A chapter full of God’s power, focused on leadership. But despite winning battles they are losing the war, and it’s a strangely joyless narrative compared to the passover moment last chapter.
We hear a lot about fortifying Jerusalem, including engineering a brilliant water supply tunnel through solid rock that made Jerusalem virtually siege proof.
What is tacit is that the Assyrians take most of the land outside Jerusalem.
The commentators I read quoted the Assyrian account of the same campaign, which was a fine example of spin/ fake news. They simply talk about the land they were able to seize, fudge over what happened in the capital!
In contrast to the methodical preparations inside the city wall, we get a lot of the Assyrians psychological warfare, dissing God as just another of the many man-made gods that have failed to save the other nations the Assyrians have subjugated across the region.
After the long war of words, the victory over Assyria is extraordinary, God simply and mysteriously decimates the Assyrian army overnight and they run off. It’s tossed off, anticlimactic. No drama, no song of praise. God isn’t ready to let Jerusalem go, yet.
The narrative focus stays on Hezekiah, his brush with death and extension of life, his late life moment of pride and repentance, his tremendous wealth and prosperity.
The book has consistently been about leadership, obedience, and reward by God. This account fits that theme, but it’s not simple self aggrandising spin like the Assyrians, it’s more like sermonising.
And the slide towards defeat creates an inbuilt tension. Hezekiah is rewarded by God, however the larger judgement on the nation is closing in but they don’t want to talk about it yet.
And the post exile audience didn’t need to be told anything about the impeding exile… They’d just lived though it.
And they didn’t need to be promised miracles. They’d already been returned to Jerusalem against all odds.
It was most important to knuckle down and not repeat the cycle, to stay true to God though thick and thin.
In a way it’s not really resonating with me, but perhaps because it’s about the boring slog of an obedient life. Were called to discipline, not magic, and we’re to leave the meta story of salvation to God.
We are to work at our own path of godliness with consistent diligence, even if everyone outside the wall is cat-calling us. Living by faith sometimes means the labour of cutting a sensible tunnel through solid rock as well as sometimes being miraculously provided for.
Below:Hezekiah’s water supply… Still there!