2 Kings 18:13-19:7 Sennacherib Boasts
Assyria is attacking Judah. Hezekiah tries to appease them but they are itching for conquest. Sennacherib boasts of his prowess in battle.
When I was finishing up on the last blog post I felt I should have told the story in ‘first person’. I’m backing up today and including yesterday’s reading with today’s to tell the story with us looking in on it. This is my favorite style of writing because I like feeling like I’m in the middle of it.
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King Hezekiah is in his throne room hearing concerns of the day brought by the people. The one he is currently dealing with is regarding ancient boundary lines. One man claims the other has moved them. Just as he is about to render his ruling the doors burst open and in rushes one of his trusted guards.
Hezekiah could read the distress in his face the moment it cleared the doorframe. He holds a quieting hand out to the two men he had been just dealing with and motions with the other for his guard to approach.
“What is it?”
“My lord, forgive the intrusion but I have just received word that Assyria is on the march again. They took Hebron two days ago and are now headed towards Lachish. At this rate they will be at the city wall of Jerusalem in less than a week.”
“Clear the room” calls out Hezekiah.
The men who were just arguing before him have lost all bluster. There are MUCH more important concerns now than the corner of a piece of property. They realize they may lose it all if Assyria continues its current conquest. They make their way out of the king’s throne room without another word.
Hezekiah stayed his guard from leaving as the room was being emptied. He needed answers that the guard would most likely be able to provide.
“Does Sennacherib march with them” he asks as soon as the doors close.
“It is not clear my king but there does appear to be an upper guard as shown in the colors they are flying.”
“Good. Perhaps it is not too late. Fetch a messenger immediately.”
The guard rushes off to find a messenger for the king. He returns in short order with the best man he knows for the job. Both stand before the king and await his command.
“Take this down; ‘I have done wrong; withdraw from me. Whatever you impose on me I will bear’ (verse 14b).”
The messenger quickly pens the king’s message and then presents it to him to look over. Hezekiah carefully reads it and blows on it to help the ink dry. This needs to go out immediately but he has to wait for the ink to dry so his message won’t be smudged. As soon as it is dry enough to roll Hezekiah seals it with his signet ring and passes it back to the messenger.
“Get this as close to Sennacherib as possible. Work your way through the ranks if necessary.” Hezekiah then addresses his guard. “You go with him and ensure his safety. This message MUST reach Sennacherib if the people are to have a chance.”
The two men turn on their heels and set off at a running pace. They clear the doors of the throne room in three strides. They should reach Lachish about the same time the Assyrian forces do. They will be carrying the king’s banner with them to ensure they are not thought to be attacking troops.
Hezekiah, loath to sit and wait, begins an inventory of what he has on hand to appease the king of Assyria. He expects the price to be high and demanded in gold and silver. His latest repair of the Temple has cut down the surplus significantly. The doors and doorposts had been recently recovered in gold. The inventory is completed before nightfall. All that remains is to wait.
The messengers reach the forward ranks of the advancing army about the same time the inventory is completed. The king’s colors grant them safety as they are passed through the ranks of the camp to its very center. Here they come face to face with Sennacherib’s highest officials. The king did accompany his forces but they have to pass before his officers first to ensure the king’s safety.
“Speak dog” barks the Rabshakeh.
Hezekiah’s guard is not used to being addressed in this manner but the importance of his mission trumps his pride. He inclines his head, takes the message from the hands of the messenger and steps toward the Rabshakeh.
“My king, Hezekiah, has sent an urgent message for your great king, Sennacherib.”
The guard looks at the scroll being held out towards him. The wax seal of the king is facing him. It appears unbroken and genuine.
“I will take it to Sennacherib myself” growls the Rabshakeh and snatches the scroll from the guard’s hand.
Moments later Sennacherib is breaking the seal on the scroll and reading it. He begins to laugh as he reads Hezekiah’s words.
“So the great king of Judah finally decides to humble himself. He has been too proud to pay homage until we are at his doorstep. Let’s see how much lower he will go. Send him this reply; ‘The great king of Assyria demands no less than three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold be delivered to him within three days’ time.’”
The Rabshakeh grinned at the demand of the king. This was an exorbitant amount to require in one payment. Surely the king of Judah would fail to meet the demand and doom himself and his people to destruction. He is looking forward to seeing the impotent king’s face as he is given the cost of his life.
