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

  1. The Problem

    1. 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.)
      1. Why is this such bad news? (These are the “fortified
        cities.” They are the cities best able to defend
        against invaders.)

    1. 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!)

      1. Who attends the meeting? (Representatives of both

        1. 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

    2. 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.)

      1. How would you guess Hezekiah’s mental state is at
        this time? (Discouraged. Frightened. God had not come
        through for him.)

      2. Have you ever asked God why He let your problems
        become so serious?

      3. 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

      4. 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.)

        1. 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.)

    3. 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
      than Judah.)

    4. 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.)

      1. How would King Hezekiah know whether it was true or

        1. Have you wondered if problems that you face are
          part of God’s lesson for you or part of an
          attack by Satan?

          1. How can you tell the source of your

            1. 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
              save me.”)

    1. 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,”
      would understand.)

      1. Should this have been a private conversation?

    2. 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.)

      1. What would you call this approach by the Assyrian
        commander? (Psychological warfare.)

      2. How much of the statement of the Assyrian commander
        so far has been psychological warfare?

      3. 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.)

    3. Read Isaiah 36:13. Now the Assyrian commander makes the
      pitch the Assyrian’s want to make to the “average Joe and

    4. 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.)

      1. 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.)

      2. 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

        1. Does this argument have any credibility? (So far
          the true God had not defeated the Assyrians.)

        2. Has Satan used this argument with you?

    5. 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.

  1. The Response

    1. Read Isaiah 37:1-2. When you face serious problems, what
      do you do first?

      1. What are the first two things that King Hezekiah did?

        1. How does this compare to what King Ahaz did when
          he faced these problems? (Hezekiah immediately
          turns to God. Ahaz turned to other people.)

    2. 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
      not presumptuous.)

      1. 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.)

        1. 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.”)

    3. 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.

      1. What do you think about this prayer?

      2. Who is the focus of this prayer?

        1. Do your prayers have the same focus?

    4. Read 2 Chronicles 7:14. What is our role in facing

    5. Read Isaiah 37:5-7. What is God’s response to Hezekiah’s
      prayer? (He agrees to rescue them.)

      1. How will God rescue Jerusalem? (Read Isaiah 37:8. We
        see that the Assyrian commander withdrew based on a
        “report” that received.)

    6. 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!”

      1. What will be the outcome of the battle and the fate
        of the King of Assyria?

  2. The Conclusion

    1. Read Isaiah 37:36-38. What part did Hezekiah and his
      soldiers play in this victory?

      1. What was the end of the King of Assyria?

        1. What significance do you find in his place of
          death? (He died in the “presence” of his god at
          the hands of his sons.)

    2. 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?

  3. Next week: Comfort My People.