1 TIMOTHY 3:16-17

"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us...God uses it to prepare and equip His people to do every good work."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

ISAIAH - Empty Words

How the mighty have fallen.

That phrase came to my mind when I read the Scripture for today's "Bible Pick 'Ems." It is an excerpt from the account of a confrontation between King Hezekiah of Judah and Sennacherib, the fearful leader of the Assyrian people, as told by the prophet Isaiah.

I thought it might be interesting today to do a sort of *play-by-play* of this confrontation.

Let's start with a little history lesson:

"Sennacherib (pronounced Sin-ahhe-criba) was an Assyrian ruler in Mesopotamia who reigned from 704-681 BC. He is known in history for the destruction of Babylon in 689 BC and for his siege on Jerusalem that was under the Hebrew King, Hezekiah in 701 BC (see II Kings 18:13). He spent a good portion of his leadership protecting what his predecessors and namely his father, Sargon, II had established.
 Sennacherib became the first Assyrian ruler to rebuild Nineveh and make it his capital city…We get a lot of information on his conquests from the discovery of what is known as Sennacherib's Prism, a six-sided clay cylinder-like document which contains the story of his conquests. A Colonel R. Taylor during a mid-19th-century archeological study discovered it in the ruins of Nineveh. The prism is now on display at the British Museum." (from www.sennacherib.net)

Here's an interesting excerpt from that prism – Sennacherib's account of his initial invasion into Judah:

"Because Hezekiah, king of Judah, would not submit to my yoke, I came up against him, and by force of arms and by the might of my power I took 46 of his strong fenced cities; and of the smaller towns which were scattered about, I took and plundered a countless number… Then upon Hezekiah there fell the fear of the power of my arms…"

Interesting, isn't it, how his arrogant tone still carries all these centuries later?

The Biblical account of Sennacherib's siege details Sennacherib's attack on Judah and its capital city, Jerusalem. Hezekiah had rebelled against the Assyrians, so they had captured all of the towns in Judah. Hezekiah, realizing his error, sent great tribute to Sennacherib. But the Assyrians were not deterred – they marched toward Jerusalem anyway.Sennacherib sent his supreme commander with an army to besiege Jerusalem. The supreme commander met with Hezekiah's officials and threatened them to surrender,while hailing insults so the people of the city could hear, blaspheming Judah and particularly Jehovah.

"This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don't let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria…They have completely destroyed anyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different?" (Isaiah 37:10-11)

Dripping with sarcasm and pride, isn't it?

When King Hezekiah heard of this, he tore his clothes (as was the custom of the day for displaying deep anguish) and prayed to Jehovah in the Temple.

"After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord's Temple and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed…'Bend down, O LORD, and listen! Open your eyes, O LORD, and see! Listen to Sennacherib's words of defiance against the living God…Now, O LORD our God, rescue us from his power…'" (Isaiah 37:14-15, 17, 20)

I love that the very first thing King Hezekiah did was to turn toward the Lord. He laid out his problem before the Lord all the frightening and daunting details – and then he prayed. He prayed his heart – he prayed his heart out.

Isaiah the prophet told the king that Jehovah would take care of the whole matter and that he would return to his own lands.

"Because you prayed about King Sennacherib of Assyria, the LORD has spoken this word against him…'Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice? At whom did you look with such haughty eyes? It was the Holy One of Israel!'" (Isaiah 37:21-23)

YAY! God is coming to the rescue.

That night, the angel of Jehovah killed 185,000 Assyrian troops. (Jewish tradition maintains that the angel Gabriel was the angel sent to destroy the Assyrian troops, and that the destruction occurred on Passover night). Sennacherib soon returned to Nineveh in disgrace.

The Bible says it this way: "Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home…and stayed there." (Isaiah 37:37)

If you really try to put yourself into this story – if you really try to picture all the characters and actionit's incredibly exciting! It's scary as the enemy troops threaten. It's humbling as the enemy king pompously struts about, bragging about all his power. It's inspiringas King Hezekiah turns to the only source of his sure hope, God. It's thrilling as God rides in on a "white horse" of rescue, and saves His people!

On a personal level, our story is no less different.

We face a powerful enemy, who takes great delight in threatening us, taunting us. He postures his mighty armies against us. He details his great victories, and brags about previous conquests. He is pompous, and proud, and mocking…

"Don't let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that I will not defeat you. I have completely destroyed anyone who stood in my way! Why should you be any different?"

Where can we turn? To God – where else? ("Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life." John 6:68)

We must "lay it all out" before Him. Every detail of our hopes and fears, our confusion and weakness, our total inability to fight any battle in our own strength.

We must let God be the One to answer our enemy. And He will. For it is God that the devil is defying. When he attacks God's children, he is really coming up against God Himself.

"Whom have you been defying and ridiculing? Against whom did you raise your voice?"

Those words just give me holy goosebumps!

Yes, the Lord will send the enemy skulking away, with his "tail between his legs." You see, though there will be many battles against the devil – he has lost the war. The cross took care of all of that.

And one day, because of that cross – and because of a certain empty tomb – we are promised this tremendous Truth about our nefarious adversary:

"He went home…and stayed there."

There is an eternal punishment awaiting him. We can be sure of that.

