December 5, 2021
Scripture: And the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: On what do you rest this trust of yours? Isaiah 36:4 ESV
Observation: Isaiah and the authors of Kings and Chronicles present parallel accounts of the above verse and its surrounding narrative of Hezekiah and Judah’s conflict with Assyria (Isaiah 36-37, 2 Kings 18, and 2 Chronicles 32). The events leading up to the confrontation between Sennacherib’s field commander and Hezekiah’s royal steward tell us that Isaiah had twice warned Hezekiah against seeking the aid and protection of Pharaoh (Isaiah 30:3–5; 31:1–3). Yet, Hezekiah put his trust in those resources that he could see rather than in the unseen work of God. Now Jerusalem was under siege, and its residents were disparaging their future. Egypt no longer could provide aid or protection. Only God could save them.
In the act of desperation, Hezekiah would send Eliakim, his household administrator, Shebna, the secretary, and the senior priests, covered with sackcloth (demonstrating contrition), to Isaiah to seek the prayers of this man of God on their behalf. Isaiah then prophesied that Yahweh would relent this time (due to Assyria’s arrogance) and cause the field officer and his troops to withdraw and chase after a rumored threat elsewhere. But this was only a brief reprieve. Sennacherib would personally lead a second charge against Jerusalem—first sending a threatening letter (similar in tone to his field officer’s taunting). Hezekiah then prayed directly to the Lord for deliverance. When the Lord revealed this to Isaiah, he sent word to Hezekiah that Sennacherib would retreat and meet his fate).
Consequently, an angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Sennacherib scurried to his capital city of Nineveh and sought the favor of his pagan gods, only to be struck down by his two sons as he worshipped these lifeless idols.
Takeaway: It’s hard to trust what we cannot see. We prefer to lean on tangible constructs, whether our pension plans, allies, or government. But, ultimately, none of these points of security are a sure thing. If my grandparents were alive, they would tell us how their hard-earned means of welfare were stripped away due to a total collapse of the American financial system—leading to a decade of poverty and despair known as the Great Depression. Ultimately, our only means of security is in the Lord. And, sometimes, God will let our enemies taunt us (think 911) to remind us. Still, we worship a merciful God who is slow to anger and quick to forgive. So, like Hezekiah, when we misplace our trust in the things of this world, he will hear our heartfelt prayers of remorse and repentance and stretch out his strong arm of salvation.
Prayer: Father God, in your mercy, please expose those areas of our lives where we misplace our trust and lead us to repentance and restoration, that we might enjoy the peace and security of resting in your provision and protection. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling