Let’s turn now to II Kings, chapter eighteen, as we come now to the reign of Hezekiah. He and Josiah probably rank as the two greatest kings, outside of David. Hezekiah probably a little above the others. But, one of the best kings of the tribe of Judah, after David.
So it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea [Now Hoshea remember, was the last king of Israel. It was during the reign of Hoshea that the nation of Israel fell to Assyria. He reigned for nine years, so in the third year of his reign,] Hezekiah began to reign in Judah. He was twenty five years old when he began his reign; he reigned for twenty nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name is Abi, [And it probably is Abaji, rather than Abi. Abi, means, “My father”. In Chronicles, her name is Abaji, which is, “My Father is Jehovah”. So, the Chronicles is probably the, and it could be she was just called Abi, for short, but,] she is the daughter of Zachariah. And Hezekiah did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did (18:1-3).
So he modeled his kingdom after David. Now, he had a very wicked father. His father had led Judah into idolatry. His father had introduced the worship of Baal, but Hezekiah no doubt, under the strong influence of Isaiah, was led away from the acts of his father, and did lead in a spiritual renewal for the people. The accounts are far more elaborated upon, in II Chronicles. But here in II Kings, we read that…
He removed the high places, [Now in the reading of the other kings of Judah, we find that “They did right in the sight of the Lord, however they did not remove the high places”. It was something that was allowed to continue, during the reign of the other kings. But, Hezekiah makes a complete reformation, and even restores these high places, where people have built altars, and would offer sacrifices, and would offer incense before these altars. They were still worshiping Jehovah, however the Lord had said, that they should worship Him in Jerusalem. But the other kings sort of just allowed this to go on, it was a convenience kind of a thing. Beware of convenience religion. It was something that was obviously displeasing to God, and Hezekiah removed these high places. But, he also cut,] broke the images, [Now the images were introduced by his father, Ahaz, and he broke the images.] he cut down the groves, [The places of pagan worship.] and he broke in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan (18:4).
So this brazen serpent that Moses had raised in the wilderness, at the time when the children of Israel were under the attack of these snakes, deadly poisonous snakes, were dying as a result of the snake bites. They came to Moses, and they said, “We sinned against God, we’ve sinned against you in our complaining against the Lord, please pray to the Lord for us, that we might live”. Moses prayed, and the Lord instructed him to make this brazen serpent, to put it on a pole in the midst of the camp, and whoever was bitten by these snakes, if they would look at this brazen serpent on the pole, would live.
So Moses followed the instruction of the Lord, and in time this brazen serpent became an object of worship. It became like an idol. It was a sacred relic, and the people began to burn incense before it. They made it sort of an altar, an object of worship itself. Because it reminded them of that time that God worked in such a powerful way, with their forefathers.
But as we pointed out in the lesson this morning, if you have to look back, at the time of God’s work and blessing upon your life, if you can’t look around and see a present-tense relationship, then you are in a dangerous spiritual state. You’ve been sliding backwards. Your relationship with God should be more tight, and exciting tonight then it has ever been. Or else, you slidden back from a point of greater dedication. Greater commitment, greater experience of God’s power and love within your life. When a person begins to worship a relic, an object, it is a sign of spiritual decay. The loss of the consciousness of God’s present work. But it is also a sign of that longing to again see the work of God.
These people were worshiping this brazen serpent, so he broke it in pieces, and called it, “Nehushtan”, which means, “A thing of brass”. It isn’t a magic amulet, it’s not some kind of God. It’s only a thing of brass, and he called it for what it was. Broke it in pieces.
And he trusted in Jehovah, God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. [He was outstanding of the descendants of David, upon the throne. None quite as equal either before, or after.] For he clave to Jehovah, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses (18:5-6).
Now there were other kings that were commended for their faithfulness to the Lord. Asa was one. But unfortunately, in his later years, Asa turned from the Lord, began to rely upon man. Hezekiah remained faithful unto the Lord. He clave, or he stuck with the Lord, and kept His commandments.
