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Hezekiah: Faith And Weakness


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CHAPTER 36 Jun. 12 
Assyria Invades Judah
Now it happened in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all of the fortified cities of Judah, and captured them. 2The king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem to king Hezekiah with a large army; he came and stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool in the fuller’s field highway. 3Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder came out to him. 4Rabshakeh said to them, Now tell Hezekiah, ‘Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this in which you trust? 5I say that your counsel and strength for the war are only vain words. Now in whom do you trust, that you have rebelled against me? 6Behold, you trust in the staff of this bruised reed, even in Egypt, which if a man leans on it, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. 7But if you tell me, ‘We trust in Yahweh our God’, isn’t that He whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah has taken away, and has said to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar?’ 8Now therefore, please make a pledge to 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. 9How then can you turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put your trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? 10Have I come up now without Yahweh against this land to destroy it? Yahweh said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it’. 11Then Eliakim, Shebna and Joah said to Rabshakeh, Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and don’t speak to us in the Jews’ language in the hearing of the people who are on the wall. 12But Rabshakeh said, 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, who will eat their own dung and drink their own urine with you? 13Then Rabshakeh stood, and called out with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and said, Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14Thus says the king, ‘Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you; for he will not be able to deliver you. 15Don’t let Hezekiah make you trust in Yahweh, saying, Yahweh will surely deliver us. This city won’t be given into the hand of the king of Assyria’. 16Don’t listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria, ‘Make your peace with me, and come out to me; and each of you eat from his vine, and each one from his fig tree, and each one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; 17until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, Yahweh will deliver us. Have any of the gods of the nations 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 delivered Samaria from my hand? 20Who are they among all the gods of these countries that have delivered their country out of my hand, that Yahweh should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? 21But they remained silent and said nothing in reply, for the king’s commandment was Don’t answer him. 22Then 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, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.


36:1 The Assyrian invasion was in the 14th year of Hezekiah’s reign. He reigned twenty nine years (2 Kings 14:2). His sickness unto death from which he was miraculously healed gave him another 15 years to live (38:5); his serious illness was therefore in the same year in which Judah was invaded. So often, several things go seriously wrong in our lives all at the same time. The chance of that happening is negligible; clearly such negative coincidences are all under God’s controlling hand [not that of any cosmic ‘Satan’ being]. The coincidences would be too great to write off as merely chance. Note also that Hezekiah had lived a good life and acted in faith despite being surrounded by many of weak or weaker faith- and then, double tragedy struck him. Good living is no guarantee of a charmed life now, indeed, given all the Biblical examples of good people like Hezekiah suffering bad things, we should be surprised if we don’t receive them. 
36:10 The way Rabshakeh uses the term “Yahweh”, speaks Hebrew (:11) and is aware of Isaiah’s prophecies about Assyria being sent to punish Judah, and the fact that Judah had trusted on Egypt when Yahweh had told them not to (:6), would all suggest that Rabshakeh was an apostate Jew who had gone over to the Assyrian side.
36:16,17 This is a parody of Micah’s prophecy of what God’s future Kingdom on earth would be like (Mic. 4:4). The allusion is so strong that it would seem Rabshakeh knew that prophecy, confirming the suggestion made under :10 that he was an apostate Jew. The kingdoms of this world offer us a fake kingdom of God in this life- if we submit to them and reject the vision of God’s Kingdom. Going the way of the world may appear to give all that God’s Kingdom offers- but the kingdoms of men shall come to an end, all is not what it seems, they will not last eternally as God’s Kingdom will; and it is for us to have the wisdom to see that we face a choice between the Kingdom of God, and the kingdoms of men which are a poor imitation of it.