CRISIS SITUATIONS PROVIDE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GOD TO VINDICATE HIS PREEMINENCE AND GLORY AS HE RESPONDS TO PRAYERS FOR DELIVERANCE FROM HIS COVENANT PEOPLE
Life is a series of responding to one pressure after another; one crisis situation after another; overcoming one obstacle after another; We are met with intimidation and threats; Satan tries to attack us in a variety of ways; Will we respond in paralyzing fear or turn to the Lord for deliverance?
James 5:16 “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.”
James goes on to use the example of Elijah – praying for no rain and then praying for rain.
[I used to do that when I was very young and scheduled to go out to the ballpark to see the Phillies for my one visit a season.]
Could have very well cited the example of King Hezekiah — here is a model approach you can use in the times of crisis that you face
CRISIS SITUATIONS PROVIDE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR GOD TO VINDICATE HIS PREEMINENCE AND GLORY AS HE RESPONDS TO PRAYERS FOR DELIVERANCE FROM HIS COVENANT PEOPLE
I. (:8-13) PRESSURE OF IMMEDIATE CRISIS –
CHALLENGING THE SUFFICIENCY OF GOD
A. (:8-9) Assyria Under Pressure
1. (:8) King of Assyria Receives Report From Rabshakeh
“Then Rabshakeh returned and found the king of Assyria fighting against Libnah, or he had heard that the king had left Lachish.”
Constable: The Rabshakeh returned to his master, having learned that Hezekiah would not surrender. He found him five miles closer to Jerusalem than Lachish, at Libnah, where he was fighting the Judahites. The message that Tirhakah, King of Ethiopia, was coming to engage him in battle, caused Sennacherib to decide to terminate further campaigns in Palestine and return to his homeland temporarily.
2. (:9a) King of Assyria Hears Rumors Regarding Tirhakah
“When he heard them say concerning Tirhakah king of Cush, ‘He has come out to fight against you,’”
Martin: In 701 Tirhakah was an army commander; he actually did not become king of Cush until 690; but since he was king when Isaiah wrote this account, Isaiah called him the king.
3. (:9b) King of Assyria Applies Pressure to Hezekiah
“and when he heard it he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying,”
Parunak: [vs. 9-10] — Suddenly, Sennacherib is on the defensive. Expecting an Egyptian advance from the south, the prospect of an unsubdued capital on his flank is untenable. He cannot afford to besiege them, and must quickly persuade them to surrender. So he sends messengers. To understand Isaiah’s literary art here, we must recognize that the Hebrew word for “messenger,” מלאך , is the same one often translated “angel,” and in particular forms an inclusio with the מלאך יהוה in v. 36. . . Recall that Rabshakeh’s message had two components: do not trust in Egypt, and do not trust in the Lord. Now, Sennacherib thinks that the Egyptians really are coming against him. So these messengers repeat only the second component of the message, the futility of trust in the Lord.
Most worldly leaders, when faced with pressure; try to apply pressure to someone else they think they can control
B. (:10-13) Hezekiah Under Pressure
1. (:10) Attack on Hezekiah’s Faith
“Thus you shall say to Hezekiah king of Judah, ‘Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive you, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’”
Not pointing here to the futility of trusting in Egypt … but to the futility of trusting in God
“Voice of Truth” song
Provides 3 supporting arguments:
2. (:11) Argument from the Greater to the Lesser – History Lesson
“Behold, you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the lands, destroying them completely. So will you be spared?”
Who do you think you are, O little town of Jerusalem? Far greater nations have already fallen and been destroyed by the ruthless power of mighty Assyria.
Application: Why do you think God is on your side and will deliver you?
3. (:12) Argument from the Impotence of Gods – Religion Lesson
“Did the gods of those nations which my fathers have destroyed deliver them,meven Gozan and Haran and Rezeph and the sons of Eden who were in Telassar?”
Religion is just a crutch; opiate of the masses; nice to have something to prop you up, but when the chips are down, religion is exposed as futile and powerless
Application: Why do you think your God is any better than any of the others and has any power to help you?
4. (:13) Argument from Silence – Arrogance Runs Its Mouth
“Where is the king of Hamath, the king of Arpad, the king of the city of Sepharvaim, and of Hena and Ivvah?”
Application: Why do you think you will have any eternal destiny consistent with God’s promises?
II. (:14-20) PRAYER FOR DIVINE DELIVERANCE –
IN THE CONTEXT OF GOD BEING GLORIFIED
A. (:14-15) Initial Reaction of Turning to the Lord in Prayer
1. Objective Intake of the Facts and the Circumstances – What am I faced with?
“Then Hezekiah took the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it,”
– not emotional
– not cursing and ranting and raving
– quick to hear and slow to speak
– didn’t kill the messengers
2. Worshipful Approach to the Presence of God
“and he went up to the house of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD.”
