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FRAMEWORKS: Isaiah

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FRAMEWORKS: Isaiah 37: The downfall of Sennacherib

 

v.1-4 Hezekiah send to Isaiah for help

v.5-8 Isaiah prophesies the downfall of the king of Assyria

v.9-13 Sennacherib tells Hezekiah not to think he's safe

v.14-20 Hezekiah prays

v.21-29 The Lord speaks a word against Sennacherib

 

[Introductory Comment: This chapter follows directly on from the previous one with the king turning for spiritual help from Isaiah [v.1-4] who simply prophesies the downfall and death of the king of Assyria [v.5-8]. When Assyria has to attend to other opposition, the king warns Hezekiah against feeling complacent [v.9-13]. The provokes Hezekiah to pray [v.14-20] and the Lord concludes with a further word against Assyria's king [v.21-29]. God is Lord, not the king of Assyria!]

 

 

v.1-4 Hezekiah sends to Isaiah for help

 

v.1  When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord .

v.2 He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary, and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz.

v.3  They told him, ‘This is what Hezekiah says: this day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them.

v.4  It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the Lord your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives.'

 

[Notes: When Hezekiah hears the report from his officials he sends to Isaiah with a request that he will seek the Lord for help.]

 

 

v.5-8 Isaiah prophesies the downfall of the king of Assyria

 

v.5  When King Hezekiah's officials came to Isaiah,

v.6  Isaiah said to them, ‘Tell your master, “This is what the Lord says: do not be afraid of what you have heard – those words with which the underlings of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me.

v.7  Listen! When he hears a certain report, I will make him want to return to his own country, and there I will have him cut down with the sword.”'

v.8  When the field commander heard that the king of Assyria had left Lachish, he withdrew and found the king fighting against Libnah.

 

[Notes: Isaiah prophesies that God says that the Assyrian king will hear a report that causes him to return home where he will be killed.]

 

 

v.9-13 Sennacherib tells Hezekiah not to think he's safe

 

v.9  Now Sennacherib received a report that Tirhakah, the king of Cush, was marching out to fight against him. When he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah with this word:

v.10 ‘Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, “Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.”

v.11  Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered?

v.12  Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my predecessors deliver them – the gods of Gozan, Harran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar?

v.13  Where is the king of Hamath or the king of Arpad? Where are the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah?'

 

[Notes: The king of Syria hears that another king is coming to attack him and realises he will have to go out against him and thus leave off his attack on Jerusalem. But he doesn't want to lose face before Hezekiah and so implies he will be back to finish the job. He declares his unbelief in respect of the Lord [v.10], looking instead to what they have achieved so far despite the gods of the other nations [v.11-13].

   

 

v.14-20 Hezekiah prays

 

v.14  Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord.

v.15  And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord:

v.16 [he first declares the Lord's greatness] ‘Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth.

v.17  [he asks the Lord to note what the enemy has said] Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.

v.18 [he acknowledges their victories] ‘It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands.

v.19  They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands.

v.20 [But now he asks the Lord to intervene on their behalf] Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are the only God.'

 

[Notes: There is a similarity here with the prayer of the early Christians in Acts 4:24- as they first glorify God [v.24], acknowledge the enemy's activities [v.27], asked the Lord to listen to their enemies [v.29] and asked Him to intervene [v.30]. It is a prayer of dependance on the all-powerful God.]

 

 

v.21-29 The Lord speaks a word against Sennacherib

 

v.21  Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: ‘This is what the Lord , the God of Israel, says: because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria,

v.22  this is the word the Lord has spoken against him:

[we mock you retreating king] ‘Virgin Daughter Zion
    despises and mocks you.
Daughter Jerusalem
    tosses her head as you flee.
v.23 [you clearly don't realise who you are against – Almighty God!] Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed?
    Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes in pride?
    Against the Holy One of Israel!
v.24 [you have ridiculed Him and boasted of your power] By your messengers
    you have ridiculed the Lord.
And you have said,
    “With my many chariots
I have ascended the heights of the mountains,
    the utmost heights of Lebanon.
I have cut down its tallest cedars,
    the choicest of its junipers.
I have reached its remotest heights,
    the finest of its forests.
v.25  I have dug wells in foreign lands
    and drunk the water there.
With the soles of my feet
    I have dried up all the streams of Egypt.”

v.26 [Don't you realise God has planned all this to discipline peoples] ‘Have you not heard?
    Long ago I ordained it.
In days of old I planned it;
    now I have brought it to pass,
that you have turned fortified cities
    into piles of stone.
v.27  Their people, drained of power,
    are dismayed and put to shame.
They are like plants in the field,
    like tender green shoots,
like grass sprouting on the roof,
    scorched before it grows up.

v.28 […but I know everything about you…] ‘But I know where you are
    and when you come and go
    and how you rage against me.
v.29 [puny man, because you insult me I'll turn you round] Because you rage against me
    and because your insolence has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
    and my bit in your mouth,
and I will make you return
    by the way you came.

 

[Notes: There is a delightful disdaining of the enemy in this prophecy, mocking his pride and his puny activities, not having realised that God allowed him to invade other lands to discipline those lands.]

 

 

v.30-32 The Lord declares within three years it will be safe to sow

 

v.30  ‘This will be the sign for you, Hezekiah:

‘This year you will eat what grows by itself,
    and the second year what springs from that.
But in the third year sow and reap,
    plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
v.31  Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah
    will take root below and bear fruit above.
v.32  For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,
    and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.

 

[Notes: Three years from now [v.30] security will return to Judah when the faithful remnant will be established.]

 

 

v.33-35 The Lord declares Jerusalem safe from this king of Assyria

 

v.33  ‘Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria:

‘He will not enter this city
    or shoot an arrow here.
He will not come before it with shield
    or build a siege ramp against it.
v.34  By the way that he came he will return;
    he will not enter this city,'
declares the Lord.
v.35  ‘I will defend this city and save it,
    for my sake and for the sake of David my servant!'

 

[Notes: It is a simple declaration from the Lord through Isaiah that this king will never enter Jerusalem because he will simply return home. Previously He had declared [v.7] that the king would be killed when he returned home.]

 

 

v.36-38 God acts in judgment, the king return home and is murdered

 

v.36  Then the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning – there were all the dead bodies!

v.37  So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.

v.38  One day, while he was worshipping in the temple of his god Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.

 

[Notes: The word of God – after God intervenes against the Assyrian army – is perfectly fulfilled.]

  

    

Continue to Chapter 38