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?”
The Language of Fear
Another wonderful aspect of narrative is how small occurrences reveal deeper insights to us. For instance, this messenger from Assyria gives an ultimatum to Israel – “Submit to Assyria, or be destroyed; nothing, not even God, can save you from our might”. I think all of can imagine being intimidated, and even seriously considering such an offer.
But what is striking about this offer is the language in which it is given – the Jewish leaders ask the Assyrian to speak in Aramaic so as to not intimidate the local people who are listening to them, but the Assyrian goes right ahead and repeats his threats in Hebrew, even promising them mercy and blessings in addition. He totally does this on purpose in order to heighten the fear of the Israelites, and make it more likely for them to cave into that fear.
I think that even to this day, fear knows how to speak our language, how to assault the weakest sections of our armor. For those of us who don’t like uncertainty, the fear of unemployment or the future or anything vague and unsettled will have a more damaging effect on us, and make it more likely for us to lose our trust in God and take the easiest way out. And whatever our fear happens to be, any threat to that particular aspect of our lives is all the more dangerous and effective.
Practically, there are a couple of ways to face and silence our fears. First, we must know them. As hard as it may seem, we must know what makes us most afraid, what thoughts makes us quail in terror. And once we know what our fears are, we have to face those fears in light of the reality of God’s power, his love, and his wisdom. For when we look at our fears through those lenses, we begin to realize that our fears, no matter how intimidating they might have seemed, are really very small relative to God.
1. What, when you think about it, are you most afraid of?
2. Why do you think you are most afraid of that particular thought or prospect?
3. How does the character or the power of God as revealed in Scripture affect your fear?
4. How does your personal experience with God affect your fear?