Explore The Bible Study: God Hears

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What does it mean when we say someone's back is against the wall? According to the Idioms Dictionary, the phrase, “back against the wall,” originated in the 1500’s and it was used by military units. To have one's back against the wall meant that a military unit was stranded or caught in a difficult situation where coming back alive was only a slim possibility. The Explore the Bible Study: God Hears, will help you determine how best to respond when your back is against the wall.

2 Kings 18 describes when Hezekiah became king of Judah (The Southern Kingdom) and acted to turn Judah back to God (2 Kings 18:1-6). The king challenged the priests and Levites to help him bring about spiritual renewal (2 Chronicles 29:3-19). Hezekiah then restored the sacrificial system, and the Levites and people praised God and celebrated (2 Chronicles 29:20-36). 

The king then invited all Judah AND people left in Israel to celebrate Passover in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 30:1-6). Many northern citizens (Israel) mocked Hezekiah’s invitation, but others came (2 Chronicles 30:7-12). The people celebrated the Passover at a level they had not done since Solomon’s days (2 Chronicles 30:13-27). This was all taking place while Sennacherib, king of Assyria, was trying to control Hezekiah and the Southern Kingdom (2 Kings 18:13-37).

Isaiah the prophet advised Hezekiah to remain strong and to keep trusting God (2 Kings 19:1-7).  This infuriated Sennacherib when he heard that Hezekiah was considering the prophet Isaiah’s advice. The king of Assyria sent a delegation to Jerusalem, whose mission was to taunt and intimidate Hezekiah and the people of God.  This is when Hezekiah realized that his and the kingdom's backs were against the wall.

But being against the wall is sometimes where we need to be before we talk with God about our situation. When you seek God during those situations with honesty and humility, God will listen and respond.

2 Kings 19:10-13 describes how they taunted the people of God for their faith in God.

You will be taunted when you trust and honor God – 2 Kings 19:10-13

The Assyrian spokesmen gave the message orally and then in writing. They likely delivered it loudly for all to hear. They knew how to work through intimidation. The focus was not on Hezekiah, but on Hezekiah’s God. thus putting God’s honor at stake.

The spokesmen reminded Judah of what had happened to other kingdoms that opposed Assyrian kings—they completely destroyed them. In light of the Assyrians’ perfect record of victories, the spokesmen responded arrogantly with a question—so will you be spared? In his taunt, the spokesman was calling Hezekiah to consider carefully the potential implications of his choices. Did he really want to challenge the mighty Assyria?

The taunting continued with questions that placed Holy God on the same level as the gods of other nations. He mocked Holy God by saying that Holy God could not rescue them because he was just like the other gods that didn’t protect the other kingdoms. The taunting continued with a list of victories given to Judah in an effort to intimidate them into giving up.

Pride often leads to greater acts of arrogance. The more victories the Assyrians won, the prouder they became, the more they thought themselves invincible, the less they felt there was any god who could defeat them.

In what ways might we be taunted for trusting God today? How do the taunts and intimidations for our faith make us feel? How do we respond?

What you should do when your back is against the wall – 2 Kings 19:14-19

Notice the steps Hezekiah took:

  1. He went before the Lord (2 Kings 19:14)
  2. He laid the problem before the Lord (2 Kings 19:14)
  3. He prayed to the Lord (2 Kings 19:15)
  4. He acknowledged the ultimate authority and sovereignty of the Lord (2 Kings 19:15)
  5. He appealed to the Lord to listen, hear, open His eyes, and see how the Assyrians were mocking Him. Hezekiah’s use of these verbs called God’s attention to the urgency of the situation (2 Kings 19:16)
  6. He acknowledged his fear of the powerful Assyrians because of their past victories over other kingdoms, while acknowledging that the gods of those kingdoms were only gods made by human hands (2 Kings 19:17-18)
  7. He asked God to intervene for the right reason – “so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are God – you alone.” (2 Kings:19:19)
Notice how Hezekiah’s final request focused on God and not Hezekiah or Judah. 

When most people ask God to deliver them from difficult situations, do they usually ask God to do it so that the kingdoms of the earth may know that the Lord is God and God alone? 

What do most people desire when they ask God to deliver them from a desperate situation?

Which of these steps have you taken when your back was against the wall? Which of these steps do you find most difficult to take?

While Hezekiah did ask for deliverance, it wasn’t so they could enjoy life again. It wasn’t so they could feel safe again. It wasn’t because he desired Judah to be great again. It was because he desired for all the kingdoms of the earth to know that the Lord was certainly God and God alone.

Believers can and should humbly approach. Hezekiah came to God asking Him to intervene so the nations would see His glory. Likewise, when we come to God in prayer, pleading for specific answers, our desire should be for His glory. 

How might God show His greatness through a serious challenge you, your family, or your church is facing right now? Perhaps He is waiting for you to ask Him to show His glory in that situation.

While we know that God answers prayer in different ways, we see in the next passages that God did hear Hezekiah’s humble prayer of desperation and He responded. But God didn’t speak directly to Hezekiah. Verse 20 tells us that God spoke through His prophet Isaiah – Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “The Lord, the God of Israel says, ‘I have heard your prayer to me about King Sennacherib of Assyria.’ 

God will speak when you pray – 2 Kings 19:32-34

The verses leading up to verses 32-34 describe how Sennacherib had arrogantly mocked the Lord, the Holy One of Israel (19:22). He had boasted of his many accomplishments but did not realize God had made him who he was (19:23-26). God knew everything about Sennacherib, and He would lead him home in disgrace (19:27-28). The Lord of Armies, whom Sennacherib had mocked, would accomplish this (19:31).

Finally, Isaiah summarized for Hezekiah the brutal reality for Sennacherib—He will go back the way he came, and he will not enter this city. Sennacherib would return to his land without claiming Judah. The words "this is the Lord’s declaration," put a final exclamation point on God’s verdict against Sennacherib.

Notice that the Lord promised, "I will defend this city and rescue it." 2 Kings 19:35-37 records God’s victory over Sennacherib. God heard the faithful king’s prayer, brought dramatic deliverance, and still brings glory to Himself through this account as we study it today.

If you had been Hezekiah, how would you have felt when God responded in this manner? The prophet Isaiah is the one through whom God spoke to Hezekiah. What can you learn from this regarding how God might deliver answers to our prayers?

When YOUR back is against the wall

God will defend His name and rescue His people. Sometimes we wonder why we see so many people mocking God and His ways in today’s world. We may wonder why God hasn’t acted. We may be afraid for our own lives because of what we observe taking place in our world.

God’s Word assures us the day of judgment is coming for the wicked (Psalm 37:13). The Lord also will choose to defend His own honor in the manner He chooses, whether through life’s ordinary events or once and for all at Jesus’ second coming (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10). Either way, God will hear His people’s prayers and act on their behalf.

Do you really believe that God will defend and rescue you or His people when they are facing threats because of their faith? 

What might cause a believer to question if God will defend and rescue him/her?

What can you learn from Hezekiah and/or Isaiah that can help you when your back is against the wall?

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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