From 2 Kings 18-19
Have you ever been in a situation where it seems all the world is against you and the LORD? In today’s passage Jerusalem is surrounded by the armies of the King of Assyria. They have ridiculed the LORD and Hezekiah, calling them to stop trusting in the LORD. When the chips are down will you stand up for the LORD and put your trust in Him?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Sennacherib king of Assyria has invaded the lands of Judah and has made his way to Jerusalem. There Hezekiah and the people are holed up for protection. Sennacherib’s high official (the Rabshakeh) has called upon the people not to put their trust in the LORD or in Hezekiah.
Hezekiah has gone in to pray about the matter, leaving it in the LORD’s hands. The LORD responds through his prophet Isaiah.
20 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying,
“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Your prayer to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard. 21 This is the word that the LORD has spoken concerning him:
“She despises you, she scorns you the virgin daughter of Zion; she wags her head behind you
the daughter of Jerusalem.
22 “Whom have you mocked and reviled? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes to the heights? Against the Holy One of Israel!
23 By your messengers you have mocked the Lord, and you have said,
‘With my many chariots I have gone up the heights of the mountains, to the far recesses of Lebanon; I felled its tallest cedars, its choicest cypresses; I entered its farthest lodging place, its most fruitful forest. 24 I dug wells and drank foreign waters, and I dried up with the sole of my foot all the streams of Egypt.’ (2 Ki 19.20-24)
Isaiah announces the LORD’s response to Sennacherib. Sennacherib has mocked Israel, exalted himself and in doing so he has offended the LORD as well.
When the world mocks God’s people, the LORD is insulted as well.
Isaiah takes note of their boasting. The Assyrians have claimed to do many great things.
25 “Have you not heard that I determined it long ago? I planned from days of old what now I bring to pass, that you should turn fortified cities into heaps of ruins,
26 while their inhabitants, shorn of strength, are dismayed and confounded, and have become like plants of the field and like tender grass, like grass on the housetops, blighted before it is grown. (2 Ki 19.25-24)
Sennacherib’s military victories so far have been at the LORD’s plan and command.
27 “But I know your sitting down and your going out and coming in, and your raging against me. 28 Because you have raged against me and your complacency has come into my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will turn you back on the way by which you came. (2 Ki 19.27-28)
Controlled like a beast of burden. Hooked by the nose and bit in the mouth to do the LORD’s bidding.
The LORD gives a sign to give advanced notice his judgment will happen.
29 “And this shall be the sign for you: this year eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs of the same. Then in the third year sow and reap and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit.
30 And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 31 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. (2 Ki 19.29-32)
The sign is not for Sennacherib. Its for the people of God.
“The promise here is that over the next three years those who have survived the invasion will be able to restore normal life. (References to a “remnant” are sometimes merely to the survivors of a disaster, without any implication that they were more faithful than those who perished.” (Tomes, R., 2003. 1 and 2 Kings. In J. D. G. Dunn & J. W. Rogerson, eds. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 276.)
32 “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it.
33 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD. 34 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
35 And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.
36 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. 37 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place. (2 Ki 19.32-37)
Hezekiah and the people are assured the LORD will protect them. That night in probably the biggest mass killing in biblical history, 185000 people are struck down. Soon afterward Sennacherib himself is cut down. How very quickly events can turn around.
It’s not safe to ridicule the LORD or try and get his people to give up their trust in him.
In his moment of distress Hezekiah went to the man of God, Isaiah and poured out his heart. The LORD heard his prayer and answered. In Israel’s history not many of the kings had the maturity to reach out to others for help.
Sennacherib thought he could win over Jerusalem by his power and might. Little did he know he was only doing the LORD’s bidding. He will not be the only one. Not to much later another army of Assyria and Babylon will execute the LORD’s justice on Israel and Judah.
The story also reminds us the world hates the LORD and his rule.
In the gospel, Jesus warns his disciples they will face persecution and tribulation.
29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16.29-33)
Jesus tells us the opposition of the world is not the last word. They may win small battles, but the war has already been won. When Jerusalem was opposed by Sennacherib the LORD showed he is in control. The LORD will win over the powers of this world.
Jesus assures us he has overcome the world.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.