Thursday, August 4, 2022

Arrogance Preceding Crushing Defeat

Hezekiah is 25 when he begins to rule Judah in 726 BC. He becomes one of the few kings of Judah to remain as loyal to Yahweh as his ancestor David had been. One important way in which he expresses his loyalty to Yahweh (only true god), rather than to Jupiter (false god of politics), is by withholding tribute to the king of Assyria (2 Kings 18:7).

Years pass between that refusal to express loyalty to Assyria and Assyrian retribution. Finally its huge army marches on tiny Judah and quickly captures all its fortified cities except Jerusalem (18:13).

As the Assyrian army advances, it demonstrates its Olympian power and contempt for Yahweh by going anywhere it pleases and there destroying the best of Yahweh’s good creation (19:23-24). As it easily envelops Jerusalem, its representative approaches the city’s walls. There he encourages Hezekiah’s messengers, and people listening on the walls, to save themselves by surrendering since resistance is futile. 

The Assyrian’s representative goes one step farther. He declares that no one on Earth or even in Heaven can save the people of Jerusalem from the army of Assyria. He shouts, “‘And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” Has any of the gods of the nations ever delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?’” (18:32b-33).

Now it’s personal: the Olympian gods of Assyria, through the king of Assyria and his representative, have just personally attacked Yahweh. They say he’s just like any other god; in other words, he’s just like them and, being on their level, they can take his temple and city from him. Hezekiah takes the letter of the Assyrian king containing the attack and, going to the temple, lays it on Yahweh’s altar. Hezekiah prays, “So now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone” (19:19). 

That very night the angel of Yahweh kills 185,000 Assyrian soldiers (710 BC). In response Sennacherib, the Assyrian king, and his army withdraw from Jerusalem and return to the Assyrian capital of Nineveh. While Sennacherib is worshiping in the temple of his god, two of his sons murder him (19:35-37).

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
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