Isaiah 37:1–38comment (0)
April 6, 2006
By Cecil Taylor
Related Scripture: Isaiah 37:1–38
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Dean, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
DO YOU TAKE YOUR BURDENS TO THE LORD?
In “the fourteenth year of Hezekiah,” (701 b.c.) Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, invaded Judah as part of his effort to reassert control over certain rebellious areas. He defeated an Egyptian force sent to help, then laid siege to 46 walled Judean cities and forts — not counting small villages — and made Hezekiah “a prisoner in Jerusalem, his royal residence, like a bird in a cage.” From his camp at Lachish, Sennacherib sent his Rabshakah (a high Assyrian civil official) to meet with Hezekiah and his officials (36:3). The Rabshakah delivered his message that Judah was too weak to resist the Assyrian war machine, that Egypt would be no help and that their own God had sent the Assyrians as His agent to punish them. Indeed no god of any nation had saved any land from the might of the Assyrian army (36:18–20).
Facing Bleak Circumstances (1–13)
Hezekiah knew he and his people did not have the strength to face the danger. Dressed in mourning clothes, Hezekiah went to the temple to pray and sent a delegation to Isaiah to inform him of what had happened and to ask for his prayers. The prophet’s reply to the king was that God would deal with Sennacherib: “He will hear a rumor and return to his own land. I will cut him down with a sword in his own land.”
The account gives no further information about the rumor, but verse 38 indicates Sennacherib’s own sons murdered him in a temple of his god Nisroch in 682 b.c. — five years after Hezekiah died.
At the moment, however, Hezekiah faced a crisis. The Ethiopian king of Egypt, Tirhakah, sent an army into Palestine to oppose the Assyrians. To meet this threat, Sennacherib had to break off his siege of the Judean frontier fortresses. He sent an ominous new message to Hezekiah not to get his hopes up, for no one yet had escaped Assyrian power.
Praying to Almighty God (14–20)
The warning from Sennacherib was contained in a letter that Hezekiah took into the temple and spread before the Lord in prayer.
In prayer, he confessed that though it was true that the Assyrians had wasted nation after nation and cast the gods of those nations into the fire, it was only because those gods were simply idols that could be destroyed. The king prayed that the Lord God of Israel would save Judah so the world would know He alone is God.
Some see prayer as a crutch for the weak. They prefer to rely on their own resources instead of admitting their need for help in hard times. People, however, demonstrate their trust in God by taking their burdens to Him in prayer.
Experiencing Divine Deliverance (21–38)
Through the prophet, the Lord sent a message to the king denouncing Assyria. Jerusalem is pictured as a young girl making fun of a great conqueror.
Then the Lord directly addressed the Assyrian king and his nation. The arrogant Assyrian thought himself a god but was nothing more than the tool of the true God, carrying out what God planned for him to do. Because he raged against God, the king would be defeated and sent back to his own country. God portrayed the Assyrian as an animal mastered and controlled.
Isaiah 37:30–35 contains both God’s promise to preserve a remnant of the people through the disasters so that by the third year, Judahites will be farming as if nothing happened and God’s determination to save and protect Jerusalem against the Assyrian king.
Isaiah 37:36–38 recounts the deliverance of Jerusalem.
The Lord’s angel killed 185,000 men in the Assyrian camp. Decimated by the loss, Sennacherib withdrew to his Assyria, where he was slain by his own sons as Isaiah prophesied.