ISAIAH - Chapters 36 & 37 - The Defeat of the Assyrians Print E-mail


ISAIAH – Chapters 36 & 37 – The Defeat of the Assyrians

Tuesday, Morning Bible Study - June 3, 2014, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom


Chapters 36-39 form the conclusion of the first part of the book of Isaiah.  These chapters contain narratives of three important historical events, each of which illustrates the commanding influence exercised by Isaiah in the reign of Hezekiah, King of Judah.


This section which tells of Sennacherib’s attack on Judah in 701 B.C. is identical with 2 Kg. 18: 13-19; 37, except that verses 14-16 of 2 Kg. 18 are omitted.   Sennacherib’s great army was destroyed by God through the ministry of Isaiah and Hezekiah’s faith in God.


In the Book of Isaiah, the emphasis rests more on the prophet and his words from God than on the interplay of historical events.  It is our quest as we journey through the Book of Isaiah to hear and see the Word of God as it speaks to us in present truth.  We glean the parallels with the present day conflicts in the world which continue to place Israel in center stage.  The battle continues to rage between God and the arrogant forces who blatantly challenge the Lord.


Isaiah’s ministry and writings are a panoramic, prophetic picture of the life and ministry of the Messiah, the Servant of Jehovah, the redemptive work of the Cross,  and the glory of the gospel church.  Isaiah saw it all and wrote of it.


Isaiah was the Lord’s prophet to Hezekiah and Manasseh.  Isaiah had a long ministry to Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father, grand-father, etc.   The name of Isaiah signifies “the salvation of Jehovah”.  He was man of social position in Jerusalem.  His position as adviser to King Hezekiah was that of a statesman.  Through his prophetic Office, he had tremendous influence for good in national affairs.  Israel’s history is a parade of men of God who were instruments of His-story.


Chapters 36-39 are considered the middle part of the Book of Isaiah.  The first part, 1`-35, contains prophecies of warning and judgment. The last part, 40-66, contains prophecies of comfort and salvation.  In the first part, the prophet spoke from the standpoint of his own lifetime, when Assyria was invading the land of Israel and was the great foe to be feared.  In the last part, he speaks from a stand point in the midst of Babylonian exile and on the eve of the return from exile--- more than 150 years beyond his own day.


The middle part of the book, to which we have now come is considered a historical section, but forms a connecting link between the two separate prophetic sections.  It contains the record of two events that occurred during Isaiah’s ministry.  One of these events delivered Judah from the peril of the Assyrian invasions and the defeat of Assyria; it also marks the close of the prophet’s public ministry. 


The other event brought Babylon upon the scene and led to Isaiah’s prediction of the Babylonian exile and the private ministry of his later years.  The first part looks backward to the first part of the book, and the other event looks forward to the last part.


The overthrow of the Assyrian army here in Isa. 36-37 is one of the most astounding miracles of the Old Testament.


Chapters 36-39 tell how God gave King Hezekiah victory over Assyria, but the nation never fully recovered.  Assyria was defeated by the Egyptians who later fell to Babylon, who defeated Judah in 586 B.C.


Chapter 36 begins with Rab-sha-keh, commander and chief of Sen-nech-e-rib blatantly challenging the Lord. He demands the unconditional surrender of Judah.  Rabshakeh met with Hezekiah’s delegation, and in its presence taunted Judah for trust in Egypt.


36:2 “The King of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem unto King Hezekiah with a great army.  He stood by the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller’s field.”


Samaria (now the West Bank) had been destroyed and the 10 tribes taken into Assyrian captivity.  All the cities had been taken except Jerusalem which God delivered supernaturally.  Now the Assyrian has come for Jerusalem.  --- The agenda has not changed in the 21st century.  The Assyrian’s are still demanding Jerusalem.


Eliakim and Shebna were sent out of the city to meet with the Assyrians.  Rabshakeh first met these three representatives.  He taunted them with their weakness, desiring to bully them into submission by telling them that it was useless to trust in Egypt for help; moreover, that it was useless for them to trust in God, because they were there by his commission.


Hezekiah had rebelled against the king of Assyria by refusing to pay the tribute imposed upon Judah in the days of Ahaz.  He had also trusted in Egypt for help against the Assyrians but that country could not help him.


