for you? Need help yesterday? Hezekiah is
our “poster child” for dealing with serious difficulties. Let’s
plunge into his story to learn how a master handles impossible
- The Problem
- Read Isaiah 36:1. Imagine you are Hezekiah, the King of
Judah. What is the score in your battle with the
Assyrians? (The Assyrians have a perfect win rate. You
have lost every battle.)
- Why is this such bad news? (These are the “fortified
cities.” They are the cities best able to defend
- Read Isaiah 36:2-3. How serious is the problem now? (The
Assyrians are outside the city of Jerusalem. The Assyrian
field commander is at the Upper Pool!)
- Who attends the meeting? (Representatives of both
- Why would Hezekiah want a meeting? (He was
probably hoping for a way out of the problem.
However, I’m not sure Hezekiah had much choice.
If he had any choice, he would not have let the
Assyrian commander and his (v.2) “large army” so
- Read Isaiah 36:4-7. What is the Assyrian king’s motive for
meeting? (He wants to demoralize King Hezekiah. He wants
Hezekiah to surrender.)
- How would you guess Hezekiah’s mental state is at
this time? (Discouraged. Frightened. God had not come
through for him.)
- Have you ever asked God why He let your problems
become so serious?
- Read 2 Kings 19:9. How does Pharaoh fit into this
picture? (One commentary that I read said that Egypt
was the real target of the Assyrians. They were just
taking over Judah while on a march to Egypt. This
commentary also reports that Hezekiah had decided to
stop paying tribute to the Assyrians. In this he had
a promise of help from Egypt and Ethiopia. In 2 Kings
we see that Egypt is marching out to meet the
- Let’s get back to Isaiah 36:7. What are the Assyrians
saying about Hezekiah trusting God? (They say that
Hezekiah cannot trust God because Hezekiah was
unfaithful to God.)
- Is this true? Consider carefully what is said by
the Assyrian commander. (Read 2 Kings 18:1-4.
The allegations are not true. The Assyrians are
confused – they think that removing the “high
places” is a rebuke to the true God. In fact,
Hezekiah was destroying the places for worship
of the false gods.)
- Read Isaiah 36:8-9. Why would the King of Assyria offer to
give horses to the country he is about to attack? What
information about Hezekiah’s situation do we learn from
this offer? (Horses were a technological advance in
military weapons. This shows us that the Assyrians had a
calvary. King Hezekiah could not muster enough riders
even if he were given the horses. The point is that
Assyria is much more advanced in terms of military might
- Read Isaiah 36:10. Could this be true? Had it been true
during the time of King Ahaz? (It had been true in the
past. Recall our study of Isaiah 7:20 and Isaiah 8:9-10.
When we considered those texts we learned that God was
behind the military success of Assyria in attacks on
Israel and Judah.)
- How would King Hezekiah know whether it was true or
- Have you wondered if problems that you face are
part of God’s lesson for you or part of an
attack by Satan?
- How can you tell the source of your
- Does it matter whether you know the
source? (This was a big issue for
Job. As you may recall, Job’s friends
told him he was being punished
because of his sins. (See, e.g., Job
22:1-5.) Job wanted to “sue God”
because he did not think it was true
he deserved to be punished (Job 23).
Whatever the source of your problems,
I think the solution is the same –
you turn to God. You should examine
your life to see if it is out of step
with God. If it is, repent. But, in
any case turn to God for help. Job
would have saved a lot of grief and
energy if he had stopped defending
himself and accusing God and simply
said “God, I am in your hands. Please
- Read Isaiah 36:11. What is this request about? (They were
asking the Assyrian commander to speak to them in a
language that they, but not the “average Joe or Jane,”
- Should this have been a private conversation?
- Read Isaiah 36:12. What is the argument against having a
private conversation? (The average person is going to
suffer if the Assyrians attack. They are entitled to know
what will happen to them.)
- What would you call this approach by the Assyrian
commander? (Psychological warfare.)
- How much of the statement of the Assyrian commander
so far has been psychological warfare?
- Why would these people be in danger of the diet
suggested by the Assyrian commander? (If the
Assyrians laid siege to the city, the people would
have nothing to eat or drink.)
- Read Isaiah 36:13. Now the Assyrian commander makes the
pitch the Assyrian’s want to make to the “average Joe and
- Read Isaiah 36:14-20. What are the points that the
Assyrian makes? (1. Don’t trust King Hezekiah – he cannot
help. 2. Don’t trust your God – He cannot help. 3. If you
surrender, we will treat you nicely.)
- Notice verses 16-17. They say in any contract the
“devil is in the details.” What detail catches your
attention here? (The Assyrians intend to relocate
them. The “stay at home and eat and drink” is for a
limited time only.)
- The Assyrians make a different argument about God in
verses 18-20. First they suggested that King Hezekiah
had rejected the true God. Next they said that the
true God was “on their side.” What are they saying
now about the true God? (It doesn’t matter whose side
God is on. No god has ever been able to defeat the
- Does this argument have any credibility? (So far
the true God had not defeated the Assyrians.)
- Has Satan used this argument with you?
- Read 2 Chronicles 32:17 for an additional detail. Have you
ever said to someone, “Put that in writing?” The Assyrian
King wanted no doubt about what he was saying.
- The Response
- Read Isaiah 37:1-2. When you face serious problems, what
do you do first?
- What are the first two things that King Hezekiah did?
- How does this compare to what King Ahaz did when
he faced these problems? (Hezekiah immediately
turns to God. Ahaz turned to other people.)
- Read Isaiah 37:3-4. Is this a “save me?” or a “Your will
be done” prayer? (Hezekiah does ask to be saved, but he is
- What “argument” does Hezekiah make to God through the
prophet Isaiah? Is Hezekiah arguing that Judah
deserves to be saved? (No. Hezekiah argues that God
has been insulted. God’s reputation is on the line.)
- What do you think about this prayer? (I like the
fact that Hezekiah turns to God. However, I
prefer to plead for myself and not argue why God
should get angry with “the other guy.”)
- Later Hezekiah gets the letter we discussed before and he
turns to God. We see his prayer in more detail in Isaiah
37:14-20. Read this prayer.
- What do you think about this prayer?
- Who is the focus of this prayer?
- Do your prayers have the same focus?
- Read 2 Chronicles 7:14. What is our role in facing
- Read Isaiah 37:5-7. What is God’s response to Hezekiah’s
prayer? (He agrees to rescue them.)
- How will God rescue Jerusalem? (Read Isaiah 37:8. We
see that the Assyrian commander withdrew based on a
“report” that received.)
- If you have time, read Isaiah 37:21-29. This explains
God’s thinking and His role in these events on earth.
Verse 28 catches my eye: God says, “You may be angry and
insolent, but I know where you live!”
- What will be the outcome of the battle and the fate
of the King of Assyria?
- The Conclusion
- Read Isaiah 37:36-38. What part did Hezekiah and his
soldiers play in this victory?
- What was the end of the King of Assyria?
- What significance do you find in his place of
death? (He died in the “presence” of his god at
the hands of his sons.)
- Friend, this story illustrates the most fundamental truth
about facing impossible problems. Our job is not to defeat
the problem. Our job is, as 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, to
humbly seek God, repent of our sins and let God deal with
our problems. He is a great God, will you let Him do His
work in your life?
- Next week: Comfort My People.