Sennacherib Comes Against Jerusalem

Isaiah 36 describes the fulfillment of his previous warnings to Judah.  The Assyrian king, Sennacherib came against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them.  Second Chronicles 32 indicates that King Hezekiah expected Sennacherib to come to Jerusalem.  In preparation for the army of Sennacherib, Hezekiah had his men stop up the waters of the fountains so there wouldn’t be any water outside the city for Sennacherib’s men.  Hezekiah’s men made weapons.  They rebuilt the wall that was broken down and fortified the walls with towers.

Hezekiah set officers set over the people and encouraged them to be strong and courageous.  He pointed out to the people that the king of Assyria was only a man and that God would help them fight their battles.  This is reminiscent of the Lord encouraging Joshua to be strong and courageous as the second generation who left Egypt were about to enter the Promised Land.

When Sennacherib’s men arrived at the wall, they wanted to know who the people of Jerusalem were trusting.  They mocked God and said Hezekiah was misleading them.  They said the people of Jerusalem would die of famine and thirst.  They mistakenly assumed that Hezekiah had taken away the high places and altars of the Lord their God when in fact Hezekiah had removed the high places and altars of false gods.

The question, “Who we are we trusting in for our deliverance?” is valid for everyone today.  Who does Israel trust in for their deliverance from Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and its other enemies?  Their trust shouldn’t be in any country or their own army. Is their trust in Yahweh their Elohim?  Is it in Yeshua HaMashiyach (Jesus Christ)? I don’t know.

Sennacherib’s men began to exalt themselves and boast in their victories over those who they had devoted to destruction (charam).[i]  This was most likely what they really intended to do in Jerusalem.  This word for destruction is the same word used to describe the way the Joshua’s men destroyed Jericho with the exception of Rahab and her family.  This is the kind of destruction the Lord has planned for Israel’s enemies in the future.

Hezekiah’s men (Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah) asked Sennacherib’s chief cupbearer not to speak in the language of the Judeans because he didn’t want them to become distracted and discouraged.  The chief cupbearer did not listen to them.  He continued to speak to everyone who could hear.  He began to speak words of making peace to draw them out of the city.  He promised to let them eat of their own vines and fig trees, and to let them drink water from their own wells until he would take them to a land like their own, a land of grain and new wine.  He reminded them that the gods of other nations did not deliver the nations of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Samaria, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, sons of Eden in Telassar, Hena, and Ivah from the king of Assyria.  After hearing this, Hezekiah’s men fearfully reported the words of the chief cupbearer to King Hezekiah.

Hezekiah responded by praying to the Lord for the remnant.  The Lord had already heard what Sennacherib told his men to say to the Judeans yet Hezekiah brought all of the information before the Lord.  He reminded the Lord of the evil ways of the kings of Assyria.  Finally, Hezekiah begged the Lord to deliver his people from destruction so that all the nations would know that Yahweh is the only God.  Isaiah sent word to Hezekiah not to fear the Assyrians and said that Sennacherib would fall by the sword in his own land. 

Isaiah 37:29 explains what the Lord planned to do to Sennacherib:  “Because your rage against Me and your tumult Have come up to My ears, Therefore I will put My hook in your nose And My bridle in your lips, And I will turn you back By the way which you came.”  In other words, He’s telling Sennacherib that He’s going to lead him away from Jerusalem and back to Nineveh. 

It’s curious to note that similar words are used in Ezekiel 38:4 where the Lord says He will draw the armies of Gog into war.  This just shows that the Lord God has, is, and will be in control of the coming and going of Israel’s enemies whether or not they realize it.

Next, the Lord gave Hezekiah a sign that He would do as He promised.  First, they would eat self-sown grain (saphiyach = that which grew of itself).  This is descriptive of grain that grows on its own in a sabbatical year.  The second year, they would eat grain that grew of itself from that which previously came up on its own (shachiys).  This is descriptive of a year of Jubilee.   After that, they would eat what they had planted themselves.  In addition, the remnant that escaped destruction would be fruitful and multiply as well.

The Lord kept His word.  That night, the Angel of the Lord killed 185,000 of Sennacherib’s men.  Sennacherib returned to Nineveh where his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with the sword.  Esarhaddon, Sennacherib’s son ruled in his place.

Don’t Israel’s enemies behave this way today?  Don’t they make threats to destroy the people of Israel?   The nation of Israel wants peace with its neighbors yet its enemies want nothing more than to wage destruction against them.  Nothing has ever changed.

How will the Lord respond to Israel’s enemies today between now and the time of their final destruction?  The Lord has not run out of miracles.  He’s trying to turn the hearts of His people to Himself.  Pray for the Lord to have mercy on His people around the world.  Pray for wisdom for Israel’s leaders.  Pray for Israel’s protection.  Pray for Israel to seek and cry out for their deliverance and for them to know their Yeshua.

[i] 2 Chronicles 32:14.

The Judgment of Fire

Isaiah 33 opens with another woe.  It is addressed to the destroyer and the betrayer.  Some English versions translate it as the plunderer and one who deals treacherously.  Originally, it was a warning to Assyria.  I tend to believe this is also a reference to the future. 

