Monday, September 23. 2 Chronicles 32 – 34

Chapter thirty-two opens with a noticeable contrast: “After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib, king of Assyria came and invaded Judah.”

How’s that reward for faithful service?

He might have legitimately cried to God: “I’ve done all you asked and tried to be faithful in every way and this is how you repay me?”

Sennacherib prismBut perhaps Hezekiah understood what we all understand: the only obligation God ever has to us is that of His own making. We cannot put Him in our debt.

Sennacherib left his own account of the siege of Jerusalem. It can be seen on the Sennacherib Prism in the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (the image is reproduced here). He claims to have captured 46 walled cities and deported 200,150 people and shut up Hezekiah “like a bird in a cage.” He does not mention defeating Hezekiah. Herodotus (Histories 2.141) also gives an account of Sennacherib’s defeat.

The Chronicler does not mention that Hezekiah tried to buy off Sennacherib with the temple’s gold, nor does it mention that Hezekiah appealed to Egypt for help (compare to 2 Kings 18), not because he sought to cover up those failures, but solely because he chose to emphasize Hezekiah’s faithfulness – such as it was – and God’s willingness to bless.

Likely, the first readers knew the whole story. But the idea for them, and us, is that God’s help does not depend on perfection, but on faithfulness, however hobbled it might appear.