Chapters 36 through 39 place hope within the reality of a crisis. In 701 B.C., the armies of Assyrian King Sennacherib laid siege to Jerusalem to exact tribute (36:1-2). His chief officer confronted Judah with half-truths and twisted facts. His first “fact” is that there is no outside help available for Judah, especially from Egypt (36:3-6). Second, Judah is no match for even the lowest ranking Assyrian official (36:7-9). Third, Assyria is only carrying out God’s instructions (36:10). Judah’s failure to submit means disgusting consequences (36:11-12). Fourth, he promises peace and claims a record of success (36:13-20). Nevertheless, the people decide to trust their king who trusts the Lord (36:21-22).
Hezekiah shows faith by resorting to the presence of God and enlisting the prayers of Isaiah (37:1-2). He believed intercession by God’s prophet was crucial (37:3-5). The Assyrians sought to demoralize Jerusalem, yet they themselves will be unnerved by rumor. Instead of Sennacherib falling on Jerusalem with his sword, his own life later will fall to the sword of his sons (37:6-7). His insults and threats continue (37:8-13).
Hezekiah’s prayer is detailed and thoughtful (37:14-20). God is the omnipotent master of the universe. He is sovereign over all kingdoms because He is the Creator of heaven and earth. In all her aggression Assyria had one clear intention - to reproach God (37:17). Assyria showed no respect for her conquests and intended to treat Yahweh with the same disdain (37:18-19). Hezekiah believes Yahweh alone can deliver on His promises (37:20).
God honors this trust (37:21). Through Sennacherib’s insolent reliance on military power, he insulted God personally (37:22-25). In contrast, long before Assyria rose to power God designed to use them as His instrument of judgment (37:26). Thus, Assyria had not served her purposes but God’s (37:27). Failure to recognize God’s sovereignty revealed their arrogance at work, so God would bring them to account at exactly that point. He would send them back in humility whence they came (37:28-29).
Normal life could then resume in Judah (37:30). The surviving remnant will flourish because of the power of the Lord (37:31-32). Indeed, the only return the Assyrians will see is their return home (37:33-34). Thus, the Lord preserves His honor (37:35).
The outcome? The “angel of the Lord” refers to the Lord Himself (37:36). He crushes Sennacherib’s army (37:37). Humiliation of Assyria’s pride is complete, just as the Lord promised (37:38).
Dr. David Moore is a Baptist preacher in Pampa and an online instructor in Bible and theology for Taylor University and Nations University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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