Then Hezekiah worked hard. – 2 Chronicles 32:5a
Then Hezekiah encouraged them by saying: “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” – 2 Chronicles 32:6b-8
And the LORD sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers. – 2 Chronicles 32:21
After Hezekiah turns the nation towards God and brings healing to their people, their peace is threatened by the Assyrian king Sennacherib. The Assyrians had dominated the people of Judah in the recent past and had forces that were far superior to them now. They didn’t really stand a chance in an invasion. King Hezekiah again leads with skill and wisdom.
First he makes preparations for the coming invasion. He stops the flow of the springs that the Assyrians will rely on, he repairs the broken sections of wall around the city and constructs a second wall outside the first. He reinforces the supporting terraces in the city, and manufactures large numbers of weapons and shields. He organizes the military and militia. In other words, Hezekiah did all he could do on the practical side to prepare for the coming invasion. But then he stops. He acknowledges that they are out manned and out gunned, but that their hope and victory is in God. “We have the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” In the end, the LORD sends an angel to destroy the Assyrian army, and the battle is won, not by Hezekiah, but by God.
Again Hezekiah displays his leadership acumen. He works like it all depends on him (the preparations and organization), and prays like it all depends on God. Ultimately, God wins this war and gives Hezekiah victory and prosperity under his reign. But Hezekiah did what he could do to prepare. This mix of initiative and God-dependance truly puts us in the center of God’s best for our lives. So often we go to one extreme or the other. Either we try to control the trials, threats, and problems in our lives, like control freaks, and forget that ultimately it is God who will help us and fight our battles for us. Or, we do the opposite and do nothing to prepare or navigate our battles, and just pray that God will win the battle for us.
Hezekiah’s preparations did two things. First, it kept Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from adopting the victim mentality. The situation was not going to simply happen to them. To the extent that they could, they were going to happen to the situation. Second, it helped them to see their need for God. For in the light of their work and preparations, they could see clearly that they needed God to come through.
I find such comfort in the statement, “We have the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” If there is one thing I have learned over the years, the battle is the Lord’s, and despite my best efforts, without his intervention I am in big trouble. But when I prepare like it all depends on me, and pray (and live in my heart) like it all depends on Him, I find myself in miracle territory. It really is where God does his best work. So in what areas of your life are you living passively and need to get intentional? Finances? Career? Relationships? Health? And in what areas are you fooling yourself into thinking you have control and don’t need God to “do battle for you”? We do have the tendency to run to one direction or the other… living in the tension between the two takes work and intentionality. But that’s where the real miracles happen.
Father, help me to shake off the malaise of passivity, and start happening to life instead of life happening to me. I acknowledge today that ultimately the battle is yours, and I seek to live in that dependency in prayer and in my heart, while engaging with purpose the preparations and disciplines that maximize what you’ve put in me. Help me to live in this tension and walk in your miracles and victory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.