God Sends the Assyrian Army Home
JUNE 23 - Nº 174 2 Kings 18:13 – 19:8; 2 Chronicles 32:1-8; Isaiah 36:1 – 37:8
The Assyrian army had already captured the northern kingdom of Israel and scattered its people all over the Assyrian empire (see #172 - Israel is Scattered by Assyria). They had renamed their newly acquired territory Samaria and repopulated it with foreigners. Now, with a new king named Sennacherib, the Assyrians set their sights on defeating the southern kingdom of Judah. Their strong army captured all of the fortified cities along its border. King Hezekiah of Judah wasn’t sure what to do about the huge invading army. He offered King Sennacherib money to withdraw his troops. The amount of gold and silver that the Assyrian king demanded was so high that Hezekiah had to strip the gold off the doors and doorposts of the temple and add it to everything that was in the Temple and palace treasuries. Meanwhile he worked hard to fortify the walls of Jerusalem. However, this did not solve Judah’s problems. Soon Sennacherib invaded again. He sent a large army to Jerusalem. When they arrived, the Assyrian commander called for a meeting with the Jewish officials outside the city walls. “Why won’t you surrender and become our slaves?” the commander yelled. “Do you think other nations like Egypt are going to help you? They won’t come—they’re too afraid of us! And how can you trust your God when He was the one who sent us here to destroy you?” Since the commander was talking in a very loud voice, the people of Jerusalem who had lined up on top of the walls could hear everything. And since the commander was speaking in Hebrew, they could understand it, too! The Jewish officials said, “Please speak in Aramaic. We will understand it, but the people won’t.” The Assyrian commander laughed and yelled even louder, “No! This message is not just for your king. It’s for everyone. These people are the ones who will suffer when we crush you!” He pointed to the men on the wall, taunting them and yelling, “Listen to me! Don’t trust your king or your God. Trust Sennacherib, the great king of Assyria! If you will make peace with him, he will take care of you. No gods have been able to rescue their people from him!” The people on the walls did not respond, because Hezekiah had asked them not to. When King Hezekiah heard the report of everything the Assyrians had said, he ripped his clothes and went to the Temple to cry out to God. He sent messengers to the prophet Isaiah and asked him to pray, too. Isaiah sent a message back to King Hezekiah, “This is what God says, ‘Don’t be afraid of what this man has said. He has blasphemed Me. I will send a report to him that will make him leave and rush back to his country. Once he gets there, someone will kill him.’” The commander of the Assyrian army suddenly received a message that there was trouble back in Assyria. He left Jerusalem immediately to help his king fight another battle—and he took his whole army with him!
When King Hezekiah tried to solve the nation’s problems by himself, he ended up losing a lot of money and damaging the Temple. But when he cried out to God, God intervened and provided a solution. Have you learned to talk to God first—before you try to fix things with your own wisdom or strength? He loves to help us.