This is the beginning. Isaiah 36-37. It is like when you are watching an artist draw, and can only see a bunch of lines and squiggles until a dog or a face suddenly jump out of the image. All the prophesy was beginning to come true. And it was not a pretty picture.
All the cities in Judah, all the strong places for people to run to, all the protection they had, were captured….only Jerusalem was left. And then the Assyrian army marched right up to the conduit of the upper pool (all the little boys ran to the spot afterward and solemnly stood around looking up at the walls…so close).
And the Assyrian commander started taunting. What are you trusting in? Egypt? It’s like a broken stick that is going to stab your hand if you try to lean on it. And it was true. Isaiah said the same thing back in an earlier prophesy (see Isaiah 30-31). Trusting in Egypt was a stupid decision. The enemy shouted it in their native language, for everyone to hear.
He offered them a handsome prize: personal property and abundance in a land of plenty. It sounds strangely like a new promised land…and vaguely like a snake hissing about a garden.
Then the final ultimatum: no other god has been able to save its people. Why should yours?
Hezekiah hears this and lets the world see his dismay: he tears his clothes and wears scratchy rags instead. And he goes to the house of the Lord. What is the first thing I do when the enemy is on my doorstep?
He sent word to Isaiah the prophet: what do we do? Talk to God for us! We’re the last of Israel left…
Isaiah’s response: Do not be afraid.
Jesus was so quick with this response also. He reassures us. God is good!
That’s nothing, God says, just words of young men, silly and inexperienced. I’m going to put a spirit in that conquering king that send him running home. And then he’s going to die in his own land. Not off in glory of a foreign battle. No, close to home.
Imagine the look on that Assyrian commander’s face when he turns around from that speech and realizes that his king is off fighting somewhere else. So he starts writing a letter:
No, you aren’t saved…don’t let that God you trust deceive you! No other gods have stood in our way. They’re all standing in chains.
Hezekiah receives this letter, and he spread it out before the Lord. God, do you see what he’s done now? You’re the God of Hosts – armies! You made everything! And You are on the throne! So do You see what he is comparing you to? Of course the idols failed! But you are God! Save us!
Isaiah got to tell God’s reply:
Israel’s laughing at you. That little girl, she’s shaking her head at you and laughing. Do you know who you are messing with? The Holy One of Israel! You think you’ve done so much with all your battles. Well I determined that a long time ago.
I know when you sit down. I know when you get up. I know your raging against me. So I’m going to put a hook in your nose like for a cow or a slave, and then I will lead you right back where you came from.
Israel would survive, and grow again, and God would keep a remnant, because of His zeal. God would defend the city, not because of their actions, but for His name’s sake, and for the promise He made David. God keeps His promises.
That night, one angel took out 185,000 men. And the king of Assyria packed up and went home. And as he was worshiping his god, his sons killed him. That’s how strong your god is, when he comes up against God, the Holy One of Israel.
I so often forget that this is the God I serve. This is God! He came as a man, shedding His outer glory, to reach our hearts. But He is still God, seeing every action, every breath. And when He steps into the story, there’s nothing we can do against Him.
This is my God, don’t mess!
God, thank You. Thank You that You tell us to not be afraid. You care so much for us. You want us to change, but You step into our worst places and show Your power. Thank You that You are so faithful. We can trust You in everything. And no one can stand in Your way! Not even death!
What songs did Israel sing after this?…
Okay, but more accurately…