Today: [Isaiah 36] Who Do You Think You Are? In chapter 36 of Isaiah the emissaries of Assyria come up to the besieged city of Jerusalem to mock their faith in God. Hezekiah is ill, the city is surrounded and there is no deliverance coming out of Egypt or Ethiopia. Rabshaketh of Assyria taunts the faith that the people have in God and points to the destruction of other nations around them. “Who do you think you are…” is the taunt that the enemy brings against you when you dare to put your trust in God. There will be times that circumstances and even people will taunt you and mock your faith. What you do next will determine whether deliverance comes or whether you will be plowed under by the assault of the enemy.
[Isa 36:1-22 KJV] 1 Now it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, [that] Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the defenced cities of Judah, and took them. 2 And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto king Hezekiah with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field. 3 Then came forth unto him Eliakim, Hilkiah’s son, which was over the house, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, Asaph’s son, the recorder. 4 And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence [is] this wherein thou trustest? 5 I say, [sayest thou], (but [they are but] vain words) [I have] counsel and strength for war: now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? 6 Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so [is] Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. 7 But if thou say to me, We trust in the LORD our God: [is it] not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and said to Judah and to Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar? 8 Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them. 9 How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?
In chapter 36 of Isaiah we find the beginning account of the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem. Sennacherib of Assyria had invaded Judah, taking all the defensed cities and finally surrounds Jerusalem itself. In the midst of this Isaiah is prophesying the indignation of the Lord against Assyria and the consolation of Jerusalem by a supernatural deliverance by the hand of God. When the siege is set in place Sennacherib sends a representative from a nation he had already taken captive to declare against the city of Jerusalem. Rabshaketh of Lachish is already a captive therefore he has no respect for the defiance of Jerusalem against his lord and conqueror Sennecherib.
The first taunt that Rabshaketh speaks against Jerusalem deals with their false trust in Egypt and Ethiopia. This is a dark stain on the testimony of the people of God. Even though Hezekiah is now king, and has instituted reforms after the brutal reign of Ahaz, there is still strong sentiment that Egypt will save them from Assyria. Their first trust was not in God but in the mercenary strength of the nations to the south that they had already hired by the gold from the temple to defend them. The prophesy of Isaiah was that the Egyptians and Ethiopians would be humiliated by Assyria, stripped naked and force marched into slavery and captivity. History tells us this literally came to pass and also that 16,000 Israelites from the destroyed northern capital of Samaria were likewise humiliated and taken captive with the Egyptians.
Rabshaketh, the spokesman for the king of Assyria knows this narrative well and he also knows as an outsider looking in that the greatest confidence of the people even under Hezekiah’s reign is not the promise of God but the false hope of deliverance from the south. He focuses there and only as an after thought does he go on to add that any hope of divine protection from the Hebrew god would be thwarted just as none of the other gods of other nations had protected them from the might and power of Assyria. Assyria is the ascendant power in the region and despite Ahaz’ efforts to woo the Assyrians by desecrating the temple with images of Assyrian deities it hasn’t convinced Sennecherib not to purpose to overthrow Jerusalem and take the people into captivity.
Have you ever found yourself in a difficult place, not knowing where to turn – only to be mocked by others for even hoping for deliverance? Have you ever cried out to God for salvation in a brutal circumstance only to have a figure in your life like Rabshaketh come to you mocking “who do you think you are?”? Rabshaketh’s nation was already overthrown and he was serving as a vassal to Sennecherib, king of Assyria. Sometimes there will be people around you who will have their ego wrapped up in your failure and will challenge your faith in God and your false hope (in their view) of things ever getting better in your situation and circumstances.
In the midst of this you will see that Hezekiah did not come to the wall to answer Rabshaketh. He sent his servants because we know from previous studies that Hezekiah was sick and dying at the time of this attack on Jerusalem. The enemy will not attack you at an opportune time. He will come at you when you are weak, and tired and sick. He will wait till you are discouraged and already struggling to assault your life for a final victory. Ignoring Rabshaketh was not an option. The army had surrounded Jerusalem. Something had to be done. The mockery of Sennecherib and his servant Rabshaketh had to be answered and likewise there will be times that you will be assaulted, challenged and mocked at a time when you are weakest – and pretending their isn’t a problem will not be an option.
10 And am I now come up without the LORD against this land to destroy it? the LORD said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it. 11 Then said Eliakim and Shebna and Joah unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, unto thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand [it]: and speak not to us in the Jews’ language, in the ears of the people that [are] on the wall. 12 But Rabshakeh said, Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? [hath he] not [sent me] to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? 13 Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria. 14 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you. 15 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. 16 Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make [an agreement] with me [by] a present, and come out to me: and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern; 17 Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. 18 [Beware] lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The LORD will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? 19 Where [are] the gods of Hamath and Arphad? where [are] the gods of Sepharvaim? and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand? 20 Who [are they] among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand? 21 But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not. 22 Then came Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, that [was] over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah with [their] clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.
Rabshaketh continues to speak for Sennecherib claiming that trusting in the Hebrew god was folly because (he claims) the Hebrew god had commanded him to besiege Jerusalem and destroy it. In other words Sennecherib had been listening to Isaiah’s prophesy when all of Jerusalem and Judah had been ignoring him as a raving, half naked prophet. Make no mistake, when you get a prophetic word from an anointed prophet that is a prelude to war. Paul told Timothy in 1 Tim. 1:18 to war a good warfare with the prophecies spoken over him. Paul understood something about what happens when the word of the Lord comes. Lukewarm teachers suggest to us just to put the word on the shelves of unbelief in our lives and wait to see what happens. That isn’t what the enemy does. Remember that Assyria is a type of the anti-Christ. The spirit of anti-Christ will be listening to the prophetic words over your life even if you don’t and he will use those promises against you to mock you and tell you they will never come to pass.
Rabshaketh also spoke in the language of the common people. The servants of Hezekiah tried to stop him but he refused and spoken even louder in very vulgar terms describing the suffering that was planned for the people. When the enemy assaults your life be sure he will send in someone who speaks your language and knows your personal history. They will know how to push your buttons and convince you in very familiar terms that there is no hope of things ever getting better. They will point to other people and Rabshaketh pointed to other nations that have fallen. He will in effect say to you “who do you think you are” and “are you thinking you are any better than your neighbors who have suffered as well?” This is why Hebrews 12 says that we are to “look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…” What about those who believed God and didn’t receive their answer? Hebrews 11:39 answers this:
[Heb 11:39 KJV] 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
Sometimes people have faith to endure not having received their deliverance. Never mock or denigrate those who have suffered yet stayed faithful to God. However do not let these people and their circumstance tempt you not to believe for something better.
[Heb 11:40 KJV] 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
Our purpose is not to let the patient suffering of others be our example but again (Hebrews 12:1-2) looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, laying aside the weight (of someone else’s testimony who didn’t receive deliverance) and all sin (temptation to unbelief) and run with patience the race knowing that everyone will not win but we have the opportunity to break the tape and see deliverance when we are looking to Jesus and not any other lesser example of endurance and fidelity toward God.
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