Asking for a Miracle
In March of 2022, several pastors gathered together at the First Baptist Church and led a prayer vigil for Ukraine following the invasion from Russia.
The following is what I said on that evening:
In the book of 2 Chronicles, there is a story about a miracle that most Christians do not know.
The story goes like this.
In the early seventh century BCE, the massive military empire of Assyria marched toward Judah ready for war. The Assyrians surrounded the perimeter of Jerusalem, and placed the city under siege. The people of Jerusalem did not stand a chance. Their military was smaller, their weapons were inferior, and none of their allies were coming to their rescue. Nearly all hope was lost.
However, the king of Jerusalem, Hezekiah, gathered his weary people around him, and he encouraged them. He told his people, “Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid or dismayed before the king of Assyria and all the horde that is with him; for there is One greater with us than with him. With the Assyrians is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles.”
A few verses later, Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah prayed. They prayed a prayer of desperation and cried to heaven asking for God to intervene.
According to the words written by the people of Jerusalem, God heard their prayer and sent an angel to confuse, disrupt, and discourage the Assyrian army. This confusion led the massive Assyrian army to relinquish the siege on Jerusalem, quickly pack up, and return to Assyria.
The text says, “The Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of the (Assyrian army); (God) gave (the people of Jerusalem) rest on every side.”
While this story in 2 Chronicles is fascinating, modern archaeology has made this story downright remarkable. The reason for this is because archaeologists discovered the Assyrian empire’s record of this attack on Jerusalem.
In that record, the Assyrians brag about all the cities they conquered and how they leveled anyone who stood in their path. There is a rhythm and cadence to how the record remembers the devastation they inflicted as they list city after city that they destroyed. However, the language significantly changes when the Assyrians remember Jerusalem. The Assyrian record reads, “Like a caged bird I shut (Hezekiah) up in Jerusalem, his royal city.”
And then the record moves on to the next city the Assyrians conquered.
There is no mention of destruction.
There is no words describing a victory.
There is no record of conquering Jerusalem.
And while we don’t know for sure what happened around the city of Jerusalem 2700 years ago,
we do know for sure that something happened.
And when destruction and death and war seemed imminent,
the people prayed,
and somehow, that threat of imminent war dissipated.
The reason this story is so remarkable is because it is about the closest we get to having a miracle in the Bible confirmed by modern archaeology.
And this miracle is exactly what we need from God in the world right now.