Hezekiah - The Attack of the Adversary
Read Time: 12 Minutes
Hezekiah has worked diligently to return Judah to worshipping the one true God and He prospered them. Assyria is also continuing to expand its kingdom. In the 7th of year Hoshea King of Israel and the fourth year of Hezekiah, Shalmaneser King of Assyria came up against Samaria and after three years of battle Samaria was overthrown and the inhabitants, Israel, were taken away and the area repopulated (II Kings 18:9-12). This puts an end to Israel as a nation and even more pressure on Judah.
Ten years later Assyria has had a change of leadership, Sennacherib is now king of Assyria. He has attacked the fenced cities of Judah (about 40) and approaches Jerusalem. There had been some arrangement between Assyria and Judah because the Word tells us in II Kings 18:20 that Hezekiah had rebelled against Assyria and in verse 14 that Hezekiah would return to paying tribute money to Sennecharib. After Hezekiah sent silver and gold to Assyria Sennacherib still set himself up to attack Jerusalem, the compromise didn't work, it seldom does. Hezekiah didn't stand by and wait for Sennacherib's army to show up he went to work:
II Chronicles 32
:2 And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib was come,
and that he was purposed to fight against Jerusalem,
:3 He took counsel with his princes
and his mighty men
to stop the waters of the fountains which were without the city:
and they did help him.
:4 So there was gathered much people together, who stopped all the fountains,
and the brook that ran through the midst of the land, saying,
Why should the kings of Assyria come, and find much water?
:5 Also he strengthened himself,
and built up all the wall that was broken,
and raised it up to the towers,
and another wall without,
and repaired Millo in the city of David,
and made darts and shields in abundance.
:6 And he set captains of war over the people,
and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city,
and spake comfortably to them, saying,
:7 Be strong and courageous,
be not afraid nor dismayed
for the king of Assyria,
nor for all the multitude that is with him:
for there be more with us than with him:
:8 With him is an arm of flesh;
but with us is the LORD our God to help us,
and to fight our battles.
And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
With them is an arm of flesh, with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles. Israel was carried away because they no longer believed God and made him their God. Judah, this small nation will stand against the mighty forces of Assyria because they have the one true God. The people put their trust in God. Greater is God than any army on earth.
Sennacherib's first action was to send high-ranking officials in to spread propaganda. If he could dissuade the people from their trust in God and Hezekiah he could take Jerusalem. The message that Rabshakeh (a title meaning chief of the captains) delivered to Jerusalem is recorded in II Kings 18:17-35, II Chronicles 32:10-19 and Isaiah 36 follows. I will use the record in Isaiah because it is expanded, giving us a bit more information.
Listen to his argument and learn:
:2 And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem
unto king Hezekiah
with a great army.
[Lachish is only a little over 30 miles south west of Jerusalem on Sennacherib's way to Egypt]
And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field.
:3 Then came forth unto him Eliakim,
which was over the house,
:4 And Rabshakeh said unto them,
Say ye now to Hezekiah,
Thus saith the great king,
the king of Assyria,
What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?
:5 I say, sayest thou,
(but they are but vain words)
I have counsel and strength for war:
now on whom dost thou trust,
that thou rebellest against me?
:6 Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed,
whereon if a man lean,
it will go into his hand,
and pierce it:
so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him.
:7 But if thou say to me,
We trust in the LORD our God:
is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away,
and said to Judah and to Jerusalem,
Ye shall worship before this altar?
:8 Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria,
and I will give thee two thousand horses,
if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.
:9 How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master's servants,
and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots
and for horsemen?
:10 And am I now come up without the LORD against this land to destroy it?
the LORD said unto me,
Go up against this land, and destroy it.
Whoa, this is some very strong propaganda! This Rabshakeh, this chief of the captains, is putting out lies and deceits to turn the minds of the people, even in their own language. It takes some great fortitude to stand up against this attack. The Assyrian army is a little over 30 miles away from Jerusalem and here comes this high-ranking official giving the people a way out instead of a battle. He magnifies the strength of Assyria even over that of Egypt. He makes the remark that Hezekiah had told them to trust in the Lord but Hezekiah was the one who had cut down the very gods they believed in. If the people give pledges to Assyria than Rabshakeh will give them two thousand horses. His last statement, "the LORD said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it" is an attempt to persuade the people that he is doing God's will. Did he know of Isaiah's prophecy in Isaiah 10 or did he know why Jonah came to Ninevah, or was this merely part of the deception? Whatever the case his words are dangerous.
