Today: [Isaiah 37] How Deliverance Comes. In our chapter today we find Hezekiah is sackcloth and ashes, and the city of Jerusalem about to fall to Sennecherib, king of Assyria. At long last the people are no longer clamoring for a foreign army to come and save them. Every possible avenue of deliverance has been exhausted and come to failure. Only God can save them now. Hezekiah sends word and Isaiah’s response is that God will come to their defense not for their own sake or the sake of the people. The people have no basis on which to expect God to act. They have rejected Him and rejected Isaiah’s words for decades now. Only when they are desperate without any other recourse do they turn to God. Isaiah does not say “I told you so…”. He simply says that for DAVID’S sake the city will be spared. This is how God acts in our life, for “JESUS’ sake”, not for our own piety or righteousness, that deliverance comes to us in our situation just as it does in this ancient narrative.
[Isa 37:1-38 KJV] 1 And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard [it], that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD. 2 And he sent Eliakim, who [was] over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. 3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day [is] a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and [there is] not strength to bring forth. 4 It may be the LORD thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up [thy] prayer for the remnant that is left. 5 So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. 6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. 8 So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish. 9 And he heard say concerning Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, He is come forth to make war with thee. And when he heard [it], he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. 11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, [as] Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which [were] in Telassar? 13 Where [is] the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah?
In the previous chapter Sennecherib, the king of Assyria surrounds the city of Jerusalem and sends his emissary Rabshakeh to demand Hezekiah’s surround in the most severe terms. Hezekiah’s servants bring him word of Sennecherib’s demands and rends his clothes, covering himself with sackcloth in the temple of Solomon. The priests and the elders are likewise in sackcloth and ashes before the Lord and the king. There is no more call for Egypt or Ethiopia. The defensed cities of Judah have fallen. The northern kingdom of Samaria is gone, its inhabitants forced into captivity, never to be heard from in history again from that day to this. The hope that Egypt and Ethiopia would come and save them is completely extinguished. For years now Isaiah has been crying out to warn the people to look to God and not man for their deliverance. From the very first until this day when the city is surrounded without ally the people have marginalized Isaiah’s message and disparaged his words. Now, at last the king, his administration, the priests and the people realize as Isaiah has declared, only God can save them. Hezekiah sends for Isaiah.
Hezekiah sends for Isaiah saying that the nation is exhausted like a woman travailing with child but unable to complete the birth. This is exactly what Isaiah prophesied years before:
[Isa 26:18 KJV] 18 We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen.
Finally when there is no other hope in the faintest degree the people inquire of the Lord. We have seen this in many instances where people and groups who despise the prophetic, who rely on their own strength, who reject the gifts of God – yet when they are reduced to desperation, now are ready to hear what God has to say. Unfortunately from Isaiah’s day till now, human nature is still very much the same. At this point Isaiah does not say “I told you so…” Isaiah doesn’t have any ego that needs to prove how right he was all along. He simply sends word to Hezekiah to fear not. He predicts by the word of the Lord that the king of Assyria will receive word of trouble elsewhere in his kingdom and leave the field of battle to secure his throne back in Assyria.
This is exactly what happens. Sennecherib leaves the siege of Jerusalem in Rabshakeh’s hands and departs. There is here a powerful principle in prayer when you are besieged in your own problems and circumstances. Most situations that you will face in life that cause you to resort to prayer have people involved in them who are part of the problem you are dealing with. Ask God to occupy them elsewhere. Ask God that those who are pressuring you and making your life difficult will be provoked to withdraw their focus on you to deal with other things in their life. This is a powerful prayer that will bring great results in time of need.
14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying, 16 O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest [between] the cherubims, thou [art] the God, [even] thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth. 17 Incline thine ear, O LORD, and hear; open thine eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God. 18 Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, 19 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they [were] no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. 20 Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou [art] the LORD, [even] thou only. 21 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Whereas thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria: 22 This [is] the word which the LORD hath spoken concerning him; The virgin, the daughter of Zion, hath despised thee, [and] laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee. 23 Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted [thy] voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? [even] against the Holy One of Israel. 24 By thy servants hast thou reproached the Lord, and hast said, By the multitude of my chariots am I come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon; and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, [and] the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the height of his border, [and] the forest of his Carmel. 25 I have digged, and drunk water; and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of the besieged places. 26 Hast thou not heard long ago, [how] I have done it; [and] of ancient times, that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste defenced cities [into] ruinous heaps.
Now just because Sennecherib withdraws doesn’t mean there isn’t still a problem to deal with. Rabshakeh is left in charge of Sennecherib’s army with a command to conquer Jerusalem. Rabshakeh realizes that Hezekiah will learn of Sennercheribs withdrawal and sends word to Hezkiah that he still plans to sack the city of Jerusalem. Hezekiah takes Rabshakeh’s letter into the house of God and spreads it before the Lord. It is as though Hezekiah is saying “Lord, you’ve got mail!” He prays a prayer of intercession and declares plainly in verse 20 that God and only God can deliver the people from this terrible circumstance. This at long last is the final surrender to the will of God and the Lordship of God in the situation. For decades the people have compromised, equivocated, negotiated with their enemies, vainly relying on their own ability to save themselves and their own rationalistic idea of how they would avoid the very fate that looms before them now. Finally the put aside every source of false trust and declare plainly that God and God only can save them. Isaiah in response sends word to Isaiah that deliverance will come by God’s hand.
27 Therefore their inhabitants [were] of small power, they were dismayed and confounded: they were [as] the grass of the field, and [as] the green herb, [as] the grass on the housetops, and [as corn] blasted before it be grown up. 28 But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me. 29 Because thy rage against me, and thy tumult, is come up into mine ears, therefore will I put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest. 30 And this [shall be] a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat [this] year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof. 31 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward: 32 For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the LORD of hosts shall do this. 33 Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it. 34 By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the LORD. 35 For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake. 36 Then the angel of the LORD went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they [were] all dead corpses. 37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. 38 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.
Notice in verse 35 that God says He will save the city of David’s sake. David is long taken off the scene but the Lord wants Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem to realize that He isn’t delivering them because they are so spiritual. In fact, they are not. Up to the very last moment the people trusted in other things, other nations, and their own ideas of how to solve their problem. Their attitude was “when all else fails – THEN look to God…” They did not distinguish themselves in this regard. They should have trusted in God first and foremost. This was the message of Isaiah. So yes – deliverance will come, but not for their own sake. This is a lesson for us on the basis of how God answers our own prayers. He doesn’t move in our lives because we are so spiritual, or good, or upstanding. When we pray “in the name of Jesus” we are saying, and acknowledging that God will act to defend us not because of who we are or what we have done. God will in fact act in our lives despite what we could do to earn an intervention by God’s hand. God is moving in our situation based on who Jesus is and what He has done for us, just as the city of Jerusalem was saved not for Hezekiah’s sake or the people’s sake, but for David’s sake.
At the end of the matter we see that Sennacherib is assassinated by his own sons. The angel of the Lord goes out supernaturally and destroys the army, killing 180,000 Assyrians in one night. The siege is lifted and the city is spare. God is no respector of persons. What He did for Hezekiah and ancient Jerusalem, He will do for our nation, our people and for you as an individual. When we finally come to the end of ourselves and realize that God and God only is our trust then the Father will stand up to defend us – not for our sake but for Jesus sake to our benefit and deliverance.
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