This study of Second Chronicles 32 is designed to help people who want to help people in times of a crisis. You are free to copy this. Perhaps you can insert relevant questions or discussion points throughout this study. I trust that this is of benefit to you.
written by Andrew Corbett
The definition of a crisis is a calamity or event which disrupts a person’s sense of well-being and lifestyle. It is generally short term and requires immediate action in order to restore balance and control in the person’s life. The results of crisis are: anxiety, bewilderment, confusion, desperation, anger, helplessness and even apathy. There is an increased sense of dependency upon others, a sense of urgency, and decreased efficiency in decision making and performance. The account of Judah being sieged by the Assyrians in Second Chronicles 32, involves all the aspects of a crisis. The major distinctive is that it involves a nation of people rather than just one person. The “helper” in this instance was their leader – King Hezekiah.
¶ After these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself. And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and intended to fight against Jerusalem, he planned with his officers and his mighty men to stop the water of the springs that were outside the city; and they helped him.
Second Chronicles 32:1-3
A few decades earlier, the northern kingdom (Israel/Ephraim) had been taken away captive by the Assyrians. Now the southern kingdom of Judah faced a very real possibility of also being exiled by the Assyrians. Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, was under siege from the Assyrians leaving the people of Judah no way of escape. The Assyrians by this stage had already established a reputation of ruthlessness and incredible violence (as later detailed by Nahum). The people of Judah had every reason to fear for their nation and individual lives. The impending overthrow of Jerusalem looked imminent.
A great many people were gathered, and they stopped all the springs and the brook that flowed through the land, saying, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?” He set to work resolutely and built up all the wall that was broken down and raised towers upon it, and outside it he built another wall, and he strengthened the Millo in the city of David. He also made weapons and shields in abundance. And he 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,
Second Chronicles 32:4-6
Just when the people were about to lose all hope, their leader, King Hezekiah, arose to counsel and lead them out of despair and then eventually into victory. Fulfilling all the requirements of a crisis helper, Hezekiah’s actions and methods serve as a Biblical model for all crisis helpers.
“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.
Second Chronicles 32:7-8
THE BEHAVIOUR OF THE PEOPLE IN CRISIS
With the threat of invasion and overthrow from the Assyrians, the people of Judah were experiencing anxiety, bewilderment, confusion, desperation, helplessness, and even apathy.
They felt their situation was hopeless. They were no match for the might of Assyria.
This situation might have ordinarily led them to call on another nation for assistance (for example, later they were to call on Egypt for help, which angered the LORD greatly [Jer. 37:7] ). Thus there may have been a heightened sense of dependency on others as a result of their crisis.
They were under tremendous tension and pressure. Never before had a foreign nation threatened to violently exile them from their own country. They had no past experience upon they draw adequate comfort or coping mechanisms.
The people experimented with a trial and error deterrent, thinking that if they cut off their water supply, the King of Assyria would be discouraged from conquering them (2Chron. 32:3-4). This crisis situation drove them to such extreme measures.
Even though they vainly made shields and weapons as an appearance of defence capabilities, they recognised that they had no real resources to solve their crisis.
¶ After this, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, who was besieging Lachish with all his forces, sent his servants to Jerusalem to Hezekiah king of Judah and to all the people of Judah who were in Jerusalem, saying, “Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria, ‘On what are you trusting, that you endure the siege in Jerusalem? Is not Hezekiah misleading you, that he may give you over to die by famine and by thirst, when he tells you, “The LORD our God will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria”? Has not this same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, “Before one altar you shall worship, and on it you shall burn your sacrifices”? Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands at all able to deliver their lands out of my hand? Who among all the gods of those nations that my fathers devoted to destruction was able to deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand? Now, therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!’”
Second Chronicles 32:9-15
THE STEPS TAKEN BY THE HELPER
This account of Hezekiah counselling his people and eventually leading them into victory is one of the most inspiring examples of leadership and shepherding (helping) in the Scriptures. His actions and behaviour through Judah’s crisis form a valuable model for Biblical crisis counselling (helping).
Hezekiah’s response to this emergency situation was spontaneous. He became the calm helper in the midst of turmoil and desperate hopelessness. Through his closeness to the people, prayer and faith in God, he helped the people through this crisis. He didn’t wait for their cries of help, he showed initiative by stepping to the forefront and taking control. He delivered what the people needed (faith in God) rather than what they think they needed (more powerful weapons and a stronger army).
¶ And his servants said still more against the Lord GOD and against his servant Hezekiah. And he wrote letters to cast contempt on the LORD, the God of Israel and to speak against him, saying, “Like the gods of the nations of the lands who have not delivered their people from my hands, so the God of Hezekiah will not deliver his people from my hand.” And they shouted it with a loud voice in the language of Judah to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten and terrify them, in order that they might take the city. And they spoke of the God of Jerusalem as they spoke of the gods of the peoples of the earth, which are the work of men’s hands.
Second Chronicles 32:16-19
He made instant contact with the leaders of the city immediately he knew of the crisis (vs. 3).
“Then he set military captains over the people, gathered them together to him in the open square of the city gate, and gave them encouragement,” (vs. 6). He then made contact with the people by gathering them to himself.
¶ Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven. And the LORD sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword. So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side. And many brought gifts to the LORD to Jerusalem and precious things to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the sight of all nations from that time onward.
Second Chronicles 32:20-23
“Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him.” (vs. 7). Hezekiah spoke words of encouragement that reminded the people of what they already knew- that the LORD of Hosts was on their side, and that He was their warrior (Exodus 15:3).
He focussed their attention on God, not their problem.
He reminded them of God’s faithfulness in times past.
He presented the facts to the people about the impending invasion rather than trying to down-play it or deny it.
SUCCESSFUL HELPING STRATEGIES
He set about to implement a plan of practical action. He organised the people into productive activities, such as the manufacture of weapons and shields, and the repairs to the city walls (vs. 5). Thus he explored a practical course of action to resolve the crisis.
Most importantly, he prayed and sought the LORD (vs. 20). He did this with Isaiah the prophet in the temple.
As a result of this seeking and praying, the LORD intervened by striking down the military leaders of the Assyrian army (vs. 21). This resulted in Assyria’s withdrawal. The people were saved. They responded by acknowledging Hezekiah’s help and showering him and the LORD with gifts (vs. 23).
© 1997 Andrew N. Corbett, Legana, Tasmania