Sennacherib king of Assyria stood outside the newly fortified walls of Jerusalem with his army, just waiting for his opportunity to take the city. His record of victories said that Jerusalem was sure to be taken; but King Hezekiah was looking at a different record—the record of the Lord God of Israel and His history of leading His people triumphantly out of impossible-looking situations.
According to II Corinthians 32:5, Hezekiah “made darts and shields in abundance”—certainly another team effort of the people. Paul bids us in Ephesians to take the “shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked”, as well as the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Faith and the word of God in abundance…these are essential pieces to the Christian’s armor.
Then Hezekiah set captains of war over the people. Faithful leaders are crucial for organization. Having the law of God and His entire Word to guide us, encircle us, protect us, we may find ourselves “likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.” Then our leaders, following in the steps of Jesus, will “let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but [will] in lowliness of mind…esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:2,3)
Hezekiah, trusting in the protection of God and His holy angels, then confidently gathered the people together and spoke words of comfort to them: “Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him.”
Can we claim those words in our efforts to share God’s love with the world? Certainly!
Hezekiah continued: “With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God to help us, and to fight our battles.”
Just as Satan will sit back and taunt us with claims of “No way—it’s too hard. You can’t possibly do any good”; so proud Sennacherib king of Assyria sent his men to taunt the people of Jerusalem. Sennacherib himself was so confident in his coming victory over Jerusalem that he did not even stand by; rather, he went off and fought against Lachish for a while.
Sennacherib sent messages to the people of Jerusalem in an all-out effort to discourage his prey. “What is the point of staying inside those walls? Don’t you think Hezekiah has convinced you to let yourselves die of thirst and starvation, telling you to trust in God to deliver you out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Don’t you know what we have done to the people of other lands? Were their gods in any way able to deliver them out of my hands? What god ever delivered anybody out of my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you out of my hand?”
As if they had not said enough already, they continued to add blasphemy to blasphemy, “and his servants spake yet more against the Lord God, and against his servant Hezekiah.” These men served Sennacherib; Hezekiah served God. Who do you serve? Is your god able to deliver you?
Sennacherib’s messengers continued, again and again comparing God to the gods of the heathen nations. “Your God is no different,” they claimed. And they even began to shout things up to the people of Jerusalem who were upon the wall of the city, using the language of the Jews. They hoped to instill in them a fear that would make them an even easier prey.
“And they spake against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth, which were the work of the hands of man.” Apparently they did not believe there was a difference between wood and metal and stone and the Living Creator God. That was soon to change!
So Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz “prayed and cried to heaven.” Isaiah 65:24 gives us this promise: “And it shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” God heard their prayers—just as He hears our prayers today. He sent an angel, which fought for Jerusalem and won the victory in one fell swoop.
In the words of the wise, “A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit;” and again, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 29:23; 16:18) So was the end of Sennacherib, mighty in the ways of the world, weak before the Almighty God. Sennacherib went home “with shame of face”, only to be slain by his own children.
Humbly confident Hezekiah, on the other hand, was honored by the people; and through his faith and obedience, God was magnified as the true God, the Lord God of Israel who delivers His people from the hand of the enemy.