Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hezekiah's Enemy

"And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD. And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left." (Isaiah 37:1-4)

Hezekiah's response is exemplary. When faced with an impossible situation, he humbled himself and took the need to God. Sending the elders of the priests demonstrated the appropriate involvement and concern of the spiritual leadership. This was not a task solely for Hezekiah's own officers.

The king likens Jerusalem's situation to a birth-ready child which cannot progress beyond the cervical opening. Judah's attempts to deliver herself from the enemy were as successful as an unfinished birth. To fail just inches from the finish line is still to fail. Hezekiah had learned much. His choice to reject Isaiah's anti-Egyptian counsel had proven a serious mistake. The compromise of the temple's treasures, and the delivery of his own family into the hand's of the Assyrians had proven a useless waste. Now was the time for complete dependence upon the mercies of God. The Lord would need to intervene. The king and his people were as that unborn child. If they could not escape the "womb" of their predicament, it would forever be their grave.

"So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his 
own land." (Isaiah 37:5-7)

In keeping with His infinite mercy, the Lord sends encouraging words to the king and his people. "He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him (103:10-11)."

God commanded the people not to fear. Sennacherib's quarrel was not with them but with the Almighty. God does not need any man to mediate for Him. To blaspheme means to revile. The Assyrians had reviled and despised their Creator. Because of this, God promised to send an evil blast upon them. The word behind blast is spirit, breath or wind. God's Spirit would move among the army inciting death and terror from which they would never recover. As the Lord had already promised, Sennacherib and his army would die.

For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it (Isaiah 30:33)

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