Besides Assyria, it was also a reference to the coming King of the North.  Daniel 11:21-45 describes this despicable man.  Actually, it describes Antiochus IV Epiphanes who is a type of the coming Antichrist.  Both are known in this passage as the King of the North.  Daniel 11:45 describes his end:  “And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.” 

God’s people surely begged the Lord for mercy and salvation in their time of trouble during King Hezekiah’s reign.  They will do so again in the future.  Daniel 12 says that at that time, there will be a time of trouble such as never was since Israel was a nation.  This is a reference to the latter half of the final shavuah (7 year period) prior to Christ’s return and the ultimate year of Jubilee.  At that point, God’s people will realize they have broken their covenant with the Lord and desire reconciliation. 

As written in Isaiah, the Lord is exalted and reigns on high.  He has and will fill Zion with justice and righteousness.  The Lord gives us stability which comes from wisdom and knowledge; and salvation—both physical and spiritual.  The Lord’s plunder will be gathered at that time.

These verses applied not only to the past but also apply to the future.  As mentioned in a previous post, the Lord came and killed 185,000 people in the camp of the Assyrians.  At that time Sennacherib, the king of Assyria went away and returned to Nineveh.[i]  In the future, the Lord will come and destroy the armies of the Beast.  At this time, the Lord will arise and be exalted.

Isaiah 33:10-12 says, “Now I will rise,” says the Lord; Now I will be exalted, Now I will lift Myself up.  11 You shall conceive chaff, You shall bring forth stubble; Your breath, as fire, shall devour you. 12 And the people shall be like the burnings of lime; Like thorns cut up they shall be burned in the fire.”

Revelation speaks of fire as a punishment or judgment in several ways.  Fire from the sun will be the fourth plague or bowl of Revelation.  The Harlot, Babylon the Great will be consumed with fire.  The beast and false prophet will be thrown in the lake of fire.  Gog’s armies will be consumed with fire after the millennial reign of Christ.  The adversary will be thrown in the lake of fire.  Death and sheol will be thrown in the lake of fire.  Finally, anyone whose name is not found written in the Book of Life will be thrown in the lake of fire. 

Ezekiel 38:22 and 39:6 describes the judgment of Gog and Magog:  “And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. 23 Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord… And I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in security in the coastlands. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.”  Note that fire is one of the judgments listed here.

As Isaiah continues, we understand that sinners need to be consumed with holy fear of the Lord.  Things have not changed much since Isaiah’s time.  People today still laugh in scorn at the idea of dwelling in everlasting fire.  Fortunately, the righteous need not fear the fire of the Lord.  His fire will purify the righteous.  In the midst of the evil and perverse generation in which we live, let must live uprightly, despise oppressive gain, and refuse bribes.  We must avoid evil no matter what form it takes.  We must remember our eternal destiny is to dwell with the Lord and that He will provide for us and be our defense.

One day we will see the King of kings and Lord of lords in all of His glorious beauty.  We won’t need to fear our enemies any longer.  We’ll be of one mind and language.  Jerusalem will be a city of peace and tranquility.  A tabernacle will be there during the millennial reign of Christ and will not be taken down.  Those who dwell there will be healthy and their sins will be forgiven.  Once there is a new earth, there will be no need for a temple in the new Jerusalem because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple.[ii]

Isaiah 34 describes the destruction of the nations.  Since this follows  the coming of Christ described in Isaiah 33, it seems to refer to the Battle of Gog and Magog which is described in Revelation 20; however, some may believe this is a reference to the Battle of Armageddon which takes place just prior to the beginning of Christ’s millennial reign in Jerusalem. 

After Christ’s millennial reign, the Lord will deal with the nations of the world.  According to Revelation 20, the Adversary will be released from the abyss after the 1000 years are over.  He will deceive the nations in the four quarters of the earth.  They will gather the armies of Gog for battle against Jerusalem.  The Lord will allow them to come into Israel and surround Jerusalem.  Suddenly, fire will come down from heaven and consume them. 

This seems like the most likely time for the demonic host which is in heaven to be destroyed and for the heavens to be rolled up like a scroll.

Isaiah then describes the judgment of Edom that will be in Bozrah.  Since the prophet appears to be switching back and forth between time periods and similarly described events, it is difficult to say with certainty when this prophecy will really take place.  Many believe this precedes the Battle of Armageddon since the Lord is wearing blood stained clothing at that time.[iii]

The destruction of Edom is prophesied in Obadiah.  At some point, Edom will send a messenger among the nations calling for the attack on Israel.  The Lord promised a remnant will remain on Mount Zion, a flame will consume the house of Esau, and that the land of Edom will become a wasteland.

Even though tough days are ahead for God’s people, I repeat the words of Isaiah 35:3-4:  “Strengthen the weak hands, And make firm the feeble knees. 4 Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, With the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”  Don’t doubt it!  Count on it!

[i] 2 Kings 19:35-36.

[ii] Revelation 21:22.

[iii] Revelation 19:13.