The God Who Limits Evil
Ahaz’s son Hezekiah becomes king of Judah, and he yearns to know God’s heart. He purges every bit of idol worship and high-place worship from Judah.
In the sixth year of Hezekiah’s reign, the mighty Assyrians overpower and absorb Israel. Eight years later, the brutal empire turns its army against the southern kingdom of Judah, demanding the tribute that Hezekiah has ceased paying. Even though Hezekiah pays the tribute—and more—King Sennacherib sends his top brass to Jerusalem to confront Hezekiah. They brag about their military power, threaten to destroy Judah, and publicly mock Hezekiah’s trust in God. Hezekiah beseeches God for help. God speaks through Isaiah, telling Hezekiah that he will make the Assyrians retreat to fight another opponent.
But Sennacherib isn’t done threatening. He sends a message to Hezekiah: No god of any foreign country has been able to save its nation from Assyria. Hezekiah takes the message to God’s temple and spreads it before him, begging God to help. Through Isaiah, God rebukes Sennacherib—God is going to send him back to where he came from. That very night the angel of the Lord kills 185,000 Assyrians. Sennacherib and his surviving soldiers limp back to Assyria. Judah is safe.
Later, when Babylonian visitors come to Jerusalem, Hezekiah proudly shows them every treasure in the palace and temple. It’s a foolish move. Isaiah warns him: Someday every last treasure will be taken to Babylon.
During the rule of Hezekiah’s unfaithful son and his grandson—Manasseh and Amon—Judah reverts to its evil, idolatrous ways.
The King’s Heart
The bully Assyria was breathing down Hezekiah’s neck. He was terrified, but trusting. God stood up for his threatened king. To arrogant King Sennacherib, he said, “Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone” (2 Kings 19:25).
“Sennacherib, any power you have is by my permission. I am in charge here.”
Evil has power, yes. But it is on a leash—a leash controlled by the good, strong arm of God. God is not evil, but the evil that trespasses in this world answers to him. Over and above all evil, the good and all-powerful Creator God reigns.
People may scheme, insult and injure. Darkness may attack and accuse. But evil is restrained by God. And one day it will be ended by him. Forever.
God is in charge here.
Hezekiah’s son Manasseh was one of the most sinful kings to reign in Judah, even stooping to the abominable practice of sacrificing children. According to Jewish tradition, one of Manasseh’s evil atrocities was the murder of the prophet Isaiah.