Monday, May 22nd

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2 Kings 19

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Trust God, or not? In EVERY circumstance, or not? Even if it appears the situation is hopeless? Even when life becomes very, very hard? Even when the wolves are clawing at your door? Personal perception of life can be skewed by emotions and faulty thoughts. God is never moved by circumstances or anything else. For Him all things are possible and there is no such thing as something that is too hard. Do you believe it? Really?

Verses 1-4

  1. And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.

  2. And he sent Eliakim, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.

  3. And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.

  4. It may be the LORD thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left.

The three spokesmen for Hezekiah went back to his palace to report. When Hezekiah heard what the king of Assyria wanted, and his threats, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth as a sign of submission to God and a mixture of fear and hope. He entered the Temple to speak with His only protector – Jehovah.

Hezekiah sent his chief steward, Eliakim, his scribe, Shebna, and priest-elders to see the prophet, Isaiah (‘Jehovah has saved’). To show the seriousness of their visit, and their repentance, they, too, dressed in sackcloth and ashes. Though he was prophet to three previous kings, this is the first time he appears in 2 Kings.

The men gave Isaiah the king’s message: ‘Today is a day of trouble; we are being rebuked by God, and by our enemy, who blasphemes Jehovah. The baby is due, but we have no strength left to deliver it. We are sure God has heard the threats and blasphemy of our enemy, and will deal with him – so will you please pray for those of us who are left in this nation?’ So, Hezekiah, after all, still had faith in the Lord, and sought the right person for counsel and help.

Verses 5-7

  1. So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.

  2. And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.

  3. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.

Isaiah gave his response: ‘Go to the king and say that the Lord has heard his plea and says that he must not be afraid, nor heed the blasphemy of the king of Assyria’s envoys. Watch! For I will send news to his generals, with a strong wind, and he will go back to his own city. Once there, he will die by the sword.’

Today we have many blasphemous enemies. Do you think God will allow them to become strong and to finally win the day? No. God will ensure they will fall by their own follies. Pray for their downfall (imprecatory prayer is part of our armour. See relevant article) and look forward to God’s help in whatever form it takes.

Verses 8-13

  1. So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish.

  2. And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying,

  3. Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.

  4. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered?

  5. Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed; as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Thelasar?

  6. Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivah?

Rabshakeh went home with his army, only to find the king at war against Libnah (‘pavement’), a city in Judah. At the same time, Tirhakah the king of Ethiopia waged war against Assyria. (Tirhaka; ‘he searched out the pious’). This king also ruled over Egypt at the time.

Rabshakeh was determined to subjugate Hezekiah and sent him another message. ‘Don’t let your God deceive you and persuade you that He will save Jerusalem. Our kings have destroyed all their enemies – do you really think you will be delivered from their wrath? The gods of all the other defeated nations did not save them, and my kings have destroyed them all. Where are all those kings now? They are gone!’ Definitely, the war of words began proceedings, with intimidation.

Enemies try to strike fear into the hearts of their victims. We see this today in the wicked murderers of Islam. But, it is falling to the fear that brings defeat, not fighting them. It is better to die with a sword in hand than to lay our necks bare for the slaughter. Stand firm. Believe God. Run forward with holy sword in hand. Your righteousness and spiritual superiority will win the day.

Verses 14-19

  1. And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.

  2. And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.

  3. LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God.

  4. Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands,

  5. And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them.

  6. Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only.

Before, Hezekiah felt panic and tore at his clothes. Now, he quietly takes the letter from the Assyrian general and lays it out in the Tempe, before the Lord. Of course, God knew what the letter said, but this was an act of obedience and trust by Hezekiah. This should always be our own response to problems – take it to God and let Him take care of the answer.

Hezekiah prayed to God: ‘Lord, You are between the cherubims, You are the ONLY God, the sole Creator of everything… please listen to my plea, and see my situation. The king of Assyria has sent someone to blaspheme You. The Assyrians have destroyed so many lands, and burnt their gods (who were no gods anyway). So, please, Lord, save Judah from this man, so that all the world will know you are the one and only true God, Jehovah ‘Elohiym.’

When I was trapped and bound by my enemy employer in 2005, I called upon God to relieve me of my attacker. I asked that he would be made impotent, NOT so that I could feel easier, but that God’s Name would not be blasphemed – “Where is your God now?” – by mocking homosexuals. I did not want them to see me obliterated by their evil actions (which were many). Above all else they had to see God helping me. And this was my experience, spread over several years. Sometimes, God will act swiftly, and sometimes over time. Accept either, but above all, trust.