Sennacherib easily reads the Rabshakeh’s glee and desire behind it.
“You will not be the one delivering this message my faithful servant.”
The Rabshakeh’s face falls at these words but he recovers quickly and schools his countenance in a neutral expression. He realizes his error in allowing his king to see his excitement earlier. It seems as if Sennacherib takes delight in disappointing others and dashing their hopes. By showing his on his face he set himself up for disappointment.
Sennacherib secretly congratulates himself as he watches the Rabshakeh go through the mental processes of disappointment and resignation. He believes it is best to keep your servants humble and under your complete control.
“Have the Tartan deliver the message to the king of Judah. Do not fret though my friend as I have plans for you yet.”
The Rabshakeh bows then leaves to relay the king’s answer and directions to the Tartan. Within the hour the Tartan is on his way to Jerusalem. The city gates are shut for the night when he arrives. Rather than camping outside the city for the night he calls out to the gatekeeper.
“Open in the name of Sennacherib, the king of Assyria. I have a reply from his lips for the king of Judah.”
The gatekeeper is reluctant to open the gate as he fears it may be a trick. He quickly sends his runner for the captain of the guard. Once the captain arrives the two men discuss the matter while the Tartan waits on the other side of the gate.
Not used to being denied or even delayed the Tartan begins to rattle the gate.
“Open now before I return to my master and he bid me to burn your gates to the ground!”
The gatekeeper reluctantly agrees and the two men remove the bar from the door in the gate to allow the Tartan entrance. The captain escorts the Tartan through the city to the palace. A runner had been sent ahead to inform the king of the arrival of an answer from Sennacherib.
Hezekiah is on his throne by the time the Tartan and the captain reach him. He motions both men into the room as soon as they arrive.
“You have a message for me” inquires Hezekiah.
“I do. ‘The great king of Assyria demands no less than three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold be delivered to him within three days’ time.’”
Hezekiah knew the price would be high but he was not expecting such a large sum be delivered so quickly. The problem wasn’t necessarily the size of the payment but the short time to raise it. There would be no time for Hezekiah to gather it in taxes from the people and what he had on hand wasn’t enough.
“Make our guest comfortable for the night. He will have my answer in the morning.”
The captain escorts the Tartan to his chambers for the night. He also arranges for a meal to be brought to him. His final act is to station guards outside the chambers of the Tartan. The Tartan was not surprised by the guards as it would be something he would have done in the captain’s place but he felt duty bound to object.
“You treat me as a prisoner? I am an envoy of the great king Sennacherib. He will be most displeased to hear how his servants are treated.”
“No disrespect is intended Tartan. The guard is for your safety. It would be very difficult to explain to Sennacherib if any harm should befall you.”
“Are you saying that I am not safe within the king’s own palace?”
“Not so my lord. My task as the king’s captain is to be on guard at all times; whether I deem it safe or not.”
“Very well then. You may extend me the courtesy of protection but nothing more.”
Once the Tartan is safely behind a closed door the captain instructs his men to not only ‘protect’ the Tartan but to protect the king if the Tartan decides to move about in the night.
“Are we to restrain him if he does” asks one of the guard.
“Not unless he is carrying a weapon or nears the king’s chambers. Keep close eyes on him wherever he goes.”
The guards both salute the captain before he leaves. They will not fail in their duty. Their replacements will be fully briefed also before they relinquish their posts.
The captain makes his way back to the throne room to report on their guest’s accommodations. When he enters the throne room he sees the king pacing the floor. This is very distressing to him.
“My king, may I be of service?”
Hezekiah stops in his tracks and looks over to the captain.
“Not unless you have any ideas how to come up with another five talents of gold in two days.”
The captain understands the king’s distress as he heard the message along with the king. Sennacherib is not known for his mercy. The towns of Judah are falling like leaves in autumn under his feet. Jerusalem is depending on their king for deliverance. Summoning all the bravery he has, the captain questions his king.
“Where have you looked for resources?”
Hezekiah takes no offense and immediately answers the captain’s question.
“I began preparations as soon as I sent the message to Sennacherib, I emptied my storehouse and that of the Temple. I called in any debts owed and took whatever payment was immediately available. I had hoped it would be enough but I am still lacking.”
