The God who answers – Part 3
“Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called upon His name; They called upon the Lord, and He answered them. You answered them, O Lord our God; You were to them God-Who-Forgives, Though You took vengeance on their deeds” (Psalms 99:6,8 (NKJV).
Jonah had a change of heart after his initial disobedience to God’s call to go to Nineveh. But this would not be until after an encounter with God in the belly of a whale. After experiencing God’s mercy, he then spoke these words about God’s character. “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore, I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness, One who relents from doing harm” (Jonah4:2 NKJV). Jonah acknowledged that God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness. He showed mercy to Nineveh and Jonah and continues to do the same even now.
God readily answered the petitions of Israel in the wilderness despite their sins and provocations. Of Israel, the Psalmist wrote, “I removed his shoulder from the burden; His hands were freed from the baskets. You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah” (Psalms 81:6-7 NKJV).
God is more eager to answer us than we are prepared to pray. An eager God comes face-to-face with a reluctant people. Most times, we give all kinds of excuses why we cannot pray. The sad thing is that while we relish in our excuses, Satan is happy and capitalises on our reluctance and excuses. This is the sad picture God faces.
King Hezekiah’s experience with God shows how eager God is to answer prayers. The account of Hezekiah’s prayer and God’s deliverance is recorded three times in the Old Testament (Isaiah 36–39; 2 Chronicles 32; 2 Kings 19). When Hezekiah received a threatening letter from Sennacherib the king of Assyria and was faced with the danger of extinction, ‘He went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord’ (2 Kings 19:14). He prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord… you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see… Now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God’ (vv.15–19). Hezekiah’s prayer was for God’s honour and glory, ‘so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God’ (v.19).
The prophet Isaiah then sent a message to Hezekiah, saying that God has heard his prayer. He delivered the people from the threat of the Assyrians in answer to Hezekiah’s intercession. Hezekiah further prayed for his healing. He was ill, at the point of death (20:1), and he interceded, ‘Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord’ (v.2). Again, God answered his intercession: ‘I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will heal you… I will add fifteen years to your life’ (vv.5–6).
Child of God, if only you will call upon God now, He will answer you speedily. He is the God who answers.