From Isaiah 36-41
Today’s chapter readings take us into Isaiah’s dealings with King Hezekiah. Hezekiah was generally a good king. In today’s passage Assyria has just taken all the smaller cities around Judah. Now they move to take Jerusalem. Has anyone ever ridiculed you for your trust in God?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
36.1 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. 2 And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field. 3 And there came out to him Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder. (Is 36.1-3)
At times Judah would have been tempted to rely on a foreign nation to protect them. But in this instance they are doing as they should. Hezekiah has set a strong example for the people and encouraged them to trust in the LORD. The Assyrian king Sennacherib has requested a meeting with a high ranking Assyrian military officer called a ‘Rabshakeh’ and some of Hezekiah’s men. Hezekiah sent two of officials and a recorder to discuss what will happen. The Rabshakeh threatens them.
4 And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? 5 Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? 6 Behold, you are trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. 7 But if you say to me, “We trust in the Lord our God,” is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, “You shall worship before this altar”? (Is 36.4-7)
The Rabshakeh lists a variety of options which he thinks the Judeans may have put their trust in. Words of strategy and power regarding war – various tactics for winning the battle. Egypt as a foreign power will protect them – Egypt will come in and save the day.
Finally, he refers to the LORD God. Hezekiah has turned the people back to the LORD and demolished the high places and altars of foreign worship around Judah. Instead they worship at the temple, where they should. They trust in the LORD now.
Are their issues in your life which are calling you to renew your trust in the LORD?
The Rabshakeh continues attempting to demoralise the small group.
8 Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. 9 How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master’s servants, when you trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 10 Moreover, is it without the Lord that I have come up against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, Go up against this land and destroy it.’ ” (Is 36.8-10)
The Rabshakeh boasts in the numbers of his army and the weakness of Judah’s. He believes they will lose quickly. They may rely on the Egyptians, but they aren’t there anyway. He believes his successes up to this point have been because of the LORD. He claims to be sent by the LORD. The strange fact is, this is probably true. The LORD has sent him to test his people and bring glory to himself.
The Rabshakeh will continue to boast in the power of his army and ridicule Judah and the LORD God. The small group meeting with the Rabshakeh eventually return to the protection of the city walls with their clothes torn. A sign of mourning and grief over what has been said to them (Is 36.11-22).
When Hezekiah hears he also tears his own clothing. I can’t imagine they had lots of clothes in those days. Doing this was a significant thing and would have put a dent in their wardrobe. Hezekiah goes into the house of the LORD and prays. Hezekiah’s servants go and tell Isaiah and he tells them the LORD will make the Assyrian king leave and in his home country he will be killed. That leaves the Rabshakeh and the army. He ridicules Judah and the LORD God again (Is 37.1-13).
Big mistake. Hezekiah prays to the LORD again for salvation and the LORD responds through Isaiah with a judgment on Assyria (Is 37.14-29).
30 “And this shall be the sign for you: this year you shall eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs from that. Then in the third year sow and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. 31 And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. 32 For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. 33 “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. 34 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. 35 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”
36 And 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. 37 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh. 38 And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword. And after they escaped into the land of Ararat, Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place. (Is 37.30-38)
In theological terms, the Assyrians get powned.
Story of Israel
The story of Hezekiah continues and he gets sick. Once again he prays to the LORD crying. He prays for healing and asks the LORD to remember his faithfulness. The LORD is gracious and says he will extend his life another 15 years giving him a sign to guarantee what he has promised. Hezekiah writes a public letter for all the people to see, thanking the LORD (Is 38.1-22).
Later on some envoys from Babylon visit Hezekiah and check on him since they heard he was sick. Hezekiah welcomes them in and shows him his treasure, armouries and warehouses. This was a mistake. They will return and tell their king who will later invade Judah. When Isaiah rebukes Hezekiah for his openness and gullibility, Hezekiah shows a pronounced lack of concern for his own people saying it will happen after he dies (Is 39.1-8).
The book of Isaiah now begins the next section returning to the theme of judgment and promises of restoration (Is 40-41).
Story of Jesus
Hezekiah and the small group who met with the Rabshakeh were called upon to remain strong in trusting the LORD. Sometimes we have to do the same as well. However I hope you won’t be surrounded like a hostile army like they were. Hezekiah was their main example of someone who put his trust in the LORD. Jesus is ours.
10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,
“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
13 And again,
“I will put my trust in him.”
“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Heb 2.10-15)
Jesus put his trust in the Father and through his death destroyed the devil and delivered us from slavery.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.