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2 Kings 18:2832; 19:57, 1519comment (0)

February 17, 2011

By Jay T. Robertson

Related Scripture: 2 Kings 18:2832; 19:57, 1519

Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

2 Kings 18:28–32; 19:5–7, 15–19

Resist Temptations to Distrust (18:28–32)

In 701 B.C., Sennacherib, Assyria’s king, sent his army against Jerusalem, demanding total surrender. The Rabshakeh was the messenger for the Assyrian king who delivered the ultimatum to the people of Jerusalem in their language Hebrew. He took his propaganda directly to the people: Surrender or be destroyed. This was a common Assyrian invasion strategy. They pretended to have the “working class” warrior’s interests in their minds, but history has left no trace of concrete evidence of any such benevolence. Four times, he denounced Hezekiah, Judah’s king, belittling his military capabilities or theological common sense. He warned the people not to let their king deceive them. Hezekiah had no army to fight Assyria, and God would not deliver them either. The Rabshakeh promised a better life in a new land for those who surrendered. Their days of hardship and fear would be over. He compared the Lord unfavorably not only to Assyria’s gods but also to the gods of nations already conquered. His argument fit polytheistic theology, for it measures the worth and power of individual gods by the success and grandeur of those who worship them. By his standards, Israel’s “god” must have been weaker than the gods of the countries formerly more successful than Judah, so it was ludicrous to believe such a god could save the people of Jerusalem. Christ followers today are tempted to place their trust in human ability rather than God’s steadfast promises. They often encounter tempting promises that Satan dangles before them, but they are deceptive and destructive.

Gain Strength From Other Believers (19:5–7)
Hezekiah was greatly alarmed by the Rabshakeh’s speech. He desperately needed encouragement so he sent messengers to God’s prophet Isaiah. The prophet’s response to the king’s messengers was clear, concise, confident and encouraging. Isaiah replied that Hezekiah need not fear, for the Lord would make Himself known to Sennacherib, who had blasphemed Him. God would put a spirit of fear in his heart, and he would hear a rumor of trouble back home and hastily retreat. God also would cause him to be killed by the sword in his own country. The fulfillment of these prophecies would show not only that Isaiah was a true prophet but also that God’s people are right to place their trust in Him. Do you seek encouragement from other Christ followers when you are afraid? God has united us together in the body of Christ so we can be strengthened by our brothers and sisters as they speak words of grace to us.

Boldly Request God’s Help (19:15­–19)
As Isaiah’s encouraging words reached Hezekiah, he received a threatening message from Sennacherib assuring him that he would be destroyed if he did not surrender. Hezekiah, encouraged by Isaiah’s message, took the threatening letter to the temple, laid it out before the Lord and prayed for His help. Hezekiah’s prayer consisted of three parts. First he recognized the Lord’s greatness. He noted that the Lord was “enthroned above the cherubim,” a reference to the Ark of the Covenant, the ancient symbol of the covenant between Israel and God. He also acknowledged that the Lord was the sovereign Creator of heaven, earth and all nations on the earth. Since God was the Creator and Ruler of all nations, then Hezekiah could hope for deliverance in this seemingly impossible situation. Second Hezekiah explained his problem to God. He spoke about Assyria’s insults against the Lord, and only then did he address his military dilemma. He admitted that Assyria had conquered the nations already mentioned, but he separated his God from those nations’ gods on the grounds that they were not real. The Lord, on the other hand, was not “the work of men’s hands” and could help those who pray to Him. Third Hezekiah asked for God to show up and do what only He could do. He prayed for God to save His people and demonstrate His sovereign power so that all the kingdoms of the earth would know that He is God.       

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