Seventh Article in the Series
The Fall of a Godly Nation
Lest Any Man Should Boast – Sennacherib Blasphemes Jehovah
I have done my share of boasting and bragging over my life. Reflecting back, most of my boasting was harmful, though I did not necessarily understand the harm that I was doing at the time. Boasting is often s a ruse that allows one to elevate himself above his peers, or to turn peers into pawns. Sometimes boasting is designed just to tear others down … to implant fear in others … to elevate self over others, undeservedly.
Boasters often claim credit for a result as a work of their own, refusing to give credit to the one who actually was responsible for the accomplishment. The most insidious example of this is when one expects to earn a permanent place in heaven through their own initiative by steadfastly adhering to a set of rules and/or by doing good works. The Bible teaches that this is utter foolishness and that man’s salvation and home in Heaven can only be obtained through the grace of God because of what HE HAS DONE! Ephesians 2:4-9 puts it this way:
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Let’s look closer at boasting/bragging by examining more closely what the Bible says about King Sennacherib of Assyria as he boasted to Hezekiah and Jerusalem against Jehovah God. (For a more detailed review of the situation surrounding this article, you might want to review my article, Intentional Deceit, before proceeding with the rest of this article, though it is not necessary if time does not permit.)
First, some additional background derived from Thomas Nelson’s Chronological Study Bible (2008, p.673, A Bird in a Cage). In the 8th century BC the Assyrians were the dominant power in the Near East region of the ancient world. The confrontation between King Hezekiah of Judah and King Sennacherib of Assyria is well chronicled in the Bible and also in the annals of Assyrian history. Assyrian historical records claim that at the time of this boastful confrontation, Sennacherib had already destroyed 46 walled cities in Judah and numerous smaller towns. Sennacherib claimed that he had taken 200,150 Judeans captive in the process.
This was a severe blow to Judah, bordering on catastrophe. Sennacherib’s army next surrounded Jerusalem and seemed fully equipped to finish the absolute conquest of Judah. The Assyrian Chief of Staff Rabshakeh tried to convince Jerusalem’s city leaders to approach King Hezekiah to peacefully surrender the city without a fight. Sennacherib’s historical writings boasted about Hezekiah: “Himself like a caged bird, I shut up in Jerusalem, his royal city.”
Jerusalem was terrified. But God had a plan. Isaiah prophesied that under God the Assyrian army would withdraw and Sennacherib would meet his demise without taking Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 32:9-23 – 9 After this, Sennacherib king of Assyria, who was besieging Lachish with all his forces, sent his servants to Jerusalem to Hezekiah king of Judah and to all the people of Judah who were in Jerusalem, saying, 10 “Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria, ‘On what are you trusting, that you endure the siege in Jerusalem? 11 Is not Hezekiah misleading you, that he may give you over to die by famine and by thirst, when he tells you, “The Lord our God will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria”? 12 Has not this same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, “Before one altar you shall worship, and on it you shall burn your sacrifices”? 13 Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands at all able to deliver their lands out of my hand? 14 Who among all the gods of those nations that my fathers devoted to destruction was able to deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand? 15 Now, therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!’”
16 And his servants said still more against the Lord God and against his servant Hezekiah. 17 And he wrote letters to cast contempt on the Lord, the God of Israel, and to speak against him, saying, “Like the gods of the nations of the lands who have not delivered their people from my hands, so the God of Hezekiah will not deliver his people from my hand.” 18 And they shouted it with a loud voice in the language of Judah to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten and terrify them, in order that they might take the city. 19 And they spoke of the God of Jerusalem as they spoke of the gods of the peoples of the earth, which are the work of men’s hands.
20 Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven. 21 And the Lord sent an angel, who cut off ALL the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword. 22 So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side. 23 And many brought gifts to the Lord to Jerusalem and precious things to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the sight of all nations from that time onward.
II Chronicles 32:9 begins with the words “After this … ” What is the “this?” Sennacherib had already sacked most of Judah carrying off over 200 thousand captives. In an attempt to placate Sennacherib and save Judah and Jerusalem from destruction, Hezekiah paid a significant tribute to the Assyrian King, greatly decreasing Judah’s remaining national treasury. The tribute was gladly accepted but did not stop Sennacherib from continuing his assault on Judah.