“And the Lord was with him”, as the result of Hezekiah’s dedication, the Lord was with him. You remember when Asa became king, and defeated the Ethiopians, the prophet said, “The Lord is with you, while you’ll be with Him. And if you seek Him, He will be found of you. But if you forsake Him, He will forsake you”. Here Hezekiah stuck with the Lord. He kept the commandments of the Lord, and hence God prospered him.
The scripture promises that if a person will keep the law of the Lord, that God will prosper him. “He will be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth his fruit in his season. His leaf also shall not wither. Whatever he does will prosper”. So it is related, and we can the pattern through all of the kings. When they sought the Lord, when they served the Lord, God prospered them. They had power and victory over their enemies. They lived in, in a period of, of strength, and power. When they forsook the Lord, then God would forsake them. They would go into captivity. They would be sacked by their enemies.
So it was a thing where God said it, and then we see the examples of it in the, in the succeeding history of Israel. When Joshua took over from Moses, the Lord said to Joshua, that he should, “Continue in the law, meditate in it day and night, and thus shalt thou make thy way prosperous, thus shalt thou have good success”. Follow the history of Israel from then on. Whenever they kept the law of the Lord, whenever they were obedient to God, whenever there was spiritual revival, it was also marked by spiritual national strength. That is not coincidence! That is just the way things work. When they forsook the Lord, and turned to idols, and turned their backs upon God, then they were defeated by their enemies. This is what God said would happen. Read Deuteronomy, chapter thirty two.
And as Israel, so the United States. As long as we seek the Lord, and as long as we put God at the front, our nation will prosper and be blessed. But, when we turn our backs upon God, we can expect the nation is gonna go down hill. We can see the down hill plunge of the nation today. We can see the economic chaos. No one really knows what’s gonna happen to the stock market. No one really knows what’s gonna happen to the banking industry. No one really knows if we’re gonna have another crash. No one really knows what’s gonna come of this summit meeting with Russia. Are we going to make another treaty with Russia, that will turn out in history, to be a detriment to us? Are we going to be giving away more than we get once again? It seems like the United States is just on a course that spells peril. In the same ratio, that we have forsaken the Lord, and trying to shove God out of the national life. So we see the nation going down. We see the horrible social evils that we aren’t able to cope with. We see drug abuse at a tremendous peak. We see pornography, and all the side effects. We see children running away from home, fourteen, fifteen years old, becoming prostitutes, becoming drug addicts. We see teenage suicide. A million and a half kids attempting suicide every year. Because what is there to live for? We see our nation unable to cope with the financial aspects, and we see a trillion dollar deficit. We see deficit spending by the government. We see all of these ills and yet, somehow we can’t associate it to the fact that we’ve tried to rule God out of the national life. But they go together! What the nation needs is a spiritual revival. With a spiritual revival would again come, the strengthening of God, and the prosperity of God. So with Hezekiah, he initiated the spiritual reform, and God blessed and prospered his reign.
And so the Lord was with him; and prospered whithersoever he went forth: and so he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not. He began to smite the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and unto the borders thereof, and from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city. [The area, the, the territory began to take the territory from the Philistines, all the way down to the Gaza strip.] And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea the son of Elah the king of Israel, that Shalmaneser the king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it. And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, which is the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Israel, Samaria fell. [The northern kingdom came to an end.] And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and he put them in Halah in Habor by the river of Gozan, in the city of the Medes: Because they obeyed not the voice of Jehovah their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, and they would not hear them, nor do them (18:7-12).
So the northern kingdom actually fell because of its disobedience to God. Ruled God out. God stepped out, and that was all.
So Sennacherib then in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, Sennacherib came against all of the fenced cities of Judah, and he took them (18:13).
