Putting It All On the Table

In 2 Kings, chapters 18 and 19, we can read about the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah. During his reign, a mighty king, Sennacherib of Assyria, came to lay siege to Jerusalem. Sennacherib taunted King Hezekiah, sending him a letter boasting about the might of the Assyrian army, and all its conquests. In the letter, he also taunts King Hezekiah about trusting in God to save Jerusalem, suggesting that God was unable to rescue the Jews, while simultaneously suggesting that God had given the Assyrians His blessing.

Hezekiah had already made some provision for the coming siege. He had his workers divert the water supply that flowed out of the city, creating a system of tunnels that kept the water inside the city walls and filled pools and wells for the people to withstand the siege while depriving the invaders of a crucial resource. (Evidence of these tunnels has been discovered by archaeologists, including carvings by two work crews who were “competing” to see who could complete their part of the tunnel fastest!)

Entrance to Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Jerusalem

But Hezekiah did not trust in his preparations. He did not trust in diplomacy or alliances. He took the offending letter from King Sennacherib into the Lord’s temple and spread it out before the Lord (2 Kings 19:14). He prayed earnestly, never mentioning his own efforts and preparations, but reminding himself of God’s power and glory. He even acknowledged that the Assyrians had been victorious in their other conquests! But then he asks for God to rescue the nation– “then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God. “(v. 19).

I was struck as I read this recently. Hezekiah was a king. He had done a great deal to bring reform and renewal to the kingdom of Judah. He could have appealed to God on the basis of his own efforts. He could have asked for God’s help for his own sake, and for the sake of his people. He could have spoken about how Sennacherib taunted the army, or the king. He could have cried out in panic and outrage that God would allow Judah to be invaded. But he put it all on the table, literally, asking God to judge Sennacherib’s words and respond for the sake of His Sovereign Glory.

God DID respond, and the Assyrian troops were routed by the Angel of the Lord. Sennacherib returned to his home, and was assassinated in the temple of his false god by his own sons. Hezekiah’s troops didn’t even have to lift a finger!

What situations am I facing today, that need to be brought to God in prayer? What threats seem to hover over me? Do I respond as Hezekiah did? Or do I try to bring only the part that seems “too much” for me to handle? Do I bring my own agenda, or my own efforts to cloud the issue? Do I worry more about my own reputation than I do about God’s honor?

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

Lord, may I be more like Hezekiah–may I lay everything on the table before You, knowing that Your power is more than sufficient, and that Your honor and glory are greater than any force at work against me. Protect and defend those who humble themselves before You. Destroy those forces that would seek to exalt themselves and taunt Your Holy Name. Rise up, that “all the kingdoms of the earth will know that You alone, O Lord, are God!”

Praying for Time

I have a very bad habit of procrastinating.  I wait until the last minute to tidy up, make that important phone call, or write my latest blog entry…living alone for so many years, it went mostly unnoticed by others and unchecked by me.  My husband is very patient about certain aspects of this habit, but he has taught me much about the value of getting on top of tasks, instead of always playing catch up.

One of the lies I have told myself is that “I just don’t have enough time..” to do certain things.  But God has given every one of us the same 24 hours in a day.  Some of us have more unstructured time, but no one has more actual time than anyone else.  And I will always find time for the things I choose to do first–whether they are more important, more urgent, or just more fun.

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Time is a gift.  How we spend it shows how much we value it.  I can waste time, invest time, spend time, hoard time, share time, or lose time, but I can’t buy, sell, or trade for more of it.  I can pray for it– there is a precedent in the Bible.  Hezekiah was the king of Judah.  God told him that he would die soon, and Hezekiah prayed and wept.  God sent the prophet Isaiah to tell the king that he would grant him another 15 years of life, as well as deliverance from his enemy, the king of Assyria ( see II Kings 19 and 20).  Hezekiah was generally a good king, but in the extra 15 years that God granted him, he was foolish, and put his nation at risk.  Having more time didn’t make Hezekiah a better king, nor did it bring his nation peace and security…all it did was prolong his life and defer Judah’s destruction for a few short years.

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What makes time precious is that we don’t know how much of it we have here.  Our lives pass in a flash– what we do today in haste or wasted pleasure can’t be recovered.   But it can be redeemed.  I can learn to use time more wisely.   I can pray for good counsel in the stressful days as well as the times of leisure.  Rather than ask for more time, I’ve started to ask for more wisdom to USE the time I’ve been given.  I’ve been amazed at how much more I can accomplish when I seek God’s counsel about time, rather than worry and work at making “more” of it.  And some of the other things that took up so much of my time?  I still have time for some of them, too– after the important things get done.

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