“Are there any items of gold that could be melted down?”
“The bracelets of the queen have already been counted in as well as any chains of gold or silver. The only thing held out is my own crown. I would gladly include it if it cleared up the difference.”
“What of items within the Temple” asks the captain with trepidation.
“I would NEVER melt the items of worship belonging to the Lord. I did include the pieces brought in by my father and what was stripped when he dismantled the carts.”
Both men are silent as they continue to think over their desperate problem. The captain has a flash of memory of when he was guarding the workers and supplies as the Temple doors and doorposts were being repaired. The smiths were melting pure gold and overlaying the previous layers that were worn.
“My king, I have an idea. Please hear me out before making a decision.”
Hezekiah looks intently at his captain. The captain’s own words tell Hezekiah that he will probably not like the solution presented but he is desperate.
“Speak. I will listen.”
“Some months ago I oversaw a refurbishment project in the Temple. The doors and doorposts were being overlaid again with gold…”
Hezekiah could already see where this was going and he began to bristle at the thought of tearing into the Lord’s House. The captain rushed on before Hezekiah could voice his objections.
“…The Lord has blessed us greatly even before you undertook this task. The gold applied was a gift; an expression of thanksgiving. It is not vital for the structure of the Temple or the worship of the Lord. And it was a vast amount of gold that was used in this process. It would surely make up the shortfall.”
Hezekiah’s shoulders drop as he resigns himself to the captain’s reasoning. It would take time to strip the gold back off the doors and doorposts. If this was to be his solution work would have to begin immediately.
“We would need to begin immediately in order to have the task completed in time. Send men to the homes of the smiths who completed the work. Impress upon them the urgency of the task.”
The captain bowed and then hurried to the garrison to dispatch his men on their tasks.
By dawn the smiths were already hard at work. They paused long enough for the morning sacrifice to be offered to the Lord then returned to their work. Most of the gold was on the inside of the Temple and out of view of the people. This was advantageous when it came to keeping their work and progress secret from the Tartan. He had decided to wander around the city before meeting with the king. The guards appointed to him were never more than a few steps away during his roaming.
Hezekiah summoned the Tartan after completing his morning meal. He was stalling without being obvious. He was waiting a report from the captain on whether or not the smiths felt they would be able to recover enough of the gold to meet Sennacherib’s demands.
As Hezekiah was making his way into his throne room the captain approached him.
“What news do you have?”
“The smiths inform me that they should be able to remove eight to ten talents of gold from the doors and doorposts. Eight if they work on the inside only. Ten if they remove what is visible to the people.”
“Tell them to do the eight. It will be enough and the people will not suffer.”
“Plus the Tartan will be none the wiser.”
“This is true. I will see him now and answer his king’s demand.”
The two part ways as both attend to tasks they would rather not be doing. They will do them none the less.
The Tartan is ushered into the throne room after the king is seated.
“I trust you slept well” offered Hezekiah.
“As well as can be expected when one is away from home.”
Hezekiah nods his understanding.
“As to the demands of your king, I will meet them as stated.”
“You have the resources required?”
“I do. I am assembling them even now. They will be ready when required, not a moment earlier.”
The Tartan eyes Hezekiah with skepticism but doesn’t call him out as a liar. He will let time prove out the words of Judah’s king.
“I will await the delivery of your tribute at Lachish.”
“You are welcome to wait and escort it back yourself.”
“I have been away from my post too long as it is. I trust your men will be able to find me when the time comes.”
“As you wish.”
Hezekiah is MORE than happy to see the Tartan leave but hospitality dictated that he at least make the offer of accommodations. The Tartan nods to Hezekiah and makes his way directly out of the city and back to his post in Lachish.
The next two days are spent in stripping and recasting the gold into coins. Hezekiah wants no connection made between the gold and the Temple. If Sennacherib knew of the wealth within the Temple he might decide to forego the tribute and take Jerusalem anyway.
Morning of the appointed day dawns and the captain is once again guarding the gold. The gold that once adorned the doors and doorposts of the Temple. He feels a twinge of guilt in suggesting this avenue to Hezekiah but he also knows there was no other way. He and his men will escort the tribute to Lachish and present it to Sennacherib.
