It is 701 BC. Hezekiah is king of the southern Kingdom of Judah. “Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time. He remained faithful to the Lord in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the Lord had given Moses.” 2 Kings 18:5-6
The Assyrians have invaded Judah and are marching from victory to victory. They have amassed a large force just outside Jerusalem and are threatening to lay seige to the city. Things are grim.
The Assyrian king, Sennacherub, sends a letter to King Hezekiah pointing out that the Assyrians have defeated everyone they attacked:
“This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don’t let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria. You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different? Have the gods of other nations rescued them—such nations as Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Tel-assar? My predecessors destroyed them all! What happened to the king of Hamath and the king of Arpad? What happened to the kings of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?” 2 Kings 19:10-13
Facing overwhelming enemy forces and certain defeat, what does Hezekiah do? He repairs immediately to the Temple and lays the letter before the Lord.
The story continues: “After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord’s Temple and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord: “O Lord, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God. It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God.” 2 Kings 19:14-19
Oh for Hezekiah’s absolute clarity and confident faith, “But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands.”
PS: History records that the Assyrians were routed and abandoned their invasion.