Isaiah 29:1-4

 The Rocks Cry Out!

Hezekiah, king of Judah, was in a difficult situation. Assyria had just conquered the nation of Israel and dispersed the people throughout their empire.  Now the Assyrian army had their sights set on Judah and Jerusalem.  The commander of the army sent Hezekiah a letter laying out the terms and conditions of surrender.  Hezekiah had secured Jerusalem but he knew that it would be just a matter of time before the surrounded city would run out of food.

Hezekiah started out well in his walk with the Lord but as Assyria became more powerful and threatening he tried to make a deal with Assyria.  The king of Assyria wanted 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold.  The silver Hezekiah found in the temple of the Lord, the gold he stripped from the doors and door posts of the temple, but the deal did him no good.  The Assyrian army remained at the wall shouting threats.

Hezekiah sent his servants to Isaiah the prophet in hopes that Isaiah would, “…offer a prayer for the remnant that is left.”  2 Kings 19:4b NASB

Isaiah tells the servants to tell Hezekiah to not be afraid and that God is going to deal with the Assyrian army, and indeed it seems He does. The Army has to leave and fight another battle but before they leave, the captain sends Hezekiah the letter.  This time Hezekiah takes the letter and goes through the doors of the temple he just stripped the gold from and laying the letter before God he prays.

In 1 Kings 19:20 we read, “Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, The God of Israel, Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard you.’” NASB Emphasis mine

Did you see that?  “Because you have prayed.”  Hezekiah tried to buy his way out by robbing the temple.  He sent messengers to the prophet. But it wasn’t until his back was against the wall that he became proactive in his relationship with the Lord and went to the temple and prayed.

God said I heard you. God acted and delivered the city from the Assyrian empire.  Jerusalem remained an Assyrian free zone in the middle of the Assyrian empire for about 130 years, which brings us to when Zedekiah was King of Judah.

Zedekiah also had his back to the wall.  Twice Nebuchadnezzar had already invaded Jerusalem, called Ariel in our verses in Isaiah. The people of Jerusalem were trusting in the words of the false prophets who were telling the people that Pharaoh Neco would march out against Babylon and rescue the nation.  After all, it was just a few years before that Pharaoh had defeated Judah in battle and set up Jehoiakim as king of Judah.  Judah had been paying tribute to Egypt. Three years into his reign Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and the tribute was paid to him. So really the choice was over the lesser of the two evils. So much for choice.

Zedekiah was afraid of what the people would think if he trusted in the word of God given through the Prophet Jeremiah.  He would allow Jeremiah to be imprisoned, thrown into a cistern, and then have him rescued so he could ask Jeremiah if there was any word from the Lord.  There was word, but Zedekiah and the people did not want to hear it.  Finally, Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem a third time and totally destroyed the city and the temple.  This is where verse 4 of Isaiah 29 comes in, “Then you (Jerusalem) shall be brought low: From the earth you shall speak, And from the dust where you are prostrate, Your words shall come.  Your voice shall also be like that of a spirit from the ground, And your speech shall whisper from the dust.”  NASB

So the question is, what do we hear from these rocks that are crying out?

Here are some things I heard.  Back in 1 Kings 19:20 we read that God says He is the God of Israel.  I like that!  Though the nation was divided by rebellion and became two nations, Israel and Judah, and even though the people of Israel were spread throughout the Assyrian empire, God was declaring that He was still their God. He saw them as He intended them to be, one nation united, with Him as their Lord and their God. 

Hebrews 12:1-13 tells us that God disciplines those He loves with the goal being, that we would grow stronger and more obedient.  He was willing to let the nations fall into captivity, and allow His city and His temple to be destroyed, regardless of how it may look to the unbelieving world, in order to save and love His children.

Second, Hezekiah did not have it all together at first but as the events unfolded he took steps that grew his faith in the Lord.  Faith is a verb, not a noun in God’s kingdom.  We all have faith and it is in someone, some ideal or idol like politics, the economy, unfounded hope, fear, and so on.  Whatever our faith is in, the more we use it the stronger our faith in these things becomes.   Hezekiah’s faith in the Lord grew stronger as he acted on the word of the Lord.  I need to do the same.  Proverbs 3:5-8, Mathew 6:31-34.

Third, it is clear that God will allow us to welcome trial and trouble into our lives if we choose not to listen to Him and choose to rebel, even if our actions discredit Him in the eyes of man or cost Him dearly. 

Luke 15:11-32, Romans 5:8, Colossians 2:20, 3:1&2, 15-17& 25.

Developing strength without obedience to the Lord is a disaster waiting to happen. Developing strength in the Lord through trust and obedience is disciplined power that can accomplish much. Matthew 7:24-27

As always, consider the verses mentioned in this study homework.

Be strong in the Lord!

Pastor Dave