A Theology Lesson for Sennacherib and the Assyrians
2 Kings 19:19 "Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone."
The event narrated in today’s reading occupies such a significant place in the history of Ancient Israel that the Old Testament repeats this story three times! (2 Kings 18-19, Isaiah 36-37, 2 Chronicles 32). The Assyrians had already carried off the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom and replaced them with foreign peoples. Brutal, arrogant, smug, these Assyrians and their King set their sights on an even greater prize--the city of Jerusalem with its world-renowned temple and frightened inhabitants. The Assyrian army appears to be utterly unstoppable, having mowed down one kingdom after another. The Southern Kingdom teeters on the verge of collapse. Jerusalem alone remains. Moreover, Sennacherib, the king of this empire, does not fear the God of Israel. As far as he is concerned, the Lord is just another deity—weak, helpless, pathetic. His spokesman, the chief of staff, resorts to propaganda and distortions in order to intimidate any who hear him. “God can’t help you; don’t listen to Hezekiah, he’s a liar; come out peacefully and we will treat you well.”
Isaiah captures the attitude of the Assyrians and their king: "When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, 'I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes. For he says: "By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding. I removed the boundaries of nations, I plundered their treasures; like a mighty one I subdued their kings. As one reaches into a nest, so my hand reached for the wealth of the nations; as men gather abandoned eggs, so I gathered all the countries; not one flapped a wing or opened its mouth to chirp."'" (Isa 10:12-14, NIV).
However, "the Lord, the LORD Almighty, will send a wasting disease upon his sturdy warriors; under his pomp a fire will be kindled like a blazing flame." (Isa 10:16)
These poor Assyrians had no idea Whom they were insulting, and they had no idea they were dealing with one of the three godliest kings in Judah’s history whose heart was in tune with God and whose life was fully devoted to Him.
Rich with spiritual nuggets, this story yields many vital principles for believers living in an age not too unlike Hezekiah’s.:
1. The enemy had no knowledge of the Living God. Their experience with religion was based on ritual and tradition. National deities in pagan countries all shared at least one thing in common: they were created by man. It was no big deal to defeat a nation with a god like that. Sennacherib was in for a rude awakening.
2. The Living God, the Creator of heaven and earth, is fully aware of every boastful word raised against Him and will not leave the guilty unpunished. It was the unique privilege of Hezekiah and his fellow Israelites to know this great God personally. This is what set them apart from all other nations of the world.
3. Prayer, motivated solely for God’s name and His glory, unleashes His power with such devastating effects that the enemy has no chance at all. There is no need for a vast army, great weapons, or superior advantage. With God, none of that matters.
The enemies of today are strikingly similar to the Assyrians of old: proud, arrogant, boastful, blasphemous, smug, abusive, disrespectful, ignorant, immoral, unethical, crude, and . . . utterly clueless! Their railings against God’s Word and His people are fully known by our Living Lord. They may prevail for a time because God allows them to—but their end is certain! As with godly Hezekiah, let’s be certain that our confidence is in God alone, and our prayers are motivated for His name and glory.