36:14-20:  “Thus says the king (Sennecherib), “let not Hezekiah deceive you; for he shall not be able to deliver you.  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.  Hearken not to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria, ‘Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me; and eat every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and  drink every one the waters of his own cistern…Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The Lord will deliver us.  Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?  Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad?  Where are the gods of Sepharvaim?  Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?  They held their peace, and did not answer him a word; for the king’s commandment was saying, do not answer him.”


  The deputation from Judah attempted to persuade him to speak in Aramaic, as they were afraid that the Jews, hearing such words in their own language, would be filled with panic.  But Rabshakeh immediately seized upon the situation and spoke unto the people in their own language.  He warned them not to trust in Hezekiah, promising them plenty in another land, and declaring to them that God was unable to deliver them.


The loyalty of the people is manifest in the fact that they remained silent.


The whole scenario pictures Satan’s assault against the integrity of the Word of King Jesus and the church of God, telling the church that she will die of famine and thirst, promising a better life under his dominion in his kingdom.  He invites to the “good life”, but his real intent is slavery! 


In such a time of testing, only the real prophet sent from God (the indwelling Christ of Col. 1:27) can speak the Word of Life which will bring the demise of such accusation and assault!


36:20-22:  “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?  But they held their peace, and did not answer him a word; for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not.  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.”


These fellows just challenged the LORD!


37:1:  “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.”


Hezekiah laid the matter before the Lord in the Temple, and sent forth a delegation to Isaiah the prophet for counsel and prayer.


37:2-5: “Hezekiah sent Eliakim, Shebna, and the elders of the priests unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. They said unto him, thus says 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. It may be the Lord your God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master has sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the Lord your God has heard, wherefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left. So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah.”


We may here consider that Hezekiah first sent the ambassadors of peace to the Assyrians, who insulted them; they came back with rent clothes.  Here he sent two men with elders in sackcloth to Isaiah the prophet.  This he should have done first instead of last.  Too often God is put last, in trouble or blessing.  Men generally try everything else before they trust God for help.


Hezekiah’s faith was wavering at this time when he said, “It may be the Lord your God will hear the words of Rabshakeh…”  Anyone can declare it may be, but divine faith declares it is done, or it will be done.  In this case god had already planned to fight for Judah and deliver the city, so the accomplishment did not necessarily depend upon the faith of the people.


37:6-7: “Isaiah said unto them, thus shall you say unto your master, thus says the Lord, do not be afraid of the words that you have heard, wherewith the king of Assyria has blasphemed me.  Behold, I will send a blast upon him and he shall hear a rumor, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.”


This is the Word of the Lord.  Hezekiah can now act on the sure word of the Lord.   The blast was the sending of an angel from heaven with a sword---an angel who killed 185,000 men of war in one night, thus causing the king of Assyria to give up plans for a siege of Jerusalem and to return to his own land where he was killed by his own sons.


The rumor he heard was about King Tirhakah of Ethiopia marching to fight him (8-13). Sennacherib dispatched another intimidating threat to Hezekiah.  The king spread it before the Lord in the temple and prayed.


37:14-20: “Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; Hezekiah went up unto the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.  Hezekiah prayed saying, O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, who dwells between the cherubims, you are the God, even you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.  Incline your ear, O Lord and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which has sent to reproach the living God.  Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries.  They have cast their gods into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of man’s hands, wood and stone; therefore they have destroyed them.  Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you are the Lord, even you only.”


Hezekiah addressed the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel which was customary in the Old Testament; however in the New Covenant, we are commanded to address God in the name of Jesus Christ.


Hezekiah’s prayer was characterized by a great simplicity of faith which recognized the throne of God, declared the immediate peril threatening the people, and asked for a deliverance which would vindicate the honor and the Name of Jehovah. 


The kings of Assyria were ignorant of the fact that the God of Israel was not an idol like the gods of other nations.  Had they know that He was a living God; perhaps they would have not acted in such a haughty manner.


The Lord granted Hezekiah a second assurance through Isaiah.  The God-defying monarch would be crushed.  Isaiah’s second and fuller message to Hezekiah declared that the sin of Sennacherib was blasphemy against the Holy One of Israel, and forgetful of the fact that he, too, in all his enterprises, was within the sphere of Jehovah’s