2 Chronicles 32:9-16 NLTse (9) While King Sennacherib of Assyria was still besieging the town of Lachish, he sent his officers to Jerusalem with this message for Hezekiah and all the people in the city: (10) “This is what King Sennacherib of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you think you can survive my siege of Jerusalem? (11) Hezekiah has said, ‘The LORD our God will rescue us from the king of Assyria.’ Surely Hezekiah is misleading you, sentencing you to death by famine and thirst! (12) Don’t you realize that Hezekiah is the very person who destroyed all the LORD’s shrines and altars? He commanded Judah and Jerusalem to worship only at the altar at the Temple and to offer sacrifices on it alone. (13) “Surely you must realize what I and the other kings of Assyria before me have done to all the people of the earth! Were any of the gods of those nations able to rescue their people from my power? (14) Which of their gods was able to rescue its people from the destructive power of my predecessors? What makes you think your God can rescue you from me? (15) Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you! Don’t let him fool you like this! I say it again–no god of any nation or kingdom has ever yet been able to rescue his people from me or my ancestors. How much less will your God rescue you from my power!” (16) And Sennacherib’s officers further mocked the LORD God and his servant Hezekiah, heaping insult upon insult.
This seems like a rather basic story most Christians are familiar with. Sennacherib wrote a letter to Hezekiah and the people inside Jerusalem. In that letter, Sennacherib claimed his god was stronger than all the other gods in the world.
Sennacherib tried to perform a degree of hocus pocus with words by accusing Hezekiah of destroying all the idols and temples in Judah, and forcing people to worship one God. That was supposed to make people think they were left with only one god to protect them, while Sennacherib carried around and worshiped a number of gods.
There’s no doubt Sennacherib wanted to wage a war of words before he showed up with the bulk of his army. At least he showed some concern for his soldiers.
Imagine for a moment a modern world leader with the same attitude as Sennacherib. Someone who spends the majority of his money on his army. And a leader who for the most part, doesn’t believe in any other god, but those that seem to serve him. The world today has a number of such leaders. North Korea is one of them. They don’t believe in any god outside of their own strength and power. North Korea wants to conquer the world, but not as much as other leaders or nations. Other nations or leaders wage holy wars claiming they are fighting at the direction of their gods. In most cases, they do not tolerate any religion beyond their own beliefs.
When we look at the timing of this story, we know this is the beginning of Jerusalem’s fall. First it was Assyria, followed by Egypt, then Babylon. Talk about a series of symbols Jerusalem had to face. If Jerusalem’s fall is in fact a timeline, or prophetic vision of the last days on earth, this is what we could term, the beginning of the end. When we look at how the first threat Jerusalem faced was self funded, or in a sense, self induced, this gives us something to dwell on.
Ahaz thought he could buy his way out of trouble. Ahaz thought he could buy protection. It worked for a time, but failed in the end. Funding Assyria actually brought the first of a series of threats to Jerusalem’s gates. In basic terms, an over indulgence of self reliance was the first step in Jerusalem’s fall. Of course there were those pagan shrines and idols. Those were one detail to be aware of, but not the end of the story.
If we only concentrate on the physical idols, we miss the entire spiritual message, as well as a number of emotional, and personal lessons. Hezekiah was successful to a degree. His success was enough to grab God’s attention and provide protection. But this event should have been an eye opener. Hezekiah and his consultants should have examined the steps they took, and instead of patting themselves on the back, asked God, or at least themselves, what they missed. You can take only so much out of a person’s life before they rebel. Sennacherib thought Jerusalem reached that point. Once people rebel, you loose control. When something is taken out of their lives, you’d better have something much better to replace it.
People like Hezekiah think they offered something better. Sure they did. They offered Judah the One Living God to worship. But how do you worship Him? Where is He? What does He look like? What are His likes and dislike? That goes way beyond the law. If all you can say is, “keep the law and have faith,” those type of answers get old really fast. It takes a long, lasting relationship with God to teach about it. If all you have is the law and a so called, “faith,” you can’t explain a thing. You’re not serving God, nor do you know Him.
God had to send a message, an easy message by showing how He is capable of saving people against insurmountable odds. That is supposed to kick in what we refer to as the brain. God has to make physical contact before He can establish spirit contact. People have to learn to use their eyes, ears, and mind before their heart will kick in and follow. Jerusalem had to see a physical manifestation of God before they were ready to take their worship to the next level. The first lesson was to know beyond any shadow of doubt, God was there, He was watching, and listening.