A Glimmer of Light in the Shadow of Death: an Advent Devotional (Part 2)
Weeks ago, we studied the story of Hezekiah and Sennacherib from 2 Chronicles 29-32. Today, we find the same story of Sennacherib’s attack on Judah. This time, looking at 2 Kings 18, a surprising fact emerges: Sennacherib, king of Assyria, surrounded Judah just eight years after Samaria was taken (see 2 Kings 18:9-13). Reading the Bible within context will always give the best understanding of a passage. In this case, we learn that, within the interval of a few years, Assyria attacks both the Northern and Southern Kingdom--one nation is taken and the other one is spared.
Samaria was besieged in the fourth year of Hezekiah’s reign; the ten tribes to the north were exiled to Assyria in his sixth year (2 Kings 18:9-10). No doubt, the incident had a great impact on Hezekiah and Judah. For one, the divided kingdom of Israel was now a southern remnant; historians report an explosion in Judah’s population caused by refugees from the north. Second, fear of Assyria (the superpower of the day) must have gripped the region. If so, imagine the anxiety when Sennacherib shows up just eight years later with these words: “Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?... Have they rescued Samaria from my hand?” (2 Kings 18:33-34). It was true. Samaria had been crushed by Assyria...would that same hand now wreck Judah?
Hezekiah faces Sennacherib’s threats with humility and prayer and God hears him (2 Kings 18:14-20). Again, we see God’s great compassion for His people. He had secured Israel in the time of Jeroboam II and He does the same for Judah in the days of Hezekiah. The prophet Isaiah meets Hezekiah with these words from the Lord: “I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant” (2 Kings 19:34). The idols of Samaria were only the work of men’s hands, they could not save. For the sake of His own name, God shows the nations that “No one who hopes in Him will ever be put to shame” (Psalm 25:2-3). God remembers David and preserves his lamp in Jerusalem (1 Kings 11:36).
We leave our post today with a glimmer of light before Judah’s eventual darkness. Our own world today seems to be ever darkening. Pray with me now that the Sunrise might “visit us from on high, bringing light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:78-79). Even so Lord Jesus, come!
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