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2 KINGS 18:9-19:37
Series:  Hezekiah:  2 Kings 18-20 - Part Two

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
August 23, 2009

This morning we’re going on in our look at the life of King Hezekiah.  If you would - please turn with me to 2 Kings 19 - starting at verse 35.  We’re going to start at the end. 

Have you seen this?  Thank you for visiting the end of the internet.  There are no more links.  You must now turn off your computer and go do something productive.  Go read a book, for Pete’s sake.

Sometimes it helps to know that things have an end - to keep the end in sight.  Somehow that gives hope.

2 Kings 19 - starting - or ending - depending on your perspective - verse 35: 
Then it happened that night that the angel of the Lord - who?  The angel of the Lord - went out and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians; and when men rose early in the morning - those that weren’t dead - behold, all of them were dead - the guys who didn’t get up in the morning.

Can you imagine waking up and finding yourself surrounded by 185,000 corpses?  What kind of deadpan joke would fit?  Those 185,000 dead men represent the bulk of the Assyrian army. 

Verse 36: 
So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed - a wise strategic move seeing as God had just wiped out his army - so Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home, and lived in Nineveh - Nineveh being the capital of Assyria - present day Mosul in northern Iraq.

Verse 37: 
It came about as he - Sennacherib, king of Assyria - was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer - two of Sennacherib’s sons - that Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat - dare I say it?  to Armenia.  Its right there in the Hebrew.  and Esarhaddon his son became king in his place.

Okay - turn back with me to 2 Kings 18 - starting at verse 19.  As we go through this account keep the end in sight.  What are we keeping in sight? 
“The end.”  Remember how all of this ends up.  God takes out Sennacherib and his army. 

Last Sunday we talked about King Ahaz who had led the nation of Judah down the tubes spiritually - morally - politically.  Under Ahaz the government has bankrupted the nation.  Judah’s a puppet state under the Assyrians - helpless and controlled by her enemies.  Israel - Judah’s sister kingdom to the north - Israel has been hauled off into exile in Assyria - an act of God’s judgment on their sin.  Judah’s next.  The only expectation that people have is that things are going to get worse.  Remember this?

We were introduced to Hezekiah - Ahaz’s son.  We saw Hezekiah step in - after Ahaz’s death - saw Hezekiah step in and clean up - removed everything that was evil in Judah - even the high places of worship - up on the hills - high places that were dedicated to the worship of pagan gods.  It was a huge 180
° change of direction for the nation.  Hezekiah trusted God - clung to God - acted with Godly wisdom.  Did what pleased God.  Hezekiah followed God. 

Hold on to that:  Hezekiah followed God

Part of that following God - Hezekiah led a revolt against Assyria.  Hezekiah said,
“We don’t need you.  We’re going to trust God.  So please leave us alone.” 

Which, of course, ticked off the king of Assyria - Sennacherib - remember him?  What are we keeping in mind?  The end.

Sennacherib - launches this military campaign against Hezekiah - invades Judah - captures 46 fortified cities - a bunch of forts and smaller towns - hauls 200,000 plus Judeans into captivity - and finally lays siege to Hezekiah in Jerusalem.

Then Sennacherib moves on to attack the Philistines.  But he leaves at Jerusalem - a sizable intimidating army - and sends in his negotiating team to dictate terms of surrender.  3 high ranking officials:  Tartan - Rab-Saris - and Rab-Shakeh.  Hezekiah sends out his negotiating team - also high ranking officials:  Eliakim - Shebnah - and Joah.

Two teams of negotiators - meeting outside Jerusalem under a flag of truce - ironically on the same spot that Isaiah warned King Ahaz not to trust the Assyrians.

2 Kings 18 - verse 19 -
The Negotiation:  Then Rab-Shakeh said to them - Hezekiah’s negotiators - “Say now to Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, “What is this confidence you that you have?  You say (but they are only empty words) - you have nothing to back them up with - ‘I have counsel and strength for war.’ Now on whom do you rely, that you have rebelled against me?  Now behold, you rely on the staff of this crushed reed, even on Egypt; on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it.  So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who rely on him.

If you’re relying on Egypt for help - what is Egypt compared to Assyria?  Relying on Egypt is going to come back and bite you.

Verse 22: 
But if you say to me, ‘We trust in the Lord our God,’ - our confidence is in our God - if you think trusting in your God is the way to go - think about this - is it not He - your God - whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem’?

Hezekiah’s insistence on one God being worshiped at one altar in one place - the Temple in Jerusalem - created opposition from people who still wanted to worship Baal in the high places.  Why appeal to one God when you could ask for help from a lot of gods.  If anything Hezekiah’s ticked off all the gods - none of whom can we count on for help.

