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RCCG Miracle Land Dundalk
Wednesday, July 12 2023

Contributor: Isekhua Evborokhai

The Chapters 36 - 39 of the book of Isaiah is like an interruption to one’s regular programme on television by a late night breaking news. In these chapters, Isaiah interrupts his prophesies to bring news from the battle front. Chapter 36 records a historical account that can be likened to the first part of a 4 part movie. In Part 1, today’s study, we see the faith of the people of God being attacked. This was not simply a contest between two kings or two nations, but actually an epic showdown between arrogant humanity and the living God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Sovereign of the nations, the Holy One of Israel. And the question, as always, is: Can God be trusted? Is He strong enough, is He good enough, to deliver us? Will He be faithful to keep His promises? In today’s study we will see from this chapter how the enemy uses the power of intimidation and deceit to manipulate the world.

Verses 1-3: Jerusalem Threatened
“Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them. 2 And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field. 3 Then came forth unto him Eliakim, Hilkiah's son, which was over the house, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, Asaph's son, the recorder.”

King Sennacherib king of Assyria has come up against all the fortified cities of Judah and taken them. He’s just taken the city of Lachish, and Jerusalem now is left. So, he sends the “field commander” of his great army with an ultimatum for King Hezekiah.

If you recall in chapter 7, when Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, God told Ahaz to ask for a sign, but he refused to “put the Lord to the test.” (Isaiah 7:10-25) Why? Because in reality, he had chosen worldly wisdom over faith. Furthermore, Isaiah prophesied in Chapter 8: 7-8a:

“7 Therefore, behold, the Lord is bringing up against [you] the waters of the River, mighty and many, the king of Assyria and all his glory. And it will rise over all its channels and go over all its banks, 8 and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck”
And that’s exactly what happened in 701 BC—our text today. Because of his father’s unbelief, because God’s Word of judgment had proven true, King Hezekiah is now faced with essentially the same decision: Will he trust the Lord?

Verses 4-6: The Rabshakeh Speaks Against Judah’s Trust in Alliance With Egypt
4 Then the Rabshakeh said to them, “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: “What confidence is this in which you trust? 5 I say you speak of having plans and power for war; but they are mere words. Now in whom do you trust, that you rebel against me? 6 Look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.

a.What confidence is this in which you trust? One of the great battles for Hezekiah during this time was the temptation to make a defensive alliance with Egypt, which seemed to be the only nation strong enough to protect Judah against the mighty Assyrians. As a prophet, Isaiah did everything he could to discourage Hezekiah and the leaders of Judah from putting their trust in Egypt (Isaiah 19:11-17, 20:1-6, 30:1-7). The Lord wanted Judah to trust Him instead of Egypt.

So what Rabshakeh spoke in these verses, was the truth! God wanted Judah to have no confidence in Egypt at all. But Rabshakeh isn’t doing it to bring Judah to a firm trust in the LORD God, who can and will deliver them from the Assyrians. He does it to completely demoralize Judah and drive them to despair.
Satan attacks us the same way! Often, even when he tells the truth (“You are such a rotten sinner!”), he never does it to lead us to a firm trust in the Lord our God (“Jesus died for sinners, so if I am a rotten sinner, Jesus died to forgive and free me!”). Instead, Satan’s strategy – even if he tells us the truth – is always to demoralize us and drive us to despair.

b. You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt: Strangely, Rabshakeh could see the truth of Egypt’s weakness better than many of the leaders of Judah could. He refers to their alliance with Egypt as a broken reed that is not just a worthless one but that leaning on them for support and will cost Judah.

Verse 7: The Rabshakeh Speaks Against Judah’s Trust in God.
“But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God,’ is it not He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and said to Judah and Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar’?”

The devil seeks to deceive us: by twisting the truth, speaking lies that have a ring of truth to them and sound like something God has actually said! Even though Hezekiah did tear down the high places (which he was supposed to do), and though Assyria was a tool in God’s hand, this did not mean that God was against them!

Verses 8-9: The Rabshakeh Speaks Against The Army of Judah.
“8 Now therefore, I urge you, give a pledge to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses—if you are able on your part to put riders on them! 9 How then will you repel one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put your trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen?”

Although king Sennacherib had a vastly superior army and could have just attacked Jerusalem without this little speech, he would prefer it if Judah would simply give up, out of fear, discouragement, or despair. The Assyrians were masters of intimidation and cities usually just surrender without a fight. The devil uses the exact same approach. Many of us picture him as always “itching for a fight” with us. Really, he doesn’t want to do battle with us. First of all, there is the strong chance you will win. Second of all, win or lose, the battle can draw you closer to God. Thirdly, what the LORD does in your life through the battle can be a great blessing for other people. So he would much rather not fight but rather, talk you into giving up or have you distracted from fulfilling your purpose in life.
(In Luke 4:5-8, we see him attempting to distract Jesus with his temptations.) He also attempt to frighten us, deceive us or bully us into surrendering. 1 Peter 5:8 says he prowls like a roaring lion. But James 4:7 tells us that if we submit to God and resist him, he will flee!

Verse 10: The Rabshakeh Claims God is on His Side.
“Have I now come up without the Lord against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it.’ ”

In this verse, he goes for the jugular; in other words, “Admit it, Hezekiah. You know that your God is on my side.” And like all good deception, it would have been easy for Hezekiah and his men to believe this one. After all, hadn’t the Assyrians been wildly successful? Surely, God must be on their side. Didn’t they have the most powerful army? Surely, God must be on their side. Then he moves in with a finishing blow: “The LORD said to me, “Go up against this land, and destroy it”. “Hezekiah, God told me to destroy you. I’m just doing His will, and there is nothing you can do to stop it, so you may as well surrender.”

Verses 11-20: The Rabshakeh Sows the Seed of Doubt in the Hearts of the People
11 Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Rabshakeh, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 12 But the Rabshakeh said, “Has my master sent me to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, who will eat and drink their own waste with you?” 13 Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out with a loud voice in Hebrew, and said, “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14 Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you; 15 nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” ’ 16 Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; 17 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand? 20 Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’ ”

It was a difficult situation for the leaders in Hezekiah’s government. It was bad enough that they had to hear these words themselves, but because he was speaking in Hebrew, everyone could hear, become discouraged and possibly ask the king to surrender so they appealed for him to speak in Aramaic

But the Rabshakeh would not have it. The more fear, discouragement, and despair he can spread, the better. He pointed forward to what conditions would be like in Jerusalem after an extended siege (that people will eat and drink their own waste). He wanted this to disgust everyone who heard it, and he wanted to magnify the sense of fear, discouragement, and despair.

And then, in verse 16, Sennacherib’s devilish ultimatum was given by the Rabshakeh: “Thus says the king of Assyria: Make your peace with me.” “Don’t trust the Lord. Don’t listen to Hezekiah. Trust me. If you don’t, we’ll besiege your city and cause you unimaginable pain and suffering. You will perish unless you follow me. But in reality, the Lord was not against His covenant people. He had not deceived them. Rather, He had brought them to the end of their resources so that Judah might depend upon her God in wholehearted trust. The Rabshakeh’s speech was going on well until he overstepped in verse 20. “Who among all the gods of these lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?’ ”

The gods of other nations have not been able to protect them against us. Your God is just like one of them and can’t protect you either. It is one thing to speak against Judah, its people and leaders. It was another thing altogether to mock the Lord God of Israel this way and count Him as “just another god.” And just like the officer in 2 Kings 7:2 who ran his mouth challenging Elisha and consequently, the Almighty God by saying: “That couldn’t happen even if the LORD opened the windows of heaven!”
There was no way God would let him off the hook for this one. He has offended the Lord God in a way he will soon regret. He just kicked against the pricks, Acts 9:5, Exodus 14:14 says the Lord will fight for us and we will hold our peace.

Verses 21-22: CONCLUSION
“But they held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.” 22 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.”

Hezekiah had instructed the leaders not to argue with the Rabshakeh but to give him the silent treatment. King Hezekiah was wise enough to make this command, and his officials and the people were wise enough to obey him. It is often useless – if not dangerous – to try and match wits with demonic logic. It is much better to keep silent and trust God, instead of trying to win an argument. We can never win the battle with the enemy in the place of reason but the place of faith.
No matter how relentless the schemes of the devil are, no matter how hopeless the situation may seem, and no matter how undeserving we are, the Lord is a mighty and gracious King. So we must be still in God’s presence. In Deuteronomy 32:35 God tells us that vengeance is His. Exodus 14:14 says: “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest.”
The chorus of the song “Stand Still” by Deitrick Haddon says:
“Stand still and know that He is God
There's no need to fight
For the battle is not yours
The battle is the Lord's”

Parts of this study was culled from

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