1. FAITHFUL LEADERSHIP
a. With what reasoning did Hezekiah encourage his people to face the Assyrians—and how had the words of Isaiah helped in this crisis? 2 Chronicles 32:7, 8 (first part); Isaiah 12:6.
“At the time of Hezekiah’s accession to the throne of Judah, the Assyrians had already carried captive a large number of the children of Israel from the northern kingdom; and a few years after he had begun to reign, and while he was still strengthening the defenses of Jerusalem, the Assyrians besieged and captured Samaria and scattered the ten tribes among the many provinces of the Assyrian realm. The borders of Judah were only a few miles distant, with Jerusalem less than fifty miles away; and the rich spoils to be found within the temple would tempt the enemy to return. But the king of Judah had determined to do his part in preparing to resist the enemy.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 351.
b. Why could Hezekiah trust in God’s help? Isaiah 10:12, 24–27; 14:24–27. How did the people respond to his appeal? 2 Chronicles 32:8 (last part).
“Nothing more quickly inspires faith than the exercise of faith. The king of Judah had prepared for the coming storm; and now, confident that the prophecy against the Assyrians would be fulfilled, he stayed his soul upon God.”—Ibid.
2. THE CRISIS ARRIVES
a. When, to all appearances, the prospects seemed hopeless for Judah, how did the Assyrian officers make things even worse? Isaiah 36:13–20.
“The long-expected crisis finally came. The forces of Assyria, advancing from triumph to triumph, appeared in Judea. Confident of victory, the leaders divided their forces into two armies, one of which was to meet the Egyptian army to the southward, while the other was to besiege Jerusalem.
“Judah’s only hope was now in God. All possible help from Egypt had been cut off, and no other nations were near to lend a friendly hand.
“The Assyrian officers, sure of the strength of their disciplined forces, arranged for a conference with the chief men of Judah, during which they insolently demanded the surrender of the city. This demand was accompanied by blasphemous revilings against the God of the Hebrews. Because of the weakness and apostasy of Israel and Judah, the name of God was no longer feared among the nations, but had become a subject for continual reproach.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 352.
b. How did Judah respond to the taunts of the haughty Assyrians—and what does this experience remind us about attitude? Isaiah 36:21, 22; 37:1–4.
“The same masterful mind that plotted against the faithful in ages past is still seeking to rid the earth of those who fear God and obey His law. . . . Persecuting rulers, ministers, and church members will conspire against them. With voice and pen, by boasts, threats, and ridicule, they will seek to overthrow their faith.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 450.
“When persons meet together for the investigation of points of faith concerning which there is a difference of opinion, the spirit which controls them will be manifested. Those who are standing in defense of truth should be calm and self-possessed. If they have the mind of Christ, they will be kind and courteous. They will not be betrayed into the use of harsh language. They will not regard themselves as infallible, nor look with contempt upon those who differ with them. They will not regard them as enemies, nor meet them with ridicule or jesting.”—Gospel Workers (1892), p. 389.
3. FAITH UNDER BLEAK CIRCUMSTANCES
a. At the peak of Judah’s crisis with Assyria, what message did God give to Hezekiah through Isaiah? 2 Kings 19:5–7. Why are these great historical experiences so important for us to contemplate?
“God would have us recall His dealings with His people in the past to save them from their enemies. He has always chosen extremities, when there seemed no possible chance for deliverance from Satan’s workings, for the manifestation of His power. Man’s necessity is God’s opportunity.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 714.
“Not in freedom from trial, but in the midst of it, is Christian character developed. Exposure to rebuffs and opposition leads the follower of Christ to greater watchfulness and more earnest prayer to the mighty Helper. Severe trial endured by the grace of God develops patience, vigilance, fortitude, and a deep and abiding trust in God. It is the triumph of the Christian faith that it enables its followers to suffer and be strong; to submit, and thus to conquer; to be killed all the day long, and yet to live; to bear the cross, and thus to win the crown of glory.”—The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 467, 468.
“Those who are finally victorious will have seasons of terrible perplexity and trial in their religious life; but they must not cast away their confidence, for this is a part of their discipline in the school of Christ, and it is essential in order that all dross may be purged away.”—Messages to Young People, p. 63.
b. During this crisis, what did Isaiah and Hezekiah do? 2 Chronicles 32:20; 2 Kings 19:14–19.
“Hezekiah’s pleadings in behalf of Judah and of the honor of their Supreme Ruler were in harmony with the mind of God. Solomon, in his benediction at the dedication of the temple, had prayed the Lord to maintain ‘the cause of His people Israel at all times, as the matter shall require: that all the people of the earth may know that the Lord is God, and that there is none else’ (1 Kings 8:59, 60). Especially was the Lord to show favor when, in times of war or of oppression by an army, the chief men of Israel should enter the house of prayer and plead for deliverance.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 359.
4. GOD OVERRULES FOR JUSTICE’ SAKE
a. What reassurance did the Lord send to the king and people of Judah? 2 Kings 19:20–22, 28, 32–34. What should we learn from the way God supplied their needs, though their land was laid waste? Verse 29.
“As were God’s people anciently, so we should be prepared to advance when the cloud rises and moves forward, and to halt when the cloud stops. We must adjust our movements to the guidance of God’s Spirit. In the place of following ways of our own devising, we are to cooperate with divinity. Thus we shall be enabled to keep pace with our Leader.
“In order to be a Christian, it is not necessary for a man to have great talents. The human agent may have no voice in legislative councils; he may not be permitted to deliberate in senates or vote in parliaments; yet he has access to God. The King of kings bends low to listen to the prayer coming from one who desires to do the Master’s will. An earnest prayer offered from a sincere, contrite heart is of more value in God’s sight than is eloquence of speech. God hears every prayer offered with the incense of faith. His weakest child may exert an influence in harmony with the councils of heaven. It is in answer to prayer that God revives His work.”—The Review and Herald, June 23, 1903.
b. In what sense does the fate of Assyria present a general principle for every age? Isaiah 30:27, 28; Proverbs 11:17; 16:18.
“With unerring accuracy the Infinite One still keeps account with the nations. While his mercy is tendered with calls to repentance, this account remains open; but when the figures reach a certain amount which God has fixed, the ministry of his wrath begins. The account is closed. Divine patience ceases. Mercy no longer pleads in their behalf.”—Ibid., June 3, 1915.
“ ‘The pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart away’ (Zechariah 10:11). This is true not only of the nations that arrayed themselves against God in ancient times, but also of nations today who fail of fulfilling the divine purpose. In the day of final awards, when the righteous Judge of all the earth shall ‘sift the nations’ (Isaiah 30:28), and those that have kept the truth shall be permitted to enter the City of God, heaven’s arches will ring with the triumphant songs of the redeemed.”—Prophets and Kings, p. 366.
5. HUMBLING THE PRIDE IN OURSELVES
a. What practical lessons should we derive from the experience involving Hezekiah, Isaiah, and the Assyrians? 1 Peter 5:5–7; Proverbs 16:18.
“There are many ways in which God can punish, and punishment will surely follow wherever pride is indulged. . . . Let a man be lifted up by a sense of his own ability, and trust in his human strength, and he will surely be overcome by temptation. God will bring him down. He will teach him his utter weakness, that he may feel his need of divine aid.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 21, pp. 332, 333.
“We should humble ourselves daily before God, and not feel that our wisdom is perfect. We should take hold of the work with earnestness. We should not pray for God to humble us; for when God takes hold of us, He will humble us in a way that we would not enjoy. But we must day by day humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. We are to work out our own salvation with fear and with trembling. While it is God that works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure, we are to cooperate with Him while He works through us. We must guard against lifting up our souls in self-esteem. But you will say, How am I to know that Christ is in my heart? If, when you are criticized or corrected in your way, and things do not go just as you think they ought to go—if then you let your passion arise instead of bearing the correction and being patient and kind, Christ is not abiding in the heart.
“Christ placed such a value upon man that He gave His own life to redeem him; and He requires every power and faculty of our being to be in perfect subjection to Him. But we are not to esteem ourselves only in the light in which God esteemed us by the cross of Calvary. Let us not be afraid to show our humility by kindness, courteousness, and forbearance. Do not let self arise and think, It is I they are trying to hurt by their false reports.”—The Review and Herald, July 12, 1887.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How did Hezekiah rise to the occasion in the face of the Assyrian threat?
2. How should we respond to the “Sennacheribs” in our life?
3. In the crisis Judah faced, how did God honor His ancient covenant?
4. What can we learn from the way Assyria’s apparent prosperity melted?
5. Name a few litmus tests that reveal our individual level of humility.