Verse 23: 
Now therefore, come, make a bargain with my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them.  How then can you repulse on official of the least of my master’s servants, and rely on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?

We’ve got so many horses we can spare a couple thousand and not even miss them.  But - even if we did - too bad - you don’t have enough men.

Verse 25:  Have I not come without the Lord’s approval against this place to destroy it?  The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against his land and destroy it.’”’”

The Assyrians had heard of the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah - in which God had said that He - God - because of His people’s sin - God was going to use the Assyrians as an instrument of judgment on His people.  Which was already being done with Israel being hauled off into captivity.

Verse 26: 
Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebnah and Joah - Hezekiah’s negotiating team - said to Rab-Shakeh, “Speak now to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak with us in Judean in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.”

Aramaic was the international political language of the day - like English is today - or French was a few years ago.  A language spoken by educated people.

Verse 27: 
But Rab-Shakeh said to them - Hezekiah’s negotiators - “Has my master sent me only to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, doomed to eat their own dung and drink their own urine with you?”  Rab-Shakeh was probably a whole lot more graphic in the words he used - dung and urine.

Pulling this together - in just a few short words - the Assyrians speaking in Judean - speaking not just to the negotiators - but to the masses - the Assyrians have called into question Hezekiah’s political skills - his spiritual leadership - their trust in God - insinuated that they’d be going against God’s will to resist.

Words - some true - some not - some someplace in between.  The best lies is the one what?  Closest to the truth.  Propaganda - humiliating and demoralizing words that were aimed at wearing down the people - provoking doubt - striking terror in the hearts of the people - fear.  We’re toast unless we surrender.

We need to pause here and grab on to what this would have been like for God’s people - under siege in Jerusalem.

The entire Assyrian political - cultural - spiritual - economic structure was focused on waging war.  Every spring - in Nineveh - the capital - they had this huge celebration.  The king rode out at the head of the army - a massive military procession.  Remember those May Day parades in the Soviet Union?  It was like that.  A massive military procession.  As they rode through Assyria - off to the conquering fields - men joined them.  The army swelled to hundreds of thousands of soldiers - organized - trained - disciplined.

The Assyrians were the great innovators of warfare.  They were the first to used camels.  They were the first to use iron - the strongest metal of the time - they used iron in spears, swords, shields, armor, arrows.  They tipped their battering rams in iron for extra effectiveness.  When the Assyrians first used these weapons it was like going from throwing rocks to dropping A bombs.  The best weapons of their enemies were useless.

They had heavy armored chariots - like tanks - some drawn by four horses - that had a crew of three - a driver - an archer - and a guy to cover the rear.  They introduced cavalry - two riders per horse - one to drive the horse - the other used a bow or lance.  They used armor protected hand propelled vehicles.

The army had special technical units - that could build pontoon bridges or cut roads through mountains.  Nothing stopped these guys.

In battle they were undefeated.  Their record was something like 1,000 to 0.  They had just mowed down everyone in their path - a great unstoppable military juggernaut. 

The Assyrians were ruthless.  Their conquest of a town made Borg assimilation look like a Sunday School picnic.  If you were smart and opened your gates - if you surrendered - the least they might do to you was to make you into slaves or relocate you into Assyrian territory.  That was if you surrendered.

If you refused to surrender they’d bring in their battering rams - an iron tipped enclosed machine - impervious to attack - defended by archers - mounted on wheels - locked into place - swung relentlessly against the gate.

When they eventually got in - which they always did - they made an example of you.  Civic leaders were flayed alive - their skins hung on poles.  The lucky ones were just hung on poles - often impaled - alive.  People were beheaded - roasted - dismembered - alive.  The whole goal was to strike terror in the hearts of their next victims.  There is no hope.  We are your destiny.

Point being:  Surrounding Jerusalem was a massive - disciplined - focused - ruthless - feared - undefeated army - that had already mowed down everyone else in Judah.  Out on the field - is your negotiating team - and the Assyrians - who have just reminded you that resistance is futile - if not very unwise.  How confident do you feel?

What are we keeping in sight?  The end.  Seems distant.  Doesn’t it?

Verse 28: 
Then Rab-Shakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in Judean, saying, “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria.  Thus says the king, ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you from my hand; nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, “The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.  Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria, make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern - which is a whole lot better than dung and urine - until I come and take you away to a land like your own land - which of course it really isn’t actually your land - but - it is - a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live and not die.”  But do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you, saying, “The Lord will deliver us.” 

