2 Kings 18:1 In the third year of King Hoshea son of Elah of Israel, Hezekiah son of King Ahaz of Judah began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign; he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi daughter of Zechariah. 3 He did what was right in the sight of the Lord just as his ancestor David had done… 7 The Lord was with him; wherever he went, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him…13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, King Sennacherib of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 14 King Hezekiah of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong; withdraw from me; whatever you impose on me I will bear.” The king of Assyria demanded of King Hezekiah of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house…
The Assyrians took Samaria (the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel) – which was somewhat understandable. The people of the northern kingdom had done wicked things to anger the Lord for several generations. As such God withdrew protection from them and they were sent to Assyria as slaves after bring defeated in battle.
But Hezekiah is a different matter. We’re told he was a faithful king, seeking after the Lord as his ancestor David had done. And yet – the king of Assyria invaded anyway, forcing Hezekiah to give mountains of silver and gold. It wasn’t supposed to be that way. The first covenant of the law was simple. Follow the laws and commandments of God and you will be protected. Violate them and suffer.
But this morning I remember the promise is not that we will avoid suffering altogether, only that we will ultimately be saved from it.
God does eventually come to the aid of King Hezekiah, turning back the Assyrian invaders. In the book of Genesis, God raises up Joseph to be ruler in Egypt, but only after Joseph spends time in prison. God does make good on the Promised Land for the fleeing Hebrews, but only after they spend 40 years wandering in the desert wilderness. With God, salvation is generally preceded by suffering/struggle and lots of waiting.
So here we are in the season of Advent. Waiting. Waiting for the Lord to save us from… What are you waiting for? I’m waiting for the time when I can see my mother again without worry. When I can see my friends and colleagues across the country, most of whom I’ve not seen in-person for at least nine months. When businesses open and I can go to the movies again, or visit the grocery store without a mask. Mostly I’m waiting for the congregation I serve to be able to worship indoors in-person with no attendance limits or need for distance. When I can share an embrace of peace with my brothers and sisters in Christ. When we can come to the table of the Lord and receive Holy Communion as is our custom.
Lord give us peace. As we wait. Amen.