The Fall of a Godly Nation
Intentional Deceit – The
Lies and Intimidation of Sennacherib
The year is 701 BC. The holy city of Jerusalem is in a terribly fragile condition. While a generally peaceful situation exists within the walls of Jerusalem, all of Israel and the vast majority of Judah lies under the control of Assyria. The welcome reforms put into place by King Hezekiah of Judah are well beyond being threatened … they are on the verge of vanishing at the hands of the Assyrians.
Hezekiah has purged the city and the Temple of idolatry and regular Temple worship has been reinstated. The “high places” of perverted worship have been destroyed and the cherished Passover celebration has been restored. Nevertheless, Assyrian King Sennacherib’s army is camped outside the walls of the holy city of Jerusalem, where Hezekiah is in residence, and poised to attack.
Before the battle, Sennacherib sends three of his military leaders to the walls of the city of Jerusalem with a message for King Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Sennacherib’s message provides an opportunity for modern day Christians to gain insight into how God’s followers are tempted to abandon God’s teachings and to believe in Satan’s lies. In addition, there is also occasion to look into how our leaders are following their own chosen course rather than that of Almighty God.
Scripture: (all Scripture ESV unless otherwise noted)
2 Kings 18:13-16, 36-37 – 13 In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. 14 And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong; withdraw from me. Whatever you impose on me I will bear.” And the king of Assyria required of Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house. 16 At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord and from the doorposts that Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid and gave it to the king of Assyria. …
36 But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s (Hezekiah) command was, “Do not answer him.” 37 Then Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with their clothes torn and told him the words of the Rabshakeh.
Sennacherib, King of Assyria, has led his powerful army on a successful rampage through Judah intimidating, sacking one Judean city after another and carrying off captives as slaves. His ultimate goal … attack and defeat the royal and holy city of Jerusalem where King Hezekiah of Judah resides.
According to 2 Kings 18:15-16, in an attempt to ward off the impending attack, Hezekiah paid a tribute of “all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house. At that time Hezekiah stripped the gold from the doors of the temple of the Lord and from the doorposts that Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid and gave it to the king of Assyria.”
Below, according to the archeological artifact known as the Taylor prism, are King Sennacherib’s own words describing how he viewed the situation with Jerusalem and King Hezekiah:
Because Hezekiah, king of Judah, would not submit to my yoke, I came up against him, and by force of arms and by the might of my power I took 46 of his strong fenced cities; and of the smaller towns which were scattered about, I took and plundered a countless number. From these places I took and carried off 200,156 persons, old and young, male and female, together with horses and mules, asses and camels, oxen and sheep, a countless multitude; and Hezekiah himself I shut up in Jerusalem, his capital city, like a bird in a cage, building towers round the city to hem him in, and raising banks of earth against the gates, so as to prevent escape… Then upon Hezekiah there fell the fear of the power of my arms, and he sent out to me the chiefs and the elders of Jerusalem with 30 talents of gold and 300 talents of silver, and diverse treasures, a rich and immense booty… All these things were brought to me at Nineveh, the seat of my government.
The tribute paid by Hezekiah did nothing to stop the advance of Sennacherib’s forces. Instead, Sennacherib positioned his army “at the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman’s Field” (2 Kings 18:17, NIV) on the outskirts and outside the wall of Jerusalem. The three key messengers (supreme commander, chief officer and field commander) of Sennacherib’s army called for King Hezekiah to come out and hear Sennacherib’s message. Instead, “… there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebnah the secretary, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder” (2 Kings 18:18).
Faithfully delivering Sennacherib’s message of intimidation and lies, the three Assyrian army leaders boasted about the ease with which they had accomplished their previous victories; the failure of Judah’s supposed ally, Egypt, to come to their aid and provide chariots and horses to help protect Judah; and, the superiority of Assyria’s god over Judah’s God and all other gods.
In addition the messengers tried to turn Hezekiah’s own forces against him through lies and deceit by calling “… out in a loud voice in the language of Judah (Hebrew): ‘Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! … Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand.Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, The Lord will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ 31 Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, 32 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, “The Lord will deliver us” (2 Kings 18:28-32).
Drawing some parallels from this article to our modern times, here are some questions that Satan or your enemies might ask as he/they try to foist their wicked ways upon you through intimidation and lies.
- In Whom/What do you trust? – Satan often uses such a question to see if your beliefs are on solid ground or can be easily shaken. Believers are often too eager to share dialogue with their enemies thinking that they might be able to persuade them to see things their way. Recall how Satan posed a simple question in the Garden of Eden to Eve that ultimately led to Adam and Eve’s downfall into sin. In Genesis 3:1 Satan approached Eve by herself and asked ” … “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” That kind of questioning is designed to bring about doubt in your mind that can lead to doubt in your heart and a lack of trust. Sennacherib used a similar strategy with Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem by tempting to them to question the adequacy of God (and Hezekiah’s defenses) to protect them. Bottom line, place your trust in the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! He will never fail you … no matter the circumstances!
- Does the one you trust have your best interest at heart? – This was certainly the tactic Satan used on Eve in the Garden of Eden. Satan went straight after God launching a direct character assault by saying “… You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it (the Tree of Life) your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil “(Genesis 3:4b-5). Satan was implying that God did not have Eve’s best interest at heart. Instead, He was protecting His territory by trickery and deception. Sennacherib also attacked the character of Hezekiah and his God. As recorded in his own words “… by the might of my power I took 46 of his strong fenced cities … and plundered a countless number.” In the mind of Sennacherib this implied that his god was far stronger than Judah’s God … and if Judah’s God had Jerusalem’s best interest at heart, then why would He allow the sacking of most of Judah and the advance of Sennacherib’s army all the way to the walls of Jerusalem? Christian, don’t allow yourself to be so easily tricked into questioning if following God is worth the price when so many around you seem to be prospering by following Satan’s sinful ways. God loves you and wants the very best for you.
- How secure are you with your King? – Sennacherib preyed upon the people of Jerusalem’s insecurity in both their king and their God. Christian, when you allow yourself to engage in such a conversation, you are more easily led into a state of insecurity. This allows Satan to prey upon that insecurity and place thoughts and questions into your mind such as “Why should I resist? I know it is wrong, but others are doing it and seem to be prospering.” Instead, stand firm on your convictions and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6). God has never made even one promise that He has not, nor will not, be kept.
- Is the god you are worshiping really God? – Finally Satan’s (and Sennacherib’s) assault reaches a climax by shouting that your God is not real! He is dead! He is simply a figment of your imagination! A trickster! A deceiver! A liar! Not really THE KING at all! Under such an attack it is so easy to fall prey to sin. Everywhere we look … TV, movies, at work, at school, in our literature, in our government, on the internet … we see sin at work in our society. Where people were once proud to be Christians, we now see those same people cowered down, afraid to let it be known that they are followers of Almighty God, excluded from conversations, ridiculed and persecuted for their beliefs, forced to accept unGodly acts such as abortion and same-sex marriage, etc., etc.
Christian, you can trust in Almighty God to protect you from Satan’s intentional deceit through his lies and intimidation. I have read the back of the Holy Book and God is the eternal victor! Satan is a trickster! … a deceiver! … a liar!
John records in Revelation 20:10, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Followers of Satan will suffer the same consequence for an unimaginable eternity. On the other hand, followers of God will spend an unimaginable eternity in Heaven at the feet of Jesus.
Unfortunately the leadership of our modern day world as a whole has fallen prey to practicing the same kinds of lies and deceit used by Satan. Politicians regularly and knowingly lie/deceive constituents to conceal their true agenda. This is almost a universal practice and is an absolute abomination. How can citizens place their trust in a government that lies to them? … and lies without any concern or consequence when caught in those lies. If you cannot trust your government to tell you the truth about small things, then how can you trust them to tell you the truth about anything? And how can you trust them to provide the protection in the times of crisis. Take a current world situation as an example. Russia places troops next to Crimea, foments unrest using paid thugs, all the time says they have no intent of invading … and then takes over Crimea anyway. Now they are doing the same thing to the remainder of Ukraine … massing troops on the border of Ukraine, constantly telling the world that they have no intent to intervene militarily, fomenting unrest using paid thugs, and all the time lying about their real intent.
As Americans, let me pose the same questions mentioned above on an individual level to you about our American government:
- In Whom/What do you trust?
- Does the one you trust have your best interest at heart?
- How secure are you with your King?
- Is the god you are worshiping really God?
Repeating the closing from the third article in this series …
“Isaiah’s warning to Judah and Jerusalem in Isaiah 22:14 rings in my ears! “Surely for this iniquity there will be no atonement for you …” Are our leaders listening? I don’t think so!”
As Christians there are many lessons we can learn from the fall of Israel and Judah. As a direct result of my study I have quite a number of topics in mind that I plan to develop into articles in the future, Lord willing. This first set of articles will deal with a portion of the time period when King Hezekiah of Judah and his strong Assyrian adversary, King Sennacherib reigned. As always, the articles will be based on Scripture and include a Reflection that draws parallels to our modern times. Here’s my ambitious list of the topics, not necessarily listed in order, that I want to cover:
- The Fall of a Godly Nation – An Introduction to a Series of Articles on Ancient Israel and Judah That Parallel Our Modern Day
- Revival Before the Fall – Hezekiah Brings Reforms and Revival to Judah
- Successful Execution of the Wrong Plan – Hezekiah’s Tunnel
- Intentional Deceit – The Lies and Intimidation of Sennacherib
- The Folly of Not Trusting God – Isaiah Pronounces Judgement
- God Listens and Restores – Hezekiah’s Illness and Recovery
- Lest Any Man Should Boast – Sennacherib Blasphemes Jehovah
- Parading Your Own Glory – The Consequences of Hezekiah’s Pride
- Passing the Mantle – The Failure of a Godly Father
- Conclusion: Is It Too Late for America?
I am excited about the message of these articles and look forward to completing them! It will take me some time as I have again begun working on my third book, Thank You Lord For Saving My Soul, which will include an extensive updated article on Evangelists Seth and Bessie Sykes.
Look for the next article in this series soon.
Where to Read More:
- Scriptures About Hezekiah – 2 Kings 18 – 20; 2 Chronicles 29 – 32; Isaiah 36 – 39
- Biography of King Hezekiah
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Other Christian Articles by Jim Davenport:
- but God …
- If You Want to Hear God Laugh, Tell Him You Have a Plan
- Calling Evil Good – The Abortion Tragedy
- God Came Down to Our Place – A Christmas Devotion
- OMG – “Oh, My God!
- When a : (colon) is not a colon – Medical Update
- Moving On – In Accordance With God’s Will
- If I Were The Devil
- From Persecutor to Persecuted
- The Spindly Grapevine
- Our Source of Courage
- Be Strong in The Lord
- God is Faithful
- Our Comforter
- God Will Provide
- In His Time
- God’s Solution for Anxiety
- Facing Tough Times
- Is Anything too Hard for God?
- Do Not Fear
- An Anchor in the Time of the Storm
- His Grace is Sufficient for Me
- Become A Christian
- Sin’s Earthly Consequences
- Fully God, Fully Man!!
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