According to the Assyrian records, and it’s interesting, we have very complete records in it, from the Assyrian annals. The archeologists have uncovered voluminous records from the Assyrian empire, that uh, as we say, are proved to be true because of the bible. In these Assyrian records that, they speak of this invasion of Sennacherib, and according to the records, he took 200,125 captives in this particular invasion. As he captured the other cities of Judah, not coming against, or not taking Jerusalem. But he took the cities of Judah, and the…
Hezekiah the king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, [Where he was at that time, besieging Lachish.] and he said, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me I will bear. [In other words, he was sort of capitulating to Sennacherib. “Whatever you appoint, whatever you say I have to pay, I’ll, I’ll come up with it. Whatever you put on me, I’ll bear”.] and the king of Assyria pointed unto Hezekiah the king of Judah [A tribute] three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. And so Hezekiah gave him all of the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, in the treasures of the king’s house. And at that time Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord, and from the pillars which he [Had earlier] over laid with gold, and he gave it to the king of Assyria. But then the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh [Now these are titles of men. The Tartan, in the Assyrian is, commander in chief. The Rabsaris was, the chief of the Eunuchs. The Rabshakeh was, the sort of, chief of staff, so to speak. He was the low man on the totem pole, of these that came, however he was the spokesman, because he spoke Hebrew. So these three men, emissaries, a political or a uh, envoys from the king of Assyria. He brought, he came, he sent them,] against Jerusalem with a great army. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field (18:14-17).
So an area in the upper pool, the area of Jerusalem, probably in the northern part of the city. The lower pool was the area of the spring of Gihon. Now Hezekiah, knowing that they were coming and were planning an invasion, at that time made this tunnel through 1,700 feet of solid rock. That is recorded in II Chronicles. And, he brought the water from the Nihon spring, under the wall of Jerusalem, and to the pool of Siloam, with a very fascinating engineering feat, especially for the day in which they were doing it.
As you walk through that tunnel today, I’m always amazed every time I walk through. Amazed, first of all, that they’ve talked me into it again. Every time I go through, I say, “This is the last time”. After you’ve been walking in that dark tunnel, and you’ve bumped your head several times, and you’re up to your knees, or up to your waist in water, I always say, “Never again!”. But it seems like you forget, and the next year when you have a bunch of eager beavers, they say, “Oh let’s go walking through”, you know, and I usually capitulate, and say, “Okay, let’s go”. But, every time I do, not only do I get angry for myself for doing it again, but I marvel as I, as I try, you know here you are playing around with a candle, and trying to keep the thing lit, and uh yet, you realize that these guys, with hammers and chisels, not jack hammers. They must have had torches for light.
It must have been smoky and smelly, and yet with these primitive kind of tools, cut this cave 1,700 feet long. They started at both, at either end. One group started at the spring of Gihon, and the other started from the pool of Siloam, digging towards each other. Without modern engineering devices to keep them you know, coming towards each other. When they finally met, they were only about six feet apart. There were areas where they got off on the up and down, but you can see where they corrected themselves on that. But it’s an amazing engineering feat, through solid rock. I mean that rock is solid, and it is hard! Yet these guys carved that tunnel, to bring the water on through.
Now this spring of Gihon was then covered over, so that they did not know exactly where the water supply was coming, for the city of Jerusalem, because they were getting it out of the pool of Siloam, within the city walls. But, “They were meeting in the upper pool, by the fuller’s field”.
And when they had called to the king, the king sent out to them Eliakim which was over his household, [His chief servant.] and Shebna who was the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph who was the recorder. And so Rabshakeh said to them, Speak now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, [Notice he didn’t say, “To king Hezekiah”. The guy is extremely rude, he is discourteous, he is blasphemous. And so he said, “Speak now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king”,] the king of Assyria, What confidence is this where in you trust? You say, (but they are vain words), I have counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom do you trust, that you would rebel against me (18:18-20)?
The king of Assyria had a tremendous spy network. He did know what was going on in Hezekiah’s kingdom. Perhaps some of the captives that he had taken, were telling him just what Hezekiah was planning on doing, the plans for war. Because Hezekiah had summoned for help from Egypt. Even though Isaiah told him he should not. Isaiah told him, “Just trust in the Lord. The Lord will deliver you.” But he did send for help from the Pharaoh, which never came.