Verse 33 - notice how he goes after God -
Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?  Rhetorical question - answer - not one.  Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad?  Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? - places we've already mowed down - Have they delivered Samaria from my hand?  Answer - “No.”  Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their land from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?

“If all those gods couldn’t save their people from getting mowed down - what makes you think your God can?” 
What arrogance against the living God.     

2 Chronicles 32 - says this - bottom line: 
They called this out with a loud voice in the language of Judah to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten and terrify them, so that they might take the city.  They spoke of the God of Jerusalem as of the gods of the peoples of the earth, the work of men’s hands.  (2 Chronicles 32:18,19)

Have you ever been under siege

Maybe you’re under siege today?  Up against what seems immovable - insurmountable - irresistible - unstoppable? 

Maybe its past failure or sin?  Maybe a marriage that just isn’t working - or maybe its coming apart?  Maybe you’re locked up in ongoing conflict?  Or, disappointment?  Illness?  Stuff at work - or school - at home?  While you’re trying to live for God.  Satan’s coming after you with everything he’s got.  It may not be the Assyrian army.  But it might as well be.

Do you ever say to yourself,
“But I’m just trying to follow God.  To do what God wants.  How did I get here?  How could this be going on?  Maybe I made a mistake.”  That’s all Hezekiah wanted to do - follow God.

When you're under siege who do you listen to

Satan would rather have us listen to his voice which strikes terror rather than listening to God’s voice which calms our fears.  Satan would rather keep us as his captive rather than see us set free by the living God.  Satan would rather have us live focused on what’s terrifying us - seeing no way out - no resolution - no hope of change - doubting God - rather than focusing on the sovereign God who knows the end. 

Hear this:  When you’re under siege be careful who’s voice you listen to

Verse 36 - look at
The Response of God’s people:  But the people were silent and answered him - Rab-Shakeh - not a word, for the king’s commandment was, “Do not answer him.”  Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn - a sign of anger and mourning - deep emotion - and told him - Hezekiah - the words of Rab-Shakeh, and when King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth - a sign of anger - mourning - a broken heart - and entered the house of the Lord.

Who has Rab-Shakeh come up against?  Think carefully here.  The obvious answer - but not the right answer - the obvious answer is Hezekiah.  Right?  Hezekiah got you all into this.

But who was Hezekiah following?  God.

Rab-Shakeh - acting on behalf of Sennacherib - has come up against God.  He’s compared God to all the other gods - man made deities - that the Assyrians have mowed down.  He’s insinuated that the Assyrians are more powerful that God.  At the least they’re acting on behalf of God.  Which is pure blasphemy - saying that God is doing something that God isn’t doing.  Rab-Shakeh has put God’s reputation on the line.  Follow God and get creamed - ‘cause your God is wimp.

Hezekiah - to his credit - doesn’t respond to all that.  Why?  Because it isn’t Hezekiah’s battle.  It isn’t Hezekiah’s reputation that’s on the line.  Hezekiah’s following God.  Why should he stop now?  Why step into the role of trying to defend God?  Its God’s battle.  Its God’s reputation.

Hezekiah’s heart is heavy - deeply troubled - weighed down with all that’s before him.  Ever have a heavy heart?  Having a heavy heart while under siege isn’t a sin.  Hezekiah goes with that heavy heart to God’s temple - to God - brings the whole situation back to God.  That’s where we need to go.

Are we seeing that together?

Under siege - the voice of Satan - our adversary - he tries to get us to think that what we’re up against is all about us.  But life is about Who?  God - not us.  That doesn’t change when we’re under siege.  Under siege - keep following God.

Verse  1 - here in chapter 19 - sets the tone for the rest of chapter 19.  We’re not going to read the whole chapter.  But I’d like to have us touch down on a few verses that give us examples of what it means to keep following God - going to God while under siege.

First - look with me at 2 Kings 19 - verse 2: 
Then he - Hezekiah - sent Eliakim who was over the household with Shebna the scribe and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.  They said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, ‘This day is a day of distress, rebuke, and rejection; for children have come to birth and there is no strength to deliver.  Perhaps the Lord your God will hear all the words of Rab-Shakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God - its about God - and will rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard.  Therefore - because this is about God -  offer a prayer for the remnant that is left.’”  So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah.

Example number one:  Get help
!!!  Get other people praying.  Godly men and women who will take your situation to God in prayer.  If today you don’t know someone who’ll do that for you.  Well, tough luck.

No.  That’s not right.  What a horrible place to be if we don’t have people to pray for us.

Start looking for someone today.  Don’t put it off.  So that when you come under siege that person will already be in place and you can go to them and say,
“Can you pray about this?”