Is this what we do with our problems as our first reaction?
Do we interact with the Lord in a spirit of worship and humility?
Do we have confidence in the Lord’s control over all the details of our life?
Do we have confidence in the access we have into the Lord’s presence and His willingness to hear our concerns?
3. Intercessory Appeal in Fervent Prayer
“And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD saying,”
Could be a sermon in itself –
not some ecstatic utterances but using language to verbalize intelligent thoughts
B. (:16) Humble, Reverent Address of Faith –
Recognizing God for Who He Is in His Awesomeness
1. Omnipotent God — “O LORD of hosts,”
Hezekiah under pressure from the hosts of Assyria outside the gate … but the Lord commands much more impressive hosts
2. Covenant Keeping God — “the God of Israel,”
Keeps all of His promises
Special place in His heart for His elect
3. Majestic God — “who art enthroned above the cherubim,”
Yet available and approachable
4. Sovereign God — “Thou art the God, Thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.”
Make no mistake about who is in charge
Exclusive rule – this is a classic confrontation between the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the earth
5. Creator God — “Thou hast made heaven and earth.”
A1 Lord Almighty of hosts: the Lord in his personal omnipotence
B1 God of Israel: his chosen link with his people
C Enthroned between the cherubim: sovereignty, personal presence, availability
B2 God over all: his sway over all the earth
A2 You have made heaven and earth: omnipotence of government as Creator
The cherubim, as Ezekiel saw them, represent all created excellence (the lion represents wild beasts; the ox, domestic beasts; the eagle, birds; and man, the greatest of all creatures). Thus enthroned over all, the Lord was nevertheless present at the centre of his people’s life. The Old Testament doctrine of God the Creator is fourfold. The God who made all, preserves all in being, controls all in operation and guides all to their appointed destiny. The appeal to the Creator in prayer is , therefore, not a simple appeal to greatness or to abstract power but specifically to the God who actually rules and determines all.
Parunak: Hezekiah’s prayer is an alternation: Statement, request, statement, request. His first statement describes the Lord, the only true God, while his second describes Sennacherib and the false gods that he has conquered. . . Note that Hezekiah does not start with his problem. He starts by focusing his mind on his great God. This is a central principle for us. In time of trouble, our natural tendency is to focus on our problem and try to solve it. Hezekiah’s example urges us, in any time of trouble, to focus our attention on the Lord and meditate on his attributes.
C. (:17) Call to Attention in Light of the Gravity of the Blasphemy
“Incline Thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open Thine eyes, O LORD, and see; and listen to all the words of Sennacherib, who sent them to reproach the living God.”
D. (:18-20) Plea for Deliverance in Contradistinction to Devastation
1. (:18-19) Devastation of Other Nations – Trusted in Idols
“Truly, O LORD, the kings of Assyria have devastated all the countries and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them.”
2. (:20) Deliverance Requested – Trusting in the One True God
a. Request for Deliverance
“And now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand”
b. Reason = Glory of God
“that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that Thou alone, LORD, art God.”
III. (:21-35) PREEMINENCE OF THE LORD VINDICATED –
IN DEMONSTRATING HIS SOVEREIGN CONTROL
A. (:21-22a) The Lord Always Has the Final Word
“Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent word to Hezekiah, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, Because you have prayed to Me about Sennacherib king of Assyria, this is the word that the LORD has spoken against him:’”
B. (:22b-25) The Lord Always Takes Blasphemy and Reproach Personally
1. (:22b) Mocking God’s People is a Serious Offense
“She has despised you and mocked you, The virgin daughter of Zion;
She has shaken her head behind you, The daughter of Jerusalem!”
2. (:23) Because It Constitutes Blasphemy and Reproach Against God
“Whom have you reproached and blasphemed?
And against whom have you raised your voice, And haughtily lifted up your eyes? Against the Holy One of Israel!”
3. (:24-25) With the Unrestrained Arrogance of Boastful Pride
“Through your servants you have reproached the Lord, And you have said, ‘With my many chariots I came up to the heights of the mountains, To the remotest parts of Lebanon; And I cut down its tall cedars and its choice cypresses. And I will go to its highest peak, its thickest forest. I dug wells and drank waters, And with the sole of my feet I dried up All the rivers of Egypt.’”
Grogan: It looks as though the course of his boasting follows that of his conquering marches. The emphasis here is on the king’s ability to overcome any natural obstacle that lay in his path (v. 24). The mountainous, tree-covered terrain of Lebanon could not hold him back, neither could the waterless lands of southern Palestine and Sinai (v.25). The streams of the Nile Delta were equally powerless to stop him, for he had but to tread on them. This final claim, of course, went beyond the facts but was perhaps made in anticipation of a great victory over Tirhakah (cf. v.9).