After this Rabshakeh is told to speak in the Assyrian language he refuses and continues to speak to the people:
:13 Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews'
language, and said,
Hear ye the words of the great king,
the king of Assyria.
:14 Thus saith the king,
Let not Hezekiah deceive you:
for he shall not be able to deliver you.
:15 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying,
The LORD will surely deliver us:
this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.
:16 Hearken not to Hezekiah:
for thus saith the king of Assyria,
Make an agreement with me by a present,
and come out to me:
and eat ye every one of his vine,
and every one of his fig tree,
and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern;
:17 Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land,
a land of corn and wine,
a land of bread and vineyards.
:18 Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying,
The LORD will deliver us.
Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?
:19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad?
where are the gods of Sepharvaim?
and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?
:20 Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand,
that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?
:21 But they held their peace,
and answered him not a word:
for the king's commandment was, saying,
Answer him not.
Rabshakeh directly attacks God's ability to deliver His People. He knows that if he can get the people of Jerusalem to doubt than the overthrow is certain. But they held their peace . But the people were obedient to their King. They didn't answer Rabshakeh or argue with him. They didn't consider his words.
When these words were delivered to Hezekiah he rent his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth and went to the house of the Lord. He immediately sought God. He also sent priests, his scribe and his steward to Isaiah the prophet to seek God's help.
: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,
who was over the household,
and the elders of the priests
covered with sackcloth,
unto 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 of 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 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 is left.
:5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah.
:6 And Isaiah said unto them,
Thus shall ye say unto your master,
Thus saith the LORD,
Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard,
wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.
:7 Behold, I will send a blast upon him,
and he shall hear a rumour,
and return to his own land;
and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.
Sure enough when Rabshakeh returns to Lachish Assyria was at war with Libnah and Ethiopia was getting ready to attack Assyria. In a last effort Rabshakeh sends messengers again to Jerusalem to deliver the same message to Hezekiah. Hezekiah's reaction:
:14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers,
and read it:
and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD,
and spread it before the LORD.
The first thing to do when faced with trouble or adversity is to take it to God. Spread it before the Lord; lay it all out. Listen to Hezekiah's prayer, he praises God first recognizing His supremacy, he lays out the problem, he voices his concerns and asks for deliverance.
:15 And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD,
:16 O LORD of hosts,
God of Israel,
that dwellest between the cherubims,
thou art the God,
even thou alone,
of all the kingdoms of the earth:
thou hast made heaven and earth.
:17 Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear;
open thine eyes, O LORD, and see:
and hear all the words of Sennacherib,
which hath sent to reproach the living God.
:18 Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations,
and their countries,
:19 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.
:20 Now therefore, O LORD our God,
save us from his hand,
that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD,
even thou only.
Hezekiah is not trusting in his own army or wit to deliver Judah. He trusts in God. The people didn't believe Rabshakeh either, they stayed steadfast on what Hezekiah told them. They believed God could deliver them. Even when the pressure was on the most they didn't waiver. They were convinced and persuaded of God's promises. The words of God via Isaiah are expanded in II Kings 19. Here is part of the prophecy:
II Kings 19
:27 But I know thy abode, [God is speaking to Assyria]
and thy going out,
and thy coming in,
and thy rage against me.
:28 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.
:29 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 plant vineyards,
and eat the fruits thereof.
:30 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward,
and bear fruit upward.
:31 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.
:32 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. [an embankment]
:33 By the way that he came,
by the same shall he return,
and shall not come into this city,
saith the LORD.
:34 For I will defend this city, to save it,
for mine own sake,
and for my servant David's sake.
:35 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.
:36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed,
and went and returned,
and dwelt at Nineveh.
:37 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.
God fought Hezekiah's battle for him. The armies of Judah never raised a weapon.
We are faced with similar situations. There are facts presenting themselves to us frequently that try to dissuade us from the truth of God's Word. God says we are more than conquerors and so we are. God says He shall supply all of our need and He does (not just in the future but right now; hold out your hands). God says give and ye shall receive, do so and you shall receive pressed down shaken together and running over.
Put God's Word in you mind to the point that you are convinced of it no matter what the facts and circumstances appear to be. No matter what anyone tells you, God is on the throne. You can trust in Him. God has given us many examples of Believers trusting in Him and He delivers them so that we may believe and receive.
:20 Now unto him
that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us,
:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus
throughout all ages,
world without end.