And he said, Behold, you trust upon the staff of this bruised reed, [Referring to the Pharaoh. One of the reeds that grows by the Nile river. They are very brittle, they look, you know they look strong, but you go to use them for a cane, and they’ll break. He said, “You trust in one of these bruised reeds”,] even upon Egypt, which if a man leans on it, it will break and pierce his hand: so is the Pharaoh the king of Egypt unto all of those who trust on him. But if you say unto me, We will trust in Jehovah our God: is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah’s taken away, and hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem (18:21-22)?
So he knew, that Hezekiah had removed these high places, and that he had appointed Jerusalem, again as the place to worship God, to offer their sacrifices before the altar, in Jerusalem.
Now therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my Lord the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if you’re able on your part to put riders on them. [Now Israel had an infantry, they had chariots, but they did not have a cavalry. He said, “If you would give me some money, I’ll sell you two thousand horses, but you don’t even have men that can ride them!] And how [In the world] do you think you’re gonna turn away the face of just one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and you put your trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? Am I now come up without Jehovah against this place to destroy it? For Jehovah said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it (18:23-25).
The guy’s really blasphemous. He said, “Don’t you think that Jehovah’s commanding me too? He told me to come up here, and destroy”.
Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, to Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to your servants in the [Aramaic language] Syrian [Or Aramaic. Now the Aramaic was similar to Hebrew, but enough different, that the common people didn’t know Aramaic. However, these fellows did. They didn’t want them conversing with the people. If they’d want to talk to the king, they should do it through the proper channels. There’s a lot of curious people on the walls, listening to what’s going on. They said, “Speak to us in Aramaic”.] We understand it: and don’t talk to us in the Jews’ language in the ears of the people that are on the wall. But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? no he’s sent me to the men that sit on the wall, that they may perish in the famine that will come? [The famine that will be so great that they will be partaking of their own body excrements.] Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and he spoke, saying, Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria: Thus saith the king, Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you: for he will not be able to deliver you out of his hand: Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in Jehovah, saying, Jehovah will surely deliver us, and this city will not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. 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 then you can eat every man of his own vine, and every man of his own fig tree, and drink from your own wells of water: Until I come and take you away to a land that is like your land, a land of corn and wine, and land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil and olive, and honey, that you may live, and not die: don’t hearken to Hezekiah, when he persuades you, saying, Jehovah will deliver us (18:26-32).
So this fellow broke every rule of protocol, and diplomacy in trying to create a rebellion directly among the people. Speaking to the people directly, saying, “Hey don’t listen to your king. He’s telling you that Jehovah’s gonna deliver you, and help you. Don’t believe it. Now, if you fellows will just surrender, just come on out, and surrender, you can dwell here safely in the land. You can eat of your own trees, and vines, and so forth, and then in time, the king of Assyria will come and he will take you from here to another beautiful land. A land where you can have your corn, and wine, and oil, and so forth”. And, he didn’t uh, try to go so far as to say, you know, “You will be able to stay here”. Because, the people knew full well, that Assyria always practiced repopulation, and the distribution of population. Taking people from the area where they were at home, into foreign areas. So, “In time, the gentle, gracious king of Assyria will come, and he will take you into another place. And set you up in another area that’s similar to yours”. Then he said…
Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? [“These other people that we’ve conquered, they all had their gods, they all trusted in their gods, but none of their gods were able to deliver out of the hand of the king.”] Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim, and Hena, and Ivah? they have not even delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who are they among all of the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of my hand, that Jehovah should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? But the people [Are to be commended! They,] held their peace, they did not answer a word: for the king’s commandment to them was, Don’t answer them. So then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the king’s household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the recorder, they came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of Rabshakeh (18:33-37).
And it came to pass, when the king Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went to the house of the Lord (19:1).
In distress, they’re facing an enemy that is admittedly, more powerful than they are. They’re facing great calamity. What does he do? He goes to the house of the Lord. Wise move. “So it came to pass when king Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, went to the house of the Lord”…
And he sent Eliakim, who was over his household, and Shebna, and the elders of the priests, who were covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, a day of rebuke, and blasphemy: for the children are come to birth, and there is not strength to bring them forth. [A proverb that speaks of the dire situation. “We have problems that are greater than we’re able to handle. The situation is greater than what we can bear. We don’t have the strength to handle the situation that we’re facing.”] It may be that Jehovah thy God will hear all of the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master has 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. And so the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah (19:2-5).
