When Your Back’s Against the Wall

I have been reading Isaiah and doing some studying of the book.  In chapter thirty six, Sennacherib of Assyria threatens Jerusalem with the overthrow of government, siege, and deportation.  He says some pretty disturbing things, and had the army and political power to make them happen. Sennacherib says, via messenger,

“This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours? 5 You say you have counsel and might for war—but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me? 6 Look, I know you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces the hand of anyone who leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him. 7 But if you say to me, “We are depending on the LORD our God”—isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before this altar”? (Is. 36:5-7, NIV).

He then goes on to say, The messenger later says, that Israel will “eat their own excrement and drink their own urine” because the siege and attack will be so horribly devastating (37:12)..

Now, that would be all well and pretty standard warfare chat if he’d stopped there…but then Sennacherib blasphemes against God Himself, saying,

“Do not let Hezekiah mislead you when he says, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’ Have the gods of any nations ever delivered their lands from the hand of the king of Assyria? 19Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? 20 Who of all the gods of these countries have been able to save their lands from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?” (37:18-20).

At this King Hezekiah enters a state of mourning and pretty much throws Himself at the feet of Isaiah, God’s man on the scene.  God speaks to them through Isaiah and says this:

“Tell your master, [Hezekiah] ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not be afraid of what you have heard—those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Listen! When he [Sennacherib] hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.’” (37:6-7)

So they return to Hezekiah and tell him what God has said. After they receive another demeaning letter from Sennacherib, Hezekiah takes the letter and goes to the Temple.  He spreads it out before God and prays (37:16-20).  Hezekiah knew that he couldn’t withstand a direct siege and assault from one of the most powerful armies in the world.  He was a desperate man.  He had no military options, no bargaining tools, no politicians to be heard…so he did what came naturally:  He went to God.  He depended on God.  He took refuge in God.

God heard his prayer and sent a message through Isaiah foretelling of the deliverance of Israel from Sennacherib.  He did it because of His faithfulness to the Covenant of Abraham and David and would save a remnant of Israel, despite their crazy idolatry. So the text tells us that God not only does it, but He terrifies the brutal military commander Sennacherib in a spectacular and miraculous way:

Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.38 One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king” (Is. 3736-38).

Do you feel like your back is against the wall like Hezekiah?  Is there a situation in your life that has you at the end of your rope?  Have you sought God’s help?  If not, do that right now!  God is faitful and defends His children with an unparalleled tenacity. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

the sight of the Lord…and He will lift you up.

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