You might ask God -
“Send someone into my life that will pray for me.”  You might look around and see who’s here at Creekside that you know who’s living with God and ask them - “When I’m under siege will you pray for me?”  You might not have to look farther than your spouse.  When all else fails - call a pastor.  Because we would be more than willing to pray with you.

Don’t - because of fear or false pride or something - don’t listen to Satan - don’t let Satan hold you back from getting others to pray for you.

Look how God answers Hezekiah - an answer that Hezekiah probably wouldn’t have gotten if he hadn’t asked Isaiah to pray.  Verse 6: 
Isaiah said to them, “Thus you shall say to your master - Hezekiah - ‘Thus says the Lord, “Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me - its about God - Behold, I will put a spirit in him so that he will hear a rumor and return to his own land.  And I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.”’”   That’s the end we saw at the beginning.  Keep what in sight?  The end.  

Verses 8 to 13 - which we’re not going to read - but let me summarize - in verses 8 to 13 - Sennacherib - when Hezekiah doesn’t surrender - Sennacherib sends a letter to Hezekiah explaining how foolish Hezekiah is to trust God to deliver him.

Hezekiah - who’s expecting Sennacherib to go home and get dead - again has his faith tested. 
“I’m trusting God.  Why hasn’t God taken care of this?”  Ever been there? 

Verse 14: 
Then Hezekiah took the letter - sent by Sennacherib - took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it, and he went up to the house of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord.

Imagine this official correspondence - probably a scroll with a regal seal on it - delivered by messengers from the Sennacherib the great and powerful - a scroll that Hezekiah takes and spreads out in front of God.

The word “spread” in Hebrew is “paras” which has the idea of unrolling something - like a scroll.  It also has the idea of breaking something into little pieces and spreading those pieces around.  Depending on how you want to take this - Hezekiah either unrolls this scroll before God - or he disrespectfully makes confetti out of it and spreads the confetti out before God.  Either action shows that Hezekiah has more regard for God than Sennacherib and his threats.

Verse 15: 
Hezekiah prayed before the Lord - grab that.  Second example:  Pray!!!  Go directly to God.

Hezekiah prayed before the Lord and said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.  You have made heaven and earth.

Under siege we need to be reminded of Who God is - the Almighty Sovereign Creating God.

Verse 16: 
Incline Your ear, O Lord, and hear; open Your eyes, O Lord, and see; and listen to the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God.  This is about You - not me.

Verse 17:  Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have devastated the nations and their lands and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone.  So they have destroyed them.

All the stuff that people put their trust in - little wooden gods - or mutual funds - You are the one true God.  My trust remains in You.

Verse 19: 
Now, O Lord our God, I pray, deliver us from his hand that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You alone, O Lord, are God.”

God do this for You.  You be glorified.

What are we keeping in sight?  The end.  We know how this ends.  Right?  God takes out Sennacherib and his army - as only God can.  The Assyrians are 1,000 and 1.  God’s people are saved.  God is glorified.

It helps to know the end
.  Doesn’t it?  Hezekiah knew what God would do.  But still - seeing the end from the perspective of accomplished history is a little bit easier.  Isn’t it?

Wouldn’t it be great - if when we’re under siege - and we’ve got others praying - and we’re praying - and we’re waiting for God to act - if we could have the kind of faith that knows that the end is as certain as the beginning?

There was a nun who was flying - who feared flying.  While the plane was taxing she was whimpering in her seat.  Finally the man next to her said,
“Sister - why are you afraid?  I thought Jesus said He would be with you always.”

She said,
“No.  Jesus said, ‘Lo, I am with you always.’”  (Matthew 28:20)

Really old bad joke.

But do we believe it?  Jesus’ presence with us - even under siege?  Even in the valley of death’s shadow?  (Psalm 23)

Jesus said,
“You will be hated by all because of My name.  Yet not a hair of your head will perish.”  (Luke 21:17,18)  We’re hated because we follow Jesus.  But, God is with us - always.  Nothing happens in our lives that God isn’t greater than.  Do we believe that?

What about this promise?  
“He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6)  Follow Jesus and what God purposes to do in your life He’ll do.

The promises go on and on - Genesis to Revelation.  Jesus said,
“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believe in Me will live even if He dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will ever die.  Do you believe this?”  (John 11:25,26)

We know how this ends.  Right?  A new heaven and new earth.  Forever dwelling with God. 

We live in a world under siege.  Following Jesus runs contrary to the flow of this world.  Our hearts can be heavy.  But, who’s voice will you listen to?  Who’s end will you live by?




Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.