Sennacherib Boasts Against The Lord

When I was in college, most of the time I took as many classes, as many credit hours as they would let me take. I wanted to get through with school as soon as possible because I wanted to get on with life. My mother used to tell me, “your college years are part of life,&rdq … More

Preparation

In an attempt to deter Sennacherib, Hezekiah paid tribute, but this did not seem to sway the Assyrian’s determination. Instead Sennacherib sent three officers with a large force to Jerusalem (v. 17) to demand complete surrender. At first they presented their demands only to Hezekiah’s representatives (vv. 17-27) but eventually to all of the people of Jerusalem (vv. 28-37).

Sennacherib’s field commander, Rabshakeh was the spokesman for the Assyrian king. His objective was to intimidate Hezekiah into surrendering and frighten and demoralize the general population. He told them that they could not depend on Egypt helping them because they were too weak.  Furthermore he said that their God would not help them because Hezekiah had destroyed all the altars of worship (high places). Rabshakeh made sure all of the people gathered around to hear what he was saying. He also said that refusal to surrender would result in a terrible famine. 

The commander told them that the Assyrians would transport the people to other cities. He assured them that they would be sent to a land like their own where they would have plenty of their favorite foods and drink. It was a call to choose surrender and life rather than resistance and certain death. The people remained silent and gave the Assyrians no answer as Hezekiah had instructed them to do.  Hezekiah’s three representatives returned to the king and told him all that had been said.

Application

Hezekiah displayed great wisdom in responding to present problems but shows little evidence of preparing for the future. As a Christian I need to remember that part of the blessing of my past can only be measured by how well I use it to prepare for the future.

II Kings 18:17-37 (English Standard Version)

And the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rab-saris, and the Rabshakeh with a great army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they arrived, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is on the highway to the Washer's Field. And when they called for the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder. 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? Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me? Behold, you are trusting now in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. But if you say to me, "We trust in the LORD our God," is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, "You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem"? Come now, make a wager with my master the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them. How then can you repulse a single captain among the least of my master's servants, when you trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? Moreover, is it without the LORD that I have come up against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.'" Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah, and Joah, said to the Rabshakeh, "Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it. Do not speak to us in the language of Judah within the hearing of the people who are on the wall." But the Rabshakeh said to them, "Has my master sent me to speak these words to your master and to you, and not to the men sitting on the wall, who are doomed with you to eat their own dung and to drink their own urine?" Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: "Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! Thus says the king: 'Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.' Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: 'Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, The LORD will deliver us. Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?'" But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king's command was, "Do not answer him." Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.

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