Basically, it was a plea for Isaiah to pray unto God, with the hopes that God would hear the blasphemous things that were said by this emissary from Assyria, and that God would honor his name.
Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, thus saith Jehovah, Be not afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 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. So Rabshakeh returned, and fount the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish. And when he heard say that Tirhakah the king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come to fight against thee: he sent messengers again to Hezekiah, [Now this was a powerful king. He became the king of Egypt, he began in Ethiopia. An extremely powerful king, and they heard that he was coming to Hezekiah’s aid. And so he sent a message to Hezekiah,] the king of Judah, saying, Don’t let your God in whom you trust deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hands of the king of Assyria. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, they’ve destroyed them utterly: and do you think you’re gonna be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed; Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the children of Eden that were in Thelasar? Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, and Hena, and Ivah? And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and he read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and he spread it out before the Lord (19:6-14).
Here he gets this letter of threat, from the king of Assyria. He goes to the house of the Lord, and he just spreads it out, as though the Lord didn’t know what was in it. He says, “Look Lord, what this guy’s written”.
And so Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and he said, O Lord God of Israel, which dwells between the cherubims, you are the God, even you alone, [Recognizing there’s only one true God. One living God. “You are alone, God. There are other gods, gods plenty. The gods of the heathen, but there is only one true, and living God.” And so you, he refers to Him as the living God. “You’ve seen the letter which they’ve sent to reproach the living God.” Bow down your ear, [Now that phrase, “Bow down your ear”, is uh, you see an older person when they are getting a little hard of hearing, they’ll say, “What?”, you know and they’ll bend their ear down, and that’s what he’s saying. “Lord, bend your ear down, I want to talk to you a minute”, you know, and, “Bow down thine ear”. It’s sort of bending your ear down, so that you can hear what I’m going to say.] open Lord, your eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands (19:15-17),
“They have conquered. They have destroyed.”
And they have cast their gods into the fire: but they were really not gods, but they were just the works of men’s hands, they were made of wood and stone: and therefore they’ve destroyed them. [“Lord, what he said is true, they have wiped out these other nations, and they’ve destroyed their gods. But,”] Therefore, Jehovah our God, I beseech thee, save us out of his hand, that all of the kingdoms out of the earth may know that you are Jehovah God, even you only (19:18-19).
I think that we should pause at this point to make a few comments about some of the teachings, the crazy, weird, false teachings that are going on today in many circles. In the mystic religions of India, Hinduism. They have a belief that a man, through fastings, prayers, and a rigorous procedure, can come to an experience where he turns into a god. He becomes a god. An Avatar. And, there are many such as the Rashinesh, and others who claim to have had this experience of being, of transcending from the human into the divine. Sibaba, and others who claim to be God, and who are worshiped by thousands of people, as God. In fact Sibaba counts his worshipers into the millions. People actually believe that these men are gods incarnate. They worship them as gods.
That teaching has had a tremendous influence on the New Age movement. Thus those of the New Age movement, are declaring that man is God, and the New Age is the developing of our consciousness into that universal consciousness. It is being freed from the old traditions of the past, from the limited types of thinking of the past, it’s coming into this altered state of consciousness where, “I can rise into the universal consciousness, and I become one with universal consciousness, I realize that I am God. That I control my own destiny. That I create my own reality. That by my thinking processes, I can control reality. I am what I think, and I’m not to look to some outside force, or power, or God for help. But I’m to look within, for God is within, for I am God.” The teaching of the New Age movement, which is borrowed from Hinduism.
