Grace and Wrath Podcast
Ep. 151: King of Assyria
The Assyrian army invaded Judah when Hezekiah was king. They had already conquered Israel a few years before.
When they arrived at Jerusalem, the commander of the Assyrian army called for a meeting with Jewish officials outside the walls of the city. He said, “Sennacherib, the great king of Assyria, sends this message to Hezekiah. ‘Why do you resist my great army? Do you think other nations will come and help you? Listen. They won’t come! They’re afraid of us.”
“Oh, are you trusting in the Lord your God? Why? It was your God who sent us here to destroy you!”
While the commander was talking, the people of Jerusalem were on the city walls – listening to everything he was saying. He spoke in Hebrew and was loud enough so they could hear. The Jewish officials said, “Please, speak in your language. We understand it.”
The commander laughed and yelled louder, “No! This message is not only for your king. It’s also for the common men. They’re the ones who’ll suffer when we crush you.”
He pointed to the men on the wall. “Listen to me! Don’t trust your king. Don’t trust your God! Trust Sennacherib, the great king of Assyria! He’ll take good care of you. We’ve conquered many nations and their gods weren’t able to protect them. Your God can’t stop the great king of Assyria!”
When King Hezekiah heard this report, he ripped his clothes and went into the Temple to pray. He sent messengers to the prophet Isaiah asking him to pray for God’s people.
Isaiah sent word to Hezekiah. “I have a message from the Lord. He says, ‘I’ve heard this man. Don’t be afraid of him. I’ll whisper into his ear and he’ll rush back to his country. Once he gets there, someone will kill him.’ ”
Suddenly, the commander heard of trouble back in Assyria. He knew his king needed him. The entire army left.
Some time later, Sennacherib moved his army toward Jerusalem once again. Along the way, he sent a message to Hezekiah. “Did your God tell you that you’re safe from me? Don’t believe him! I’ve conquered the gods of many other nations, and burned them with fire. They couldn’t protect their nations. What makes you think your God will protect you?”
Hezekiah took the letter to the Temple. He spread it out before God and prayed. Isaiah sent a message to Hezekiah, but it wasn’t addressed to him. It was God’s answer to Sennacherib.
It said, “Who do you think you are? I’ve told Jerusalem to spit on you. Who do you think you’re mocking? I’m the one who put you in power so you could judge other nations. Now are you so arrogant that you yell at me? Here’s what I’m going to do to you. I’m going to put a hook in your nose, and a bit in your mouth. Then I’ll take you back to the barn from which you came!”
“Hezekiah, don’t worry about Sennacherib. Not one arrow will hit the walls of Jerusalem. Before his army gets here, they’ll turn around and go back to their country. I’m your defense! I’ll fight this battle and save the city.”
That evening the army of Assyria set up camp. The sun went down and men sat around the campfires until it was time to sleep. When the sun arose the next morning, 185,000 soldiers were dead where they had slept. The king of Assyria had an army of dead men!
He quickly returned home to Nineveh and knelt down before his idol. Two of his sons came in and killed him. Sennacherib, the great king of Assyria, was dead, and Jerusalem was at peace.