Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem
1 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, Sennacherib king of Assyria attacked all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them. 2 Then the king of Assyria sent his field commander with a large army from Lachish to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem. When the commander stopped at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field, 3 Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went out to him.
4 The field commander said to them, “Tell Hezekiah,
” ‘This is what the great king, the king of Assyria, says: On what are you basing this confidence of yours? 5 You say you have strategy and military strength—but you speak only empty words. On whom are you depending, that you rebel against me? 6 Look now, you are depending on Egypt, that splintered reed of a staff, which pierces a man’s hand and wounds him if he leans on it! Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who depend on him. 7 And if you say to me, “We are depending on the LORD our God”-isn’t he the one whose high places and altars Hezekiah removed, saying to Judah and Jerusalem, “You must worship before this altar”?
8 ” ‘Come now, make a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria: I will give you two thousand horses—if you can put riders on them! 9 How then can you repulse one officer of the least of my master’s officials, even though you are depending on Egypt for chariots and horsemen? 10 Furthermore, have I come to attack and destroy this land without the LORD ? The LORD himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.’ “
11 Then Eliakim, Shebna and Joah said to the field commander, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall.”
12 But the commander replied, “Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the men sitting on the wall—who, like you, will have to eat their own filth and drink their own urine?”
13 Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew, “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! 14 This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you! 15 Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the LORD when he says, ‘The LORD will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’
16 “Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then every one of you will eat from his own vine and fig tree and drink water from his own cistern, 17until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards.
18 “Do not let Hezekiah mislead you when he says, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’ Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? 20 Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”
21 But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.”
22 Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and Joah son of Asaph the recorder went to Hezekiah, with their clothes torn, and told him what the field commander had said.
Faith In Context
Now, you might be asking if we are still doing Isaiah because this passage is different from what we’ve read to this point, and the answer is yes! The book makes a shift from prophecy to narrative, here relating the account of the invasion of the Assyrians – a couple of items of note that we’ll talk about in two different segments:
First, the change in writing is important even in itself. The prophecies that we have read up to this point have been powerful and evocative, and definitely taught us more about the character of God, and also many of the fallacies that we commonly slip into. But narrative, as seen in chapter 36 and onwards, is powerful in its own right because it allows us to see theology and principles and faith in context.
It is one thing to be taught in the abstract, and a totally different thing to have to apply that idea in real life. And so as we enter into the latter half of Isaiah, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that our faith is not matter of ideas and talk, but of action and power, of the ideas of faith lived out in our everyday life. All things that we learn of God should find some foothold in our lives because our lives are the road upon which the ideas of faith must find their traction.
1. What were some of the ideas that you learned in Isaiah chapters 1 through 35?
2. Have any of those ideas affected how you live practically?
3. If those ideas have not made an impact, how can you better apply what you learn from the Word to the life that you lead?