Now unfortunately, this has crept into the church! Among many of the charismatic leaders, they are now coming out with the very same declarations. That, “You are God”, and it is a, well I, I just can’t imagine a person stupid enough to think that he’s God! But yet many people are swallowing this, hook, line, and sinker! They talk about you know, “The God within”, and, “The universal consciousness”, and, “All is good”. They get these stupid smiles on their face, and think that they’re gods. Tragic indeed.
Of course, the Mormon’s also feel that if they follow faithfully, the Mormon religion, that their marriages are sealed within the temple, and they’re faithful in their practices as Mormons, that when they die, they will be able to go to some planet out in the universe, and they will be gods. They will be able, with their celestial wives, to populate these planets, and to oversee the development of their forms of life, that they create on these other planets. Watching over them, and all. They have that same hope within the Mormon faith. That they are going to become gods.
That whole, “I will be like the Most High”, goes back before man, when Satan, in Isaiah, the fourteenth chapter, said, “I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven. I will ascend above the stars. I will sit in the congregation in the mount, on the sides of the north. I will be like the Most High”. “And yet, how art thou fallen, O Lucifer, son of the morning, thou that didst weaken the nations, been cast down to the sides of the pit.” But in the garden of Eden, when Satan came to Eve to tempt her, he said, “God doesn’t want you to eat of the fruit of that tree, for He knows that in the day that you eat of it, you will be as God, knowing good from evil”. So it is a fallacy that has existed, from the beginning of man’s existence. That idea that, “I can be as God, that I can be God. That I can come into a God-state. That I can come into, I can ascend into this God-state, where I control my own reality. Where I’m in control of my own world”.
So a man’s god is often himself, or the projection of himself. Here, Hezekiah as he is speaking to the Lord, says that, “You alone are God. It’s true that Assyria has conquered these other nations, but their gods weren’t true gods, they weren’t real gods! They were gods of man’s making. They had made their own gods. They’ve been conquered, and tossed in the fire, and destroyed. But you alone are God. There’s only one true God, one living God, one creator”. So, Hezekiah’s prayer. “Now, I beseech thee, save us out of his hand, that all of the world may know, that you only are Jehovah God.”
Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith Jehovah God of Israel, That which you have prayed to me against Sennacherib the king of Assyria I have heard. [“Bow down thy ear Lord, and open your eyes.” And the Lord sends the message, “I heard you”.] 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 has shaken her head at thee. Who have you reproached and blasphemed? against whom have you exalted your voice, and lifted up your eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel. And by thy messengers you have reproached the Lord, and you have 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, and the choice fir trees: and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel. I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet I’ve dried up all of the rivers of the besieged places Has thou not heard long ago how I have done it, and from ancient times that I formed it? now I have brought it to pass, [That you should be laid waste. That you should be,] that thou shouldest be to lay waste the fenced cities into ruinous heaps. Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green vegetable, and as the grass of the house tops, and as the corn that is blasted before it is grown up. But I know your abode, and your going out, and your coming in, and your rage against me. And because your rage against me and the tumult is come up into my ears, therefore I will put my hook in your nose, and my bridle in your lips, and I will turn thee back by the way which you came. And this shall be a sign unto you, You 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 ye shall sow, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof. And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward (19:20-30).
So the message to Hezekiah. God has heard the threats, He’s heard the blasphemy. He’s gonna turn back this Assyrian king. “And God will give you the sign. This year, you’re gonna eat of what’s planted. Next year, the same. But the third year, you’re gonna go out and plant your fields, and your vineyards, and you’re gonna dwell there in peace. You’ll eat the fruit. For the remnant, of God’s seed that has escaped shall take root downward, and bear fruit upward.”
For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: and the zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. [Isaiah’s words of comfort. “God has heard your prayer. And God is going to destroy your enemies.”] Therefore thus saith Jehovah concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with a shield, nor cast a bank against it. [Jerusalem will be spared a siege from Assyria.] By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith Jehovah (19:31-33).
This seems like a totally preposterous prophecy! It seems totally unlikely, because the Assyrian army is just outside! They’re ready to set up the attack against the city. They’re ready to start the siege. The troops are massing! And, Isaiah gives this most unrealistic prophecy. “They’re not gonna shoot an arrow against this city. They’re not gonna lay up a bank against the walls.”
