Day 14 2 Chronicles 32:1-31 ... City under Siege

It was the greatest crisis that Hezekiah and Isaiah ever faced. The very survival of Judah was in peril, and what happened next had such significance that the Bible gives three different accounts: in this chapter, in 2 Kings 18-19, and in Isaiah 36-37.

Assyria, ever thirsty for more conquests, had just rolled into Judah, leveling forty-six walled cities and taking 200,150 captives. The Assyrian king demanded huge sums of money from Hezekiah, whom he mockingly described as "a bird in a cage." Hezekiah might as well have been in a cage, for siege armies completely surrounded his city. (In anticipation of the siege, Hezekiah had fortified Jerusalemâs walls and secured water supplies by digging a long tunnel to channel water from a spring to an underground reservoir. A tremendous engineering feat in its day, the tunnel was rediscovered in the late 1800s and is now a tourist spot in Jerusalem.)

Cowering behind his cityâs walls, Hezekiah once more turned to Isaiah for advice. Should he surrender? Negotiate? Outside, the Assyrians were directing a barrage of propaganda at Jerusalemâs demoralized citizens. They scoffed at Israelite hopes for a miracle from God. No gods had helped any other nation withstand the Assyrian juggernaut.

Isaiah, however, refused to panic. Against all odds, he calmly advised prayer and reliance on the power of God. Have faith, he said. Donât surrender, and donât fear. Assyria will return home, wounded.

Jerusalem looked like a doomed city during the siege by Assyria. But two things happened to fulfill Isaiahâs prophecy. First, a great plague struck the Assyrians (Isaiah 37), a plague also recorded by the historian Herodotus. Later, the murder of Assryiaâs leader brought internal chaos to that country and cancelled out the Assyrian threat.

The miraculous deliverance saved Judah, but only temporarily. In his latter days, Hezekiah foolishly flaunted his countryâs wealth before envoys from Babylon, a rising power in the East. The citizens of Judah grew proud as well; they became convinced that Jerusalem, Godâs city, was indestructible - a belief that would be proven tragically false.

Point to Ponder: Two verses from this chapter (v. 7 and v. 31) show that God may sometimes seem close, and sometimes distant. What makes the difference?