Isaiah 36

Isaiah 36 begins a four chapter detour from what Isaiah has been writing about and takes us into a history lesson that describe the Lord’s work against the Assyrian threat in chapters 36-37, and then in Isaiah 38 and 39 describe the response to the Babylonian threat.  He tells us the story of what the attackers were doing and thinking and also the concern of the Israelites under their godly king Hezekiah.  “In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them”.

The Assyrian army has conquered the both Syria and northern kingdom of Israel, and has devastated the countryside and the fortified cities of Judah. All that remains is Jerusalem, and if the Assyrians conquer that stronghold, then Judah is destroyed as a nation just as Syria and Israel were. These were the desperate times of King Hezekiah! The Assyrians have moved their army outside the city of Jerusalem, and they call for a meeting with Hezekiah.  “the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with a great army”.

Hezekiah send out three of his key leaders – Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah.  The Rebshakeh (which describes a position – the field commander of the Assyrian Army) asks them pointed questions: “On what do you rest this trust of yours? Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me”?  Hezekiah hasn’t surrendered and the enemy can’t understand what they were trusting to protect them from the obvious coming fall.  His plan was to demoralize and make them give up.  Egypt had been an earlier ally, but they were no longer a power.

The Assyrian field commander heckles the people of Jerusalem shouting out “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria”.  That’s certainly what it looked like on the surface, but then again, he does not know the God of Israel and Judah. The three leaders from Jerusalem “were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, Do not answer him”.  Hezekiah knew what the tactics would be and had prepared his team well.  They return to him with the message from the enemy – bleak as it was.

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