King Hezekiah consults Isaiah about the Assyrian threat. Isaiah knows God’s mind, that the Assyrians won’t take Jerusalem. Indeed he knows the specific fate of the Assyrian envoy: he’ll die at his son’s hands.
He also knows a great pruning of Israel is coming from which only a shadow will survive, which he also refers to in his poetic response. And he is aware that even the Assyrians’ victories are God given, for all their arrogance.
We get a great affirmation of Jehovah above idols of wood and stone. There is an image of the people born in other countries being like weak doomed grass that takes root on the roof, which I found very poignant.
The story set me thinking about the relationship between knowing God’s mind and prayer.
The people and the king pray that God will hear the taunts of Assyria and act. Hezekiah is answered in those terms “God has heard your prayer”. But Isaiah knows God’s mind all along.
People tear their clothes in fear and despair when they hear of the Assyrian threat because they know it might be God’s judgement, or maybe because they don’t believe God is really in control of such a fierce force of evil. They ask for help, and this time they get it in terms they asked.
When the Babylonians returned less than a generation later, not so much.
God always responds like God. A bit like Jesus’ random encounters during his ministry… A catastrophic tower collapse may be talk of the day, or he may be at a wedding with inadequate catering, see a dead fig tree or meet a sick person.
And he thinks presumably “what would Jesus do”? And his responses fit the moment and the larger plan of salvation, and teach us til today about the nature of God. And it answers prayers then and now. It doesn’t really make a difference if its random or part of a master plan, because it all sings a consistent tune.
God is the same in the minutiae and in the grandeur, in the fleeting moment and in the millennia.
Because his truth and his character are eternal, unchanging. And he loves our faith, our prayer.