And in the meantime, all of his words are empty. They are just the blustering rant of an arrogant, but defeated, enemy. Just posturing, prideful "Sennacherib words"…

For the LORD has spoken:

"'…I know you well – where you stay and when you come and go. I know the way you have raged against me. And because of your raging against me and your arrogance, which I have heard for myself, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth…The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!'" (Isaiah 37:28-29, 32)

God to the rescue! YAY!

Are you turning a deaf ear to the "Sennacherib words" of our enemy, and claiming the victory won by the LORD of Heaven's Armies?

(I'm linked today with Charlotte at Spiritual Sundays, and Peggy at Soaking On SONday. And please feel free to visit me during the week at my other blog, Sharon Sharing God!)

"When in doubt, search God out!"


  1. Blessings Sharon,

    WOW... a lot of hard, in depth research on this one and in my total amazement and finding parts interesting, you lost me at the history.

    Now, it's not that you did not break it down very well and the same with the details that follow, but you know I'm always truthful... I had to go back and reread and reread (now it's probably just me) but I couldn't even get through to the YAY (yeah) GOD TO THE RESCUE!
    The good part that was the applicable part below I eluded me. However, I did agree that he was arrogant and full of pride (is that the same as conceit?)... so I scuttled over to see the responses on your other blog... and looked for MTJ... cause I figured he'd have a good grasp of it. NAY...

    So I'm back on my own and skipping the first part... hoping I can glean as much as you have from this... (you see why I don't do OT that well... oh, dread is me my upcoming study will be a flop...). And no, I did not turn a deaf ear. So let's pick this up at King Hezekiah's prayer in response...

    1) you are so right. How often many of us do not turn to God first in a crisis as he did
    2) great points as you put ourselves into this story... TA DA... God to the Rescue!
    3) your comparison to our enemy is why I kept going back because I sensed that as I first read it but you definitely nailed this one...SUPERBLY

    Of course, we should turn to God... but how often do we when we sense the impending onslaught or this first blow to our head, body, heart or mind. I must admit that I cry out to God now much more in advance or after I fail than when I need Him to see me through it.

    Then the excellent advice comes... after you share NT John! This was the key point for me:
    We must let God be the One to answer our enemy. And He will. For it is God that the devil is defying. When he attacks God's children, he is really coming up against God Himself.

    But I use to tell myself that in the battle and I still did not walk and confront any better, I needed to submit to God's authority much sooner so He could do the "tah dah" rescue! The best part is we know the enemy has lost but many times I feel as if I'm going down for the count.

    I love the strength and conviction from which you write. I needed to hear that this taunting, or whatever words of the enemy are EMPTY! But to whom is the LORD speaking those words in Isaiah 37?

    I will turn a deaf ear and try to remember it is not the person but the enemy that speaks forth this to me in defiance to God and I will claim the victory and so grateful that I can that was won by my Lord at Calvary... and as for the Heavenly Armies... I rely constantly on them to
    fight in the heavenlies and all around me as we march on in the Name of the lord and the power of His Spirit... another difficult one for me!

    But you got this stuff well examined and may God continue to reveal such great lessons through your Bible Pick 'ems. Are you sure you weren't a History major besides English and with a strong emphasis on Biblical Archaeological/History and war strategies!!! WOW! A+

    I think I have battle fatigue but am in awe at your strength and gift. Think I better go read Isaiah... and ask for Holy Spirit power and revelation. Glad all the rest visit you at your other blog!

    Love and hugs,

  2. Ohhh and briefly... I really like how THIS BIBLE Pick'ems lines up so well with Christy Nockel's song that I chose for today (long ago in my sequence of MIGHTY for this month)... a Mighty Fortress!

    Because it's another example of Godincidences... and HE IS OUR MIGHTY FORTRESS and even Sennacherib found this out as King Hezekiah knew when He bowed before God, HIS MIGHTY FORTRESS!

  3. I guess this page is just for me!!!

    It's OK "I have a thankful heart" today!

    Sharing a group from my past today. Just curious if you know them and who came here and wrote what in reply to this? I'll just go to your other blog and see!

    I'm trying out IE today instead of Google Chrome
    (ahhhhhh) and you appeared first as "very active" for sites I visit most!!! WOO HOO!
    or Ya hoo! Have a great week! One day at a time.

    ohh and since this is my priavte page with you (lol)and I liberally write here, I need your opinion on having an INVITED READER ONLY blog.
    I asked Blogger for the advantages and disadvantages for no response yet. Of course, I have my main blog as OPEN but considering this.
    Let me know before I launch... (lol)

  4. I love it when modern archeology finds wonderful things like this and I love that God always wins the victory. Thank you for sharing this interesting account.

  5. You have a great gift of making the stories in the Old Testament seem more real. Bless you.

  6. Hi Sharon,
    Great post and excellent reminder. I must always remember to first turn to God and not believe all the junk I hear when things look like I am defeated.

    I wish you and your family a happy Thanksgiving.

  7. And to think... some day after I've gone home to Jesus, someone may "find" my words in a clay jar somewhere (more likely on-line), and there will be a written history of my boasts from this season.

    May they echo with the boast of Jesus Christ and his faithfulness to me!



"So I have been greatly encouraged in the midst of my troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives me new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How I thank God for you!"
(1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!