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A Scary Challenge to Our Faith

Why do bad things happen to good people? Rabbi Harold Kushner answered that question in his bestselling book by arguing that God is loving but not omnipotent. Prominent atheists have said this is proof there is no god at all. The book of Job, however, offers a different answer: God has His own reasons that we might never know, but we can continue to trust in His goodness and faithfulness.

Hezekiah had been a godly king who led the people back to worship. Nevertheless, Sennacherib, the feared ruler of the Assyrian empire, decided to attack Judah (v. 1). We should never think that our godliness will make us immune to the trials of the world.

Many kings before Hezekiah had reacted to military crisis by seeking unwise alliances, worshiping idols, or listening to bad advice. Hezekiah, however, responded to the crisis in confidence and faith. He made preparations in Jerusalem to deter the Assyrian siege, and he reminded the people that the might of Assyria was no match for the power of God (vv. 2–8).

After Sennacherib unleashed a torrent of blasphemy intended to weaken the resolve of the people, Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah turned to God in prayer (vv. 16–20). They knew that prayer was a more powerful weapon than any sword devised by man. Their confidence remained steadfast that the Lord could save. God answered their prayers with a miraculous victory! Defeated and disgraced, Sennacherib returned home where he was assassinated by his own sons.

According to the world’s perspective, Sennacherib had all the power. But Hezekiah did not let trials take his focus from God. In the end, Sennacherib was humiliated and God was glorified.

Apply the Word

Billions of people need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of them live in countries ruled by Islam or communism, with Christian evangelism either restricted or persecuted. The challenge feels like Sennacherib coming against Hezekiah. We need to awaken each morning with cries to the Lord of harvest to send more gospel laborers.

BY Eric C. Redmond

Eric C. Redmond serves as a professor of Bible at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and as associate pastor of adult ministries at Calvary Memorial Church in Oak Park, Ill. He is married to Pam and they have five children. He is the author of Say It!  Celebrating Expository Preaching in the African American Tradition (Moody Publishers), Where Are All the Brothers? Straight Answers to Men's’ Questions about the Church (Crossway), a commentary on Jonah in the Christ-Centered Exposition Series (B&H Publishers), and a study guide on Ephesians in the Knowing the Bible series (Crossway).

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