Hezekiah had received dreadful news. An official Assyrian representative had delivered an insulting and blasphemous message within the hearing of the people. When the news of this came to the king of Judah, he did what people would do in that day when they wanted to humble themselves under God’s almighty hand. He tore his clothes, put on garments of mourning, and went to the house of God to bring his petition for divine relief.
Hezekiah came to God. He prayed his heart out. He acknowledged the terrible situation that he was facing. He sent word to Isaiah the prophet, and asked for him to pray for the people in Jerusalem. He also reminded Isaiah that the Rabshakeh may have gone too far with his deeply offensive message. He counted on the fact that such an assault against the Name of the Lord could not be overlooked. He placed his hope in God’s defense of His own divine glory.
Everything that the Rabshakeh was attempting to accomplish in the heart of God’s people could be summed up with these words, “Fear Assyria and her king, and surrender now.” It was interesting that when the Word of the Lord came back to Hezekiah through Isaiah, the first thing that God said was, “Do not be afraid.” Assyria would be defeated, not because of any military might from the people of Judah, but by God’s intervention.
The king of Assyria, as God had promised, had to make a hasty retreat. Before he went home, he sent another blasphemous and threatening message to Hezekiah. It must have seemed like the prayers of the king and the words of the prophet had failed. Hezekiah again deeply humbled himself before God. He put the matter before the Lord, and he prayed. He exalted God in the face of the vile insults of the Assyrian ruler. He acknowledged the depth of his military problem, but he insisted that God was not some idol like the gods of the nations whom the Assyrians had defeated. He called out for the Almighty to save His chosen people.
Word again came from Isaiah. Now God had something to say to the Assyrians that He wanted Hezekiah to hear. These mockers of God were despised by the Lord’s people, and they would deal now with the Almighty who had established every dominion known to man. Assyria had power because the God of Israel had ordained it long ago. God knew all about the enemies of His people, and He had heard their raging against Him. Therefore they would be dragged home before they caused any more trouble. The people of Judah would yet have more years of peace, and God would bring an elect remnant out of Judah. Sennacherib would never be able to stop the Lord’s plans.
The determination of God was this: Though Sennacherib might boast that he had trapped Hezekiah like a bird in a cage, the Assyrian king would not enter Jerusalem. By the way that the enemy armies came they would now go back to Assyria. An angel would destroy thousands within the Assyrian forces, and Sennacherib would return to Nineveh, where his own sons would take away his life.
What a turnaround! Yet it would pale in comparison to what would happen to Jesus centuries later. A powerful and unruly mob shouted, “Crucify Him!” Their desire seemed to win the day. They thought that Jesus was defeated and shamed. Yet in the death of Christ, it was the evil commander of a demonic legion of rebellious angels who would be publicly humiliated. The Son of God atoned for our sins, and He would soon rise from the grave in the greatest vindication known to man. His loud cries and tears from Gethsemane and Calvary were heard. His people were saved from the threatening foe, and the door to the eternal city of God was opened for a vast multitude. Now He lives and reigns above. We can have confidence in Him. We need not fall for the boasts of a powerful Sennacherib. We can stand again today in the strength of our Savior.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Our Father, in the day of His earthly ministry, Your Son Jesus Christ turned to You in faith continually. You heard His cries. He was not afraid of the words of men. He trusted You. By His life and death, our deliverance was accomplished. We thank You for the mercy of the cross. We will not believe the lies of the adversary who came against Your Son so long ago. He was defeated through the same cross that became our salvation. We will not listen to the words of men who would mock You. Hear from on high and help us. Your Son takes our prayers and perfects them. He intercedes for us. You will surely glorify Your own Name. The proud boasts of Your adversaries will be utterly overthrown. You are able to capture every enemy. We shall be a band of survivors, though men succeed at taking our lives. What can they do to us? We will surely be in Your blessed presence forever.