Sermon: Surrounded!

2 Kings 18:1-7/Isaiah 36-37:7

The two books of Kings give long accounts of all the kings of Israel and Judah, putting them either into the good king or bad king category.  The good kings walked with God and followed God’s commands.  The bad kings did not.  Hezekiah was a good king.  I am going to tell you the story of stand off between the king of little Judah, Hezekiah, and the king of mighty Assyria, Sennacharib, using the words of a famous Presbyterian pastor, Rev. Eugene Peterson.   In The Message paraphrase, you will hear several unfamiliar names or titles that you will want to keep track of.  The main characters are King Sennacharib’s representative, who has a Hebrew title:  the Rabshekah.  No one is exactly sure what the title means, but it is often translated “field commander”, and sometimes, chief advisor.  The Rabshekah was clearly a representative who had the authority to speak for the king.  Then you have King Hezekiah and his three representatives, his palace steward (he was in charge of what went on in the king’s palace), his secretary and his official historian.  And finally you have the prophet Isaiah.   Continue reading

Sermon: Same Direction, Same Speed, Same Destination

Micah 6:1-8

When our children were little, we loved reading Dr. Suess books.  One I remember so clearly was the Zax.  It was a short parable about a north going Zax and a south going Zax who met on the road and refused to budge to either side to change their direction.  They stood, facing one another, unable to move forward, while the rest of the world built up around them.  Even children could figure out that this was a silly way to operate!

Isn’t that the prophet’s basic question to the people of Israel and to us today?  Continue reading