And he [King Hezekiah] set combat commanders over the people and gathered them together to him in the square at the gate of the city and spoke encouragingly to them, saying, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him, for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people took confidence from the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. – 2 Chronicles 32:6-8
King Hezekiah of Judah was a man of faith in God and faithful to the ways of God (2 Chronicles 31:20-21), and therefore he was able to lead others to trust in the Lord and see God’s mighty works.
Judging from a human perspective, Hezekiah and the Jews had every reason to fear defeat at the hands of the Assyrians. Just 20 years earlier in 722 BC, the king of Assyria attacked Israel (the northern kingdom of the twelve tribes of Israel) and was victorious. The southern kingdom of Judah was smaller than Israel and seemed an easy prey to the king of Assyria. However, Hezekiah knew that these battles were not won or lost due to military size or strategy.
Hezekiah knew Deuteronomy 28, including the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience. He knew that Israel perished because of their blatant sins, not because of Assyria’s battle strength. And Hezekiah knew how he had walked with God. He was a man who diligently sought the Lord and obeyed Him. He knew that God would be faithful to His promises; “The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you” (Deuteronomy 28:7).
In this confidence King Hezekiah not only took action to resist the enemy but he also stirred up the faith of his fellow Jews. He exhorted them to “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him…” If you have been a Christian for a while, you recognize these words that were also spoken to Joshua, who led the people of Israel into the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 31:6-7; Joshua 1:6-9). To do the work of God in any generation, especially when it’s difficult, requires strength and courage that does not come naturally.
Hezekiah’s encouragement to “be strong and courageous” was not merely a trite saying that came from a faint hope that they might pull out an unlikely victory over Assyria. Not at all. Hezekiah was deeply convinced that God was with them and that He would surely win the war, ”for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” There was no doubt in Hezekiah; he knew that God would not fail to keep His promises. In Paul’s words, Hezekiah walked “by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).
There are similarities and dissimilarities between Hezekiah’s story and ours, more than can be mentioned here. But what can be said is that through our own confidence in Christ, we too can strengthen others to trust in the Lord. The strength of our own walk with God not only benefits ourselves but will have profound impact on the lives of others and the purposes of God, especially as we encourage others to be strong and take courage in Christ to do hard things in His name. The more that we know God and walk faithfully with Him in our personal lives, the more that we can lead others out of fear, hopelessness, and inaction and into the Lord’s ways, experiencing the fulfillment of the amazing promises of God.
This year, be strong and courageous to seek God with all your heart. Take time to worship, pray, and read the Bible every morning and evening. Draw near to God through fasting and prayer on a regular basis and not just at the beginning of the year. Set aside whole days for worship and prayer. Be a bold witness for Christ. Give sacrificially. Spur on others to seek the Lord with you. Live courageously for the Lord Jesus, and God will be with you.
Father, make our individual walks with You so strong this year that we will see others strengthened as a result. Lord, keep us from sin and temptation. Give us a whole heart to obey You and draw near to You so that You will draw near to us and win many spiritual battles in our day and in our cities, in Jesus’ name.
Chuck Hetzler, Ph.D.
Vice President of Biblical Theology, Christian Union
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