The journey is uneventful as the company makes its way to Lachish. It is a small company of fifty so as not to appear to the Assyrians as an opposing force. They reach Lachish by midday. A guard post halts them just outside the city.
“What business do you have here” demands the guard in charge.
“We have come to meet with the Tartan. We bring the tribute required by Sennacherib from Hezekiah, king of Judah” replies the captain.
The guard sends a runner to locate the Tartan and inform him of the envoy. The runner and the Tartan arrive in short order.
“Captain, how nice to see you again” the Tartan offers with a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes.
“And you also Tartan” replies the captain. “Two can play this game” he thinks as he also offers a false smile.
“I was beginning to wonder if you would make it on time.”
“My king abides by his word. I bear the tribute required. Three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. You may inspect it if you wish.”
“Thirty talents of gold? Did I not say thirty five?”
“You did not. Your words were very clear.”
“Fine. I will take your word for it. Let me see it.”
The Tartan makes a great show of inspecting the content of the tribute before waving the captain to follow him.
“We will present this together to my king. He will want to ensure it is complete also.”
The captain nods and begins to follows the Tartan. Before going ten paces the Tartan stops and turns back to the group of Judean soldiers.
“You alone will accompany me” he says while pointing to the captain. “Your men will wait here, under my protection.”
Assyrian guards step closer to the company of Judean soldiers. The captain quickly slashes his hand across his chest instructing his soldiers to keep their swords sheathed. They may be the best fighting men of Judea but the odds of them surviving a battle while in the heart of the Assyrian camp are too small to calculate.
“I will need some of my men to carry the tribute.”
“My men will be only too glad to assist you with this.”
The Tartan waves his hand and four soldiers step forward and lift the tribute from its resting place on the cart it was transported on. It hangs heavily between them. The Tartan turns and resumes making his way to where Sennacherib waits. The captain and the guards carrying the tribute fall in behind him. No words are spoken as the group crosses the camp and makes its way into the city.
Sennacherib has confiscated the most lavish house in the city and made it his own. The Tartan leads the group through the gates and onto the doorstep. Here they wait to be announced and summoned by Sennacherib. Their wait is not long and soon they are standing before the king of Assyria, arrayed in all his splendor.
Sitting at a long table piled high with food is Sennacherib. Every finger on his hands are adorned with two rings. His robe is of the deepest purple and is puddled behind and beside him. His crown is jewel encrusted and ornate in its metal work. Strands of gold are woven together to form braids and then draped from multiple points along upper posts. Gold studs ring the base with leaves of gold forming a gleaming garland just above them.
The captain recognizes the deliberate show of wealth meant to intimidate the ‘poor’ man from Judah. He doesn’t fall for it in the least. He holds his head high as he faces the king of Assyria and offers the tribute from his king.
“O king, I present to you the tribute required from the hand of king Hezekiah of Judah.”
“Have you counted it” Sennacherib snarls at the Tartan.
“I have my king. It is three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. Exactly as instructed.”
The captain notices that the Tartan didn’t try to inflate the price when speaking with his king.
“And is it on time to meet the deadline” asks Sennacherib.
“Just barely my king” replies the Tartan.
Sennacherib doesn’t seem anxious to inspect it himself. He is busy with the delicacies before him on the table. No one moves from where they are standing while Sennacherib devours more of his meal. He finally looks up as if not realizing he was being observed and waves a hand in dismissal.
“You can go now” he calls out between bites.
The captain bows slightly in respect while the others do so deeply. They all turn as one and leave Sennacherib to his meal. They don’t feel his eyes upon them as soon as their backs are to him. He is NOT pleased with the king of Judah. He wasn’t supposed to be able to raise the tribute so soon. He will have to come up with another plan to take Jerusalem.
The captain and his men quickly retrace their steps back to Jerusalem. They are more than happy to be done with that task. The captain goes straight to the palace upon entering the city. The king is awaiting his report.
“How did it go” asks Hezekiah.
“The Tartan tried to change the terms initially but he relented. Sennacherib accepted the tribute without question but seems to have gone out of his way to impress me with his wealth.”
“How is that?”
“He was dressed in a manner appropriate for meeting high ranking dignitaries but was seated at an overflowing table instead. It felt as if he wanted me to comment on his display or be in awe of it somehow.”
“You are a very perceptive man. I have no doubt you saw his intentions clearly but why would he be doing this?”
