STUDY | Spend the week studying 2 Chronicles 32. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Many questions have been included in this guide. Read through this lesson to determine which questions will work best to encourage, push, and grow your group.
PRAY | As you prepare, pray for the preaching of God’s Word this coming weekend. Pray also for your time in this week’s study and your group’s openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Prayer gives you real peace and security in hardship.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
Have you ever thought about how much you think about your future? We want life to be secure. We buy insurance policies and disability plans. We save a nest egg for unforeseen expenses. We have emergency plans in case the unthinkable happens.
But what happens when you encounter a situation you didn’t plan for or expect? This week your group will wrap up this series by looking at Hezekiah, who found himself in a situation beyond his ability to handle.
Q: Why do people value security? What do they think security will give them?
Q: In what ways do people seek security? In what ways do you seek security?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
AN ENEMY AT THE GATES
Sennacherib was king of Assyria, a superpower at the time. The northern kingdom of Israel had already fallen to Assyria in 722 B.C., and its people were led into exile. Sennacherib set his sights on Jerusalem, the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah. He sent word to Hezekiah and all Judah. Through his servants, Sennacherib told the people, “Your God and your king cannot save you. Surrender or be utterly destroyed.” The king openly mocked the God of Israel and spoke of Him as just another false god. Like the giant Goliath, Sennacherib spoke with great hubris. He was cocky and self-confident, defying Israel’s God. Nation after nation had fallen to Assyria, and Judah appeared to be little match for this giant empire.
READ: Read 2 Chronicles 32. Split the group into pairs and practice retelling the story to one another in your own words.
Q: Contrast Sennacherib and Hezekiah’s attitudes toward God.
This was Hezekiah’s crisis moment. Sennacherib and his army stood outside at the city gates, ready to invade. Hezekiah fortified the city in anticipation of Assyria’s attack. But inside anxiety hung like a fog over the people. Judah’s dark night was becoming darker with each passing hour. So Hezekiah prayed with the prophet Isaiah for God to intervene. Then God’s light broke into the darkness. God sent an angel to cut off Sennacherib and his men. God put this proud king in his place, and Sennacherib returned home defeated and ashamed.
Q: Recall a time when you had a crisis moment and prayed for God to inter- vene. What happened?
Q: What does it say about God’s character that He hears your prayers and responds to them?
Select 2-3 question from this section to answer.
SEEING HARDSHIP DIFFERENTLY
Faithfulness and obedience don’t exempt God’s people from hardship and the realities of living in a fallen world. We see this in Hezekiah. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. But God isn’t absent in the midst of hardship. He’s next to us when life takes an unexpected or difficult turn. What if you saw hardship differently? What if you saw it as an opportunity to strengthen your trust and deepen your love for God?
Q: How do hardships test our faith?
Q: Think of someone you know who has persevered through hardship. What allowed them to persevere?
PRAYING WITH POWER
Unlike other kings, who trusted in the size of their army or turned to other nations for help, Hezekiah turned to God in prayer. And God answered his prayer. So, what can we learn from this king, and what gave his prayer power?
First, Hezekiah lived righteously. Every decision Hezekiah made as king was influenced by his relationship with God through prayer. In the words of Corrie ten Boom, prayer was Hezekiah’s steering wheel, not his spare tire.
Second, Hezekiah had a prayer partner. He went to the Lord with Isaiah. Praying in community unites and encourages the community, especially in the midst of difficulty. This helps us see we’re not alone.
Third, Hezekiah prayed with praise. Hezekiah knew God was bigger than his enemy. He knew Sennacherib was nothing compared to the Creator and Ruler of heaven and earth. Praising God gives us perspective when we face hardship.
Fourth, Hezekiah prayed with patience. Hezekiah gave the situation to God and trusted Him to act. God wants our trust. Rather than take matters into your own hands, put them into the Father’s.
READ: Read Hezekiah’s Prayer in 2 Kings 19:14–19. What stands out to about the king’s prayer?
Q: How would you evaluate your prayer life currently? What would need to change for you to see more power in your prayers?
PEACE IN PRAYER
On the night of His arrest, Jesus comforted His disciples with these words, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The gospel reminds us that there is no situation in life God cannot overcome. Jesus understands the hardships of life, because He experienced them too, as a man. And He overcame our greatest enemies for us. He promised to give us peace and security when everything around us is anything but peaceful and secure.
Q: Where would you like to see more peace in your life?
Q: What are some ways to elevate the practice of prayer in your group?
Spend time praying in silence, reflecting on how Hezekiah’s prayer might apply to you. Where do you need deliverance? What are you asking God to do and be for you? Then pray your requests aloud as a group.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Read James 1:2–8 and reflect on how James teaches his readers to see hardships differently.
Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their life.
Catching Up with Hezekiah
2 Chronicles 29–31 sets the stage for Sennacherib’s failed invasion of Jerusalem. The first reform was to re-open the temple and cleanse it (ch.29). The king wanted to make a covenant with God. Temple worship was restored, and offerings and sacrifices were made to God once again. The king made a proclamation for all Israel to celebrate the Passover (ch.30). Next, Hezekiah reorganized the priesthood and restored temple services (ch.31). The temple was restored, and the project was paid for by the generous gifts from the king and the people. Because Hezekiah was obedient, God made him prosper as king. The mood in Judah was one of rejoicing; Judah was in the midst of a revival. However, the people’s mood quickly changed when Sennacherib arrived.
The Rest of the Story
God humbled the proud Sennacherib. But King Hezekiah couldn’t overcome his pride. The king became sick and near death and prayed for longer life. God answered the king’s prayer. But like many kings before him, Hezekiah became proud. When envoys from Babylon (another ancient superpower) visited the king, he flaunted his wealth before them. This angered God, and it motivated Babylon to start planning a later invasion. Hezekiah did repent, and God spared him from seeing Judah fall to Babylon.
Facing a Greater Enemy
“[Hezekiah and Isaiah’s] [t]rusting the Lord to fight prefigures trust in Christ as the victor against the kingdom of evil (Col. 1:13; 2:15; Heb. 2:14–15).” 1
Hezekiah According to 2 Kings
2 Kings 18:1–20:21 paints a more detailed picture of Hezekiah’s encounter with Sennacherib. We’re given Hezekiah’s prayer. Isaiah also plays a more prominent role as God’s messenger, who prophesies Sennacherib’s fall. We’re also told that the angel of the Lord sent into the Assyrian camp killed 185,000 in one night.
1. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 787.