For God said, I will defend this city, to save it, for my own sake, and for my servant David’s sake. And it came to pass that night, that an angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and eighty five thousand men: and when the others arose early in the morning, they were surrounded by all these corpses (19:34-35).
God did a job on the Assyrians, wiping out 185,000 in one night! An angel of the Lord. Angels have to be interesting created beings of God indeed! And quite powerful! You remember when in the garden, when Judas led the soldiers to arrest Jesus, and Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus, that Jesus said to Peter, “Put away your sword. Don’t you realize that if I wanted, at this moment I could call on ten legions of angels to deliver me?” Now, if one angel could wipe out 185,000 Assyrians, imagine what ten legions of angels could do!
Which sort of shows to us the folly of seeking to defend the Lord, which we often feel sort of called upon. “I’ve gotta defend the Lord.” Really, the Lord doesn’t need my defense. He’s perfectly capable of handling Himself in any situation. I will stand up for the Lord, I will bear witness of the Lord. But it isn’t necessary that I defend the Lord, He is perfectly capable of doing so. So the angel of the Lord smote the Assyrian army,185,000.
Now, this whole area right in here, these two chapters, really take up most of the book of Isaiah. The majority of the book of Isaiah. From seventh chapter on, is taken up in this same period of history. So to really understand the book of Isaiah, if you could, and if you would, it would be extremely beneficial to jump over to Isaiah at this time, and just read. Because, you’ll get such a fuller understanding of this little portion of history. Here in the Kings, it’s extremely abbreviated. It is expanded some in Chronicles, but Isaiah, the majority of the book of Isaiah, is devoted to this period of history.
Isaiah tells us that the time that God wiped out the Assyrian army, that a great fear fell upon all of those men in Judah. The sinners in Zion, and the hypocrites were afraid when they saw what God did to the Assyrians. And they said, “Who amongst us can dwell in the midst of the devouring fire?” I mean they were really smitten with real fear when they saw the power of God against the Assyrians. Those that were sinners and hypocrites, man they thought, “Uh oh! Who among us can dwell in the midst of this devouring fire?” So Isaiah gives you a lot of further insight, concerning Hezekiah, his ministry as the king and so forth. But God wiped them out!
So Sennacherib the king of Assyria departed, and he returned and dwelt at Ninevah. But it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped to the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead (19:36-37).
So the end of the reign of Sennacherib, and of his blasphemies against the Lord.
We’ll continue next week in Kings, taking chapters twenty, and twenty one, as we look at the rest of Hezekiah’s reign, and then the evil reign of Manassah, his son, in chapter twenty one.
Lord we know that the fear of man, brings a snare, but they who trust in the Lord, shall be saved. We see the example of that tonight before us, as Hezekiah put his trust in You. As he obeyed Your word, as it came to him from Isaiah. You destroyed their enemies. So Lord, we put our trust in You, that You might destroy our enemies. Lord, we know that if You are for us, no man can really be against us. Deliver us Lord, from the fallacy of thinking that we have to defend ourselves, or that we have to defend You. We thank You Lord, that You are our defense, and You are our strength. And we belong to You Lord. You’re perfectly capable of dealing with any, and every situation. So Lord, we rest, we rest in Thee. We trust in Thee, Lord that You will bring to pass your purposes, for this church, and for these people. We know Lord, that You have built your church, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. So we go forth in confidence, and in victory Lord, to become the witness to the world that You would have us to be. To stand against the powers of darkness, though they are overwhelming, though they outnumber us, Lord, we know that we are victorious, because You will fight our battles. Thus Lord, we stand, in Your strength, and we wait upon You for Your victory, as a church body, collectively, and Lord, as individuals, in those individual aspects, and areas of our lives. We place our trust in Thee, Lord, we are your children, we are Your people. Show your strength and Your power Lord, in defending those who trust in thee. Against all odds, against all foes Lord, let us see Your victory be complete. And we thank You Father, In Jesus’ name, Amen.