“I have no idea. Maybe he just likes being showy. I do not trust the man. I fear he may go back on his word.”
“It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he did but how could he continue to rule? His men knew the terms of the agreement. A king is nothing without his word.”
“You my king honor your word but I have my doubts about that king. He may rule by other means.”
“You may be right. We must prepare the people, just in case.”
“What would you have them do? Most are not soldiers. They cannot stand and fight against such an army.”
“I don’t think Sennacherib would send military forces right away. He would probably try the tactics of dividing the people and pitting them against their leaders.”
“How can we protect against such a strategy?”
“I will address the people directly in the morning. It is time they knew the truth and what may still be to come.”
The captain nodded his head in agreement. There is nothing more to say so he is dismissed by the king and returns to his chambers in the garrison. Here he will ponder the future of his people. And he will pray for their rescue.
Hezekiah spends the remaining hours of the day sending out dispatches to the various districts within the city, calling them to assemble following the morning sacrifice. He also spends time contemplating what he will say to the people whom the Lord has entrusted to him.
The aroma from the morning sacrifice still hangs in the air as Hezekiah stands on the steps of the Temple. The whole of Jerusalem is assembled before him. He waits until the noise of conversation dies down before beginning to address the people.
“I have called you here today to tell you of what is transpiring now between Assyria and our people. Many, if not all, of you know of the Assyrian forces that have been marching through Judah, falling cities in their path. You probably are also aware of the fact that I refused to serve Assyria as their vassal. My father, king Ahaz had chosen that path for reasons of his own. But things have changed since I severed those ties of bondage to our people.
We were in serious danger of becoming one of the cities that fall to Sennacherib. I humbled myself before Assyria on behalf of my people and offered tribute to their king. His demand was heavy and required even the gold that had been overlaid on the doors and doorposts of the Temple be removed and given to satisfy this demand.”
Hezekiah pauses to let his words sink in. He also takes this time to recompose himself as he is near his own breaking point of sorrow.
“The tribute was delivered at midday yesterday” continues Hezekiah. “But there is concern that Sennacherib may find another cause or way to attack Jerusalem. One way that has been suggested is to divide the people one against the other. This would be done through a campaign of words; seeds of doubt and dissention planted in our hearts. Our ONLY hope is in our Lord. He is our deliverer. Do NOT forget His miracles. Meditate on them like never before. And when; I say ‘when’ not ‘if’ because I truly believe it is only a matter of time. WHEN Sennacherib sends dissention and doubt among us answer him not a word. This is my command to you. Take it to heart and stand by it as I stand by each of you. DO NOT engage our enemy in discourse. DO NOT answer them even with the time of day. SAY NOTHING when they stand before you. Let their words fall on deaf ears and guarded hearts.”
Hezekiah looks out over his people once more. His heart is breaking for the fear he is certain is rippling through them. He realizes the only thing he can do is turn them, and himself, over to the hand of the Lord. With this revelation he calls for the priests to present one more sacrifice; one of supplication for deliverance. Once this sacrifice is completed the people break up and return to their homes.
Two weeks go by before the fears of Hezekiah stand on his doorstep. Sennacherib has sent a contingent of soldiers along with the Tartan, the Rab-saris, and the Rabshakeh to confront the king and his people. Hezekiah did not answer their summons personally. Sennacherib had sent emissaries so Hezekiah sent some of his own. In his place went Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebnah the secretary, and Joah the recorder. These men were Hezekiah’s most trusted advisors. They would bring him word of the encounter.
Hezekiah’s three advisors stood before the Assyrian envoy with their heads held high and their backs straight. They waited in silence to hear the words of Sennacherib. Their wait was short as the Rabshakeh, full of himself, was all too ready to begin the exchange.
“Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? Behold, you are trusting now 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. 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 in Jerusalem”? 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. 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? Moreover, is it without the Lord that I have come up against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, “Go up against this land and destroy it”’” (verses 19-25).
Hezekiah’s three advisors were aware of the people crowding the walls. Their desire was to shield them from the words of dissention spewing from the mouth of the Rabshakeh. Eliakim spoke the thoughts of the three.
“Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are on the wall” (verse 26b).
The Rabshakeh knew exactly what he was doing when choosing the language of Judah to present his case. He wanted the people to hear. He wanted them to become discouraged and to turn against their king.
“Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and to drink their own urine?” (verse 27).
The Rabshakeh got even louder. He dropped all pretense of speaking only to Hezekiah’s advisors. He went directly after the hearts of the people listening in.
“Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered the lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?” (verses 28b-37).
The words of the Rabshakeh died on the wind unanswered. Not a word was spoken by ANY man in response to what was just said. The people trusted their king and their God. They had meditated on His miracles as their king had directed them to do and they had remained silent as he commanded.
After several minutes of silence from the people the Rabshakeh grew frustrated. There was nothing more to be gained by standing here. He had been given authority to deliver this message and to escort those who would walk with him back to Lachish. He was NOT given the authority to use physical force against the people; yet. He called to the troops in Aramaic and they pull back away from the city for a time before marching back to Lachish.
Once the last soldier had faded from view Eliakim, Shebna and Joah turn back towards the city. On the way back they tear their clothes as a demonstration of their anguish at the words of the Rabshakeh. Their hearts ached for the people who had stood witness to the exchange. They were also outraged at the characterization of the Lord as no stronger than the gods of all the other nations.
The three men came to Hezekiah to give him a full report. He knew the news was bad as soon as he saw the state of their clothing. Robes torn from the neck downward was not a sign of joy but of great sorrow. Hezekiah steeled himself as the three men took up position before him.
“Tell me exactly what was said. Leave nothing out.”
Joah the recorder spoke for the group. He recounted each and every word the Rabshakeh had spoken, even his refusal to speak in Aramaic.
Hezekiah’s response mirrored his advisors. He too tore his robes. He also covered himself with sackcloth and went to his Source of hope. He went into the House of the Lord. There he brought together another team. One that would carry his distress to the prophet Isaiah. He would know what to do. He would know how to handle the disgraceful words of the Rabshakeh; his blaspheme against the God of Israel.
Eliakim, Shebna and the senior priest stood before Hezekiah. He instructed them each to put on sackcloth as he had done. Once this was done he spoke the words he wanted carried to the prophet Isaiah.
“This is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the Lord your God heard all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke the words that the Lord your God has heard; therefore lift up your prayers for the remnant that is left” (verses 3-4).
Isaiah was not surprised by their coming, nor was he astonished at their words. God had heard the words of the Rabshakeh and had spoken His intent to Isaiah. He had an answer ready for Hezekiah’s messengers. A message of hope.
“Say to your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled Me. Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land and I will make him fall by the sword of his own land’” (verses 6-7).
Hezekiah’s messengers were more than willing to bring this answer form the prophet back to their king. Hezekiah was as grateful to hear it as his advisor had been. He removed the sackcloth from his body and offered a sacrifice of praise to the Lord before returning to his palace. He would wait upon the Lord and see the answer He had promised.
(to be continued)
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I’m sorry for the length of this story. It would have been shorter if I hadn’t put the two days together but I felt they needed to be told as one. I’m sitting here at 1:10 AM and marveling at how bold Sennacherib was to try and sow division in the city. I’m wondering why he didn’t honor the agreement he made. Probably because he felt he could get more another way. More power, more wealth, more conquests, more territory… This man had no end to his ambition.
Make no mistake; God used Sennacherib in punishing Israel. I believe he also used him in solidifying Judah, even if only for a while. God can use ANYONE to accomplish His will even if they think they are in control. God, the Creator of the universe is in control. And He will not be mocked. One day even those of our time will realize this fact. I wonder what that judgement will look like.
Father God, thank You that You ARE in control. Even when it looks like everything around me is falling apart, I can trust You to hold together what is important. Some of the things ‘falling apart’ probably needed to ‘fall off’ for us to come closer. Don’t let me lose sight of what is important in this falling away process.
The thing I’m struggling with most right now Lord is focus. I’m trying to fill my days with things to keep my mind and hands busy so I keep my mouth (eating) less busy. I know my extra eating is emotional but I am finding myself powerless in the face of it. I don’t want to return to destructive old ways but I need Your help in balancing this part of my life. Please don’t have that ‘balance’ be a high number on the scale. Also please don’t have that ‘balance’ be so many hours of exercise that I can’t maintain it long term. That’s what I’m struggling with now. I give You control once again of this area of my life. YOU are strong when I am weak.