In 2 Kings 19 we meet Isaiah. In his great distress at the conquests of the Assyrians and their presence outside the walls of Jerusalem, King Hezekiah sends his secretary and senior priests to the prophet, with a message; “It may be that the LORD your God heard all the words of the Rabshakeh”, adding, “therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left” (verse 4).

Isaiah’s response is very positive; “Say to your Master, ‘Thus says the LORD: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumour and return to his own land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land’” (verses 6,7). This happened, but as the Assyrians departed they said, “Thus shall you speak to Hezekiah king of Judah: ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you by promising that Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, devoting them to destruction. And shall you be delivered?’” (verses 10,11). History is full of human boasts like this, but God is “aware of their raging against me” (verses 21-28). Within a generation or two the Assyrians fade into history and Nineveh is a heap of ruins, as it is today. The Babylonians then become the main enemy, but in time Babylon too becomes a heap of ruins, as it is today.

Then Isaiah conveys a remarkable long-term prophecy. “… the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD will do this” (verses 30,31). We witness the resilience of the “surviving remnant” today. We can read in Isaiah’s prophecy, how “in that day the Lord will extent his hand a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people … and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (11:11,12). We are witnessing that event and are in awe of the climax when God “shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked” (verse 4). How awesome was the fate of the great Assyrian army, because they reviled God (185,000 died – verse 35)! Let us make sure we are lovers of God as we await that day.