By Karla Hein
“The survivors that are left of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem will go a remnant, and survivors out of Mount Zion. The zeal of the Lord will perform this” (2 Kings 19:30–31 NASB).
COVID-19 has slapped humans in the face and left churches fragmented and stunned. One cannot simply blame the illness for our fatigue. The social climate has heated up with many cultural and doctrinal conversations—a deluge of words that can cause confusion and distort the truth. When social restrictions began to relax in my province, people emerged from their homes as if struggling free from a tight-fitting cocoon. Eyes blinking in the bright light and wings still fragile, they considered whom to trust.
During this turbulent time, I happened upon King Hezekiah. He appears shortly after God’s grim verdict against disobedient Israel “who did not trust in the Lord their God” and “rejected his decrees…and the statutes he had warned them to keep” (2 Kings 17:14–15). Sennacherib, the proud king of Assyria, expects to conquer Judah; he has already swept through a long list of other kingdoms. “Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?” (18:33). Hearing this threat, Hezekiah immediately implores God to declare his authority “that all kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God” (19:19).
Here we get an intriguing glimpse into the intercessory work of prayer, reminiscent of Moses’ plea for God’s mercy on the people many years before (Exodus 32:11–14). “Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you” (2 Kings 19:20 NASB). Then, the words that speak beautiful hope to hearts weary of fear, oppression, and judgment. “The survivors that are left of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward” (19:30 NASB). Who is this One promising preservation, even fruitfulness after the severe pruning of Israel? The same One who now speaks hope over the church: “to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27). I look at the motley assortment of characters who define themselves as Christians. I peer at my own frail life. I soak up these words, thirsty for hope in a hostile environment.
I recall Jehoshaphat, another king of Judah who also exemplified a confidence in God’s sovereignty during an urgent time of need. What is his response to God’s promise that “the battle is not yours, but God’s” (2 Chronicles 20:15)? A concert of praise, exalting God’s loving-kindness. A declaration of trust, triumphing over debilitating outward circumstances.
“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while [for what is a few, disconcerting years in the face of forever with him?] you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith…may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:6–7). “The zeal of the Lord will perform this” (2 Kings 19:31 NASB).