C. (:26-29) The Lord Always is In Control
1. (:26-27) Your Former Victories Were Controlled by the Lord
“Have you not heard? Long ago I did it, From ancient times I planned it. Now I have brought it to pass, That you should turn fortified cities into ruinous heaps. Therefore their inhabitants were short of strength, They were dismayed and put to shame; They were as the vegetation of the field and as the green herb, As grass on the housetops is scorched before it is grown up.”
Motyer: The threefold simile of verse 27 exposes how the Assyrians thought of the world and its peoples: they exist for their benefit (plants in the field); they are totally incapable of offering resistance (tender green shoots); and are transient, insubstantial, of no ultimate significance (like grass sprouting on the roof).
2. (:28) Everything About You Is Known and Controlled by the Lord
“But I know your sitting down, And your going out and your coming in, And your raging against Me.”
3. (:29) Your Future Submission Has Already Been Determined by the Lord
“Because of your raging against Me, And because your arrogance has come up to My ears, Therefore I will put My hook in your nose, And My bridle in your lips, And I will turn you back by the way which you came.”
D. (:30-35) The Lord Always Keeps His Promises to His Elect
1. (:30-32) Provision for the Surviving Remnant – Another Sign
“Then this shall be the sign for you: you shall eat this year what grows of itself, in the second year what springs from the same, and in the third year sow, reap, plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and out of Mount Zion survivors. The zeal of the LORD of hosts shall perform this.”
Constable: [vs. 30] — For two years normal agriculture would be impossible around Jerusalem, but God would cause the land to produce enough to sustain the inhabitants. Probably the two years of interruption resulted from Assyrian military activity in the region. Fruitfulness has always been God’s blessing on those who trust Him. Then the third year, planting and harvesting as usual would resume. It was particularly unusual that the Judahites would be able to plant vineyards and eat their fruit shortly after that because it often took several years for new grapevines to yield a crop.
2. (:33-35) Protection for the Davidic Dynasty
“Therefore, thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, ‘He shall not come to this city, or shoot an arrow there; neither shall he come before it with a shield, nor throw up a mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come to this city,’ declares the LORD. ‘For I will defend this city to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’”
A1 Fact: prayer answered in the departure of Assyria (22)
B1 The Sovereign defied (23-25)
B2 The Sovereign in action (26-29)
B3 Sovereign faithfulness (30-32)
A2 Explanation: the Lord’s defence of the city (33-35)
IV. (:36-38) POWER OF THE LORD ON DISPLAY –
IN THE FINAL RESOLUTION
A. (:36) Power of the Lord in Eliminating the Assyrian Crisis
“Then the angel of the LORD went out, and struck 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians;
and when men arose early in the morning, behold, all of these were dead.”
Constable: [vs. 36] — The Lord Himself slew 185,000 of the Assyrian soldiers in one night. Evidently this was an act of the angel of the Lord similar to the slaying of the Egyptian firstborn before the Exodus (Exod. 12:12-13, 23; cf. 2 Sam. 24:1, 15-16; Luke 12:20). The angel of the Lord may have been the preincarnate Christ, since He is identified as the Lord (Yahweh), and yet distinct from the Lord, in various Old Testament passages. Some scholars believe the angel of the Lord was an angel whom the Lord sent who was intimately identified with the Lord in the Old Testament because he represented the Lord and carried out His will precisely. Probably the phrase designates the preincarnate Christ in some places and simply an angelic representative of Yahweh in others. The verb “to smite” implies smiting with a disease. Sennacherib had sent a messenger to intimidate Hezekiah’s people and, ironically, Yahweh responded by sending a messenger to destroy Sennacherib’s army. George Robinson reproduced Lord Byron’s famous poem, “The Destruction of Sennacherib.”
B. (:37-38) Power of the Lord in Executing the Arrogant Challenger
“So Sennacherib, king of Assyria, departed and returned home, and lived at Nineveh. And it came about as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons killed him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son became king in his place.”
Parunak: [vs. 37] — God fulfills his promise, The chronology is foreshortened; Sennacherib would not die for 20 more years, but the end was determined.
Constable: [vs. 38] — Ironically, it was while worshipping in the temple of his idol in Nineveh that God effected Sennacherib’s assassination, whereas it was while worshipping the true God in His temple in Jerusalem, that God moved to spare Hezekiah’s life. Hezekiah went into the house of his God and got help, but Sennacherib went into the house of his god and got killed. The Babylonian royal chronicles recorded the assassination of Sennacherib and the accession of Esarhaddon in 681 B.C.
Motyer: Thus Isaiah brings together in this incident five major divine manifestations: the word (31:2), the Spirit (37:7), the hand (31:3), the arm (30:30) and the angel.