The story of the siege of Jerusalem (2 Kings 18–19; Isaiah 36–37; 2 Chronicles 32) is not the most familiar story in the Bible. Not by a long shot. Dramatic though it is, the story isn’t among the key texts that one needs to read in order to understand the big picture of the Bible. It concerns long-gone empires, geographically and culturally distant lands, and a vast and politically incorrect destruction of bad guys.
Having said this, the combination of two elements in this passage make it particularly useful for us. First, the people of Judah were in a terrible situation, and the magnitude of God’s deliverance shines forth as in few other passages. Second, we have much detail in the Bible as to how the leaders of Judah, and particularly King Hezekiah, expressed themselves to God in seeking His deliverance.
In Sunday’s sermon, we dwelt particularly on how we as individuals could concern ourselves with God’s truth and want what He wants. We highlighted the closing words of Hezekiah’s desperate prayer: “So now, O LORD, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You, O LORD, are God alone.” Here Hezekiah prayed not merely for his own deliverance; he prayed that this deliverance would take place so that other nations would know that Israel’s God was the one true God.
This type of praying gets exciting when we apply it to the problems of those we care about who don’t yet follow Jesus. Why confine our prayers of deliverance to our own needs for deliverance? Why not consider that the needs of non-Christian friends, acquaintances, and strangers may be a means that God uses to enable them to see Jesus more clearly? If the “god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4), then maybe God wants us to pray for others’ deliverance so He will intervene and amaze them, and thereby take the blinders off their eyes!
Unlike Hezekiah, we have the benefit of knowing the rest of the story, the ultimate redemption found in Jesus Christ. We pray not simply that people will come to know God in some general sense through His deliverance, but that they will know Him personally through His Son, that He will enlighten them by giving them “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). That’s not as complicated as it might sound. Think of it this way: quality relationships with others enable us to hear and care about their needs. Our prayers for those needs provide a way for these people to see God’s deliverance when He steps in. Seeing God’s deliverance, coupled with our ongoing witness, directs them to Jesus.
Have you ever prayed for someone and seen God deliver that person, ultimately resulting in their coming to trust in Jesus? Please leave us a comment below!
Beau Stanley and his wife, Stacey, both grew up in the Columbus area and have been part of Grace Polaris Church for most of their lives. Beau joined the Grace staff in 2007 after theology studies in the Chicago area and in Phoenix (Phoenix Seminary). Prior to that, he studied commerce (University of Virginia) and worked in the financial industry, including a role as an investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs in New York City. Beau is a fitness enthusiast and also enjoys music and learning about diverse topics. Beau and Stacey have two young boys.