Almost immediately Sennacherib’s army laid siege to the city of Lachish located twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem, completely sacking the Judean city. Immediately Sennacherib sent his representatives to Jerusalem to deliver his boasting message demanding the surrender of Jerusalem without a battle. According to The Wycliffe Bible Commentary (1962, The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, pp. 415-416) Sennacherib hoped to capitalize on any unpopularity of the Godly reforms (32:1) imposed by Hezekiah such as the removal of the “high places” of perverted worship (32:12). In addition Sennacherib’s spokesmen committed blasphemy against Jehovah God boasting that Judah’s God was no more able to protect them than any of the other gods of the cities that Assyria had already conquered (32:14). The verbal assault was extended to a written assault (32:17).
“Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven (32:20).” God answered their prayer by sending an angel to “…cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria (32:21).” Sennacherib’s army surrounding Jerusalem at that point consisted of 185,000 men … quite a sizable force. The entire force was killed in one night through a supernatural event totally the work of Jehovah God (32:21). This event, like the crossing on dry ground of the Red Sea during the Exodus from Egypt, is one of the most significant examples of how God intervenes to save his chosen people when they have repented and are on the right path. Sennacherib, spared when the angel delivered death to his entire army, returned to Assyria “with shame of face” to the “house of his god (where) some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword (32:21).”
So the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of ALL his enemies, and he provided for them on every side (32:22). The treasury in Jerusalem, depleted by the tribute paid by Hezekiah to Sennacherib, was wondrously restored through the generous gifts of “many” (32:23).
There are at least three moral lessons we can learn from this article:
First, there is a supreme price to pay if you blaspheme against any form of the Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Boasting and bragging about how great you and your god(s) are will not go unnoticed by God! Recognize that God, and only God, is supreme. Man’s boasting about himself and his accomplishments is in vain.
- Second, God will protect and deliver those who are faithful to Him, no matter the seeming odds stacked against them.
- Third, Boasting should never be about ourselves and our accomplishments. Boasting should always be about God. Consider Jeremiah 9:23-24 – Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
Sennacherib boasted about himself and his gods. He and his army paid the ultimate price through the actions of Almighty God. Will America pay the ultimate price because of our boasting about ourselves? Or will be do as Hezekiah and Isaiah did? Will we give up our self-centered independence from God? Will we admit both our individual and collective sinfulness as a people and as a nation? Will we turn from / repent from our wicked ways? Will we seek God through prayer with a broken heart asking for forgiveness that only He can provide? Will we seek His help to bring about Godly reforms in our homes, our churches, our public places and especially in our government? Will we no longer boast and brag about ourselves but only about God? Are we ready to stem the tide in America or stand aside and witness anew “The Fall of a Godly Nation?”
I pray that we are ready to turn away from ourselves and to God as our refuge in the times of such great trouble.
For Additional Study:
Scriptures on Boasting – Jude 1:16; Prov 27:1; Proverbs 25:14; Judges 9:38; 1 Samuel 2:1-3; Psalms 10:3; Amos 4:5; Matthew 6:2; Proverbs 27:2; 1 Corinthians 3:21; James 3:14; James 4:16; Jeremiah 9:23-24; Psalms 75:5
Click here to look up all of the following and display in a browser on website Bible Gateway.
Click here for a printable pdf file format of these scriptures.
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
Books by Jim Davenport: Please consider the purchase of Jim’s books to help spread the message of Christ Jesus. Christian Devotions & Quick Studies is especially good to share with a lost friend, someone needing encouragement or someone who does not have access to the internet. My books are sold near the cost to produce as I am only interested in sharing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus to as many as I can before I go to Heaven.
For a limited time, Jim’s Books are available at a special discounted price. Click one of the links below to download or purchase.
- Christian Devotions & Quick Studies – Hardback, Paperback, eBook
- Thanksgiving Day – Religious to Secular – Paperback, eBook
- Thank You Lord for Saving My Soul – coming winter 2014 (sorry for the delay)
Other Christian Articles by Jim Davenport:
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Great post Jim … I love all I am learning about Old Testament history through this series and how it applies to America’s current dilemmas. No doubt boasting is more often than not a symptom of personal pride rather than glorifying God. As Hezekiah knew … as Sennacherib learned … as America must learn … there is only ONE Superpower! All praise, honor and glory to almighty God!
Bernie, I so appreciate the depth of your review of my articles. I have been so busy with our garden that I have neglected my writing … Will return soon to compete the series. May America find that the only way is God’s Way … Lest any man should boast. Abiding in Him, Jim
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