Verses 20-25

  1. Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard.

  2. This is the word that the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee.

  3. Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel.

  4. By thy messengers thou hast reproached the Lord, and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedar trees thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel.

  5. I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places.

  6. Hast thou not heard long ago how I have done it, and of ancient times that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps.

After his prayer, God immediately responded, through Isaiah. ‘I have heard your plea against Sennacherib. This is what will happen to the Assyrian ruler - Jerusalem laughs at you, great king! We despise and scorn you. You have dared to blaspheme the One and only God, the Holy One of Israel. Your envoys have brought reproach upon me. I will now make sure that the chariots of Judah reach deeply into your land, I will remove the strangers (enemy - here signified as ‘strange waters’), and dry up your rivers (specifically the Tigris, main river of Assyria). Have you not heard of these things I did a while ago? I have now begun your destruction, and will reduce your fortified cities to rubble.’

And so God turned the tables on Assyria. It was now He Who laughed in scorn at the enemy. It was He Who planned to destroy enemy cities. In our time, God will turn the tables on our enemies, whether homosexuals, Islamists, Greens, socialists or atheists. They will all suffer His hammer, possibly in spectacular fashion.

Verses 26-31

  1. Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up.

  2. But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me.

  3. Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest.

  4. And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such things as grow of themselves, and in the second year that which springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof.

  5. And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.

  6. For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this.

God continues His message to Hezekiah through Isaiah: ‘Because of my justice, your soldiers and people will be as nothing to me; they will be afraid and shamed, and they will be cut down as if they were just grass, or corn struck by a fierce storm. I know precisely what you have said against me and my people, and your rage against me. Because of these things, I will treat you like a bullock, putting a ring through your nose and leading you wherever I wish you to go… which is, back to your own land.

You will know Who it is that turned you away from Jerusalem, by this sign… This year your crops will be as usual; next year will be the same, and in the following year you will sow and grow as usual. This will be a symbol of how the few left of Judah will again grow in strength. They will ride out of Jerusalem against you. They will do it because I am their God.’

It is worth repeating – God sometimes acts over time, and not swiftly. It is a time when we must grow in spiritual strength, to oppose wickedness and become powerful in the Lord. In the intervening time God expects us to become as we should be, repenting of our waywardness.

Verses 32-37

  1. Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast a bank against it.

  2. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD.

  3. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.

  4. And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.

  5. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh.

  6. And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.

So, God gave His message of triumph to the king of Assyria. As with all such statements by God, it would not be stopped or rescinded. Just as God’s hammer dropped on Judah, so it would now drop on Assyria. For Judah it was a warning to change; for Assyria it was a just punishment for its blasphemy.

God said the Assyrians would not enter Jerusalem or use weapons against the city; its shields would not be seen going through the gates, nor will the enemy build ramparts to gain access. Rather, the army of Assyria will return to its own land. ‘I will defend this city’ God said, ‘to save it because I wish it to be saved, and because of my promises to David.’ Over two hundred years after David died, God still kept His promises to him. The same applies to us today, if we repent.

The message was delivered to the Assyrian generals, who, no doubt, laughed in scorn. But, that night, God acted against them. God sent an angel of death to the enemy camp, and he swiftly killed 185,000 soldiers in one moment. When the rest of the army awoke next day, they found the camp strewn with corpses that had no battle marks on their bodies. This was enough proof for the king, who took his army back home, and he resumed living in the capitol, Ninevah (‘abode of Ninus’), his home city on the east bank of the Tigris, where Mosul now stands.

God had not yet finished with the king, for a short while later he was assassinated by two of his sons, Adrammelech (‘honour of the king’) and Sharezer (‘prince of fire’). It is a matter of due justice that God brought this death by the sword while Sennacherib was in his pagan temple worshipping his false god, Nisroch (‘the great eagle’ – reminiscent of the eagle of Rome and of Nazi Germany. In this case the figure had the head of an eagle and the body of an human being). Though the official god of Ninevah, it originated in Babylon.

The two murderous sons then ran off to Armenia (which was once in modern day Turkey, until Turkey committed genocide against the Christian Armenians in the early part of the 20th century). Another son of Sennacherib then ruled in his stead, Esarhaddon (‘Ashur has given a brother’, who ruled in the seventh century BC). Even before this succession, his father made him royal ruler, the prefect, over Babelonia.

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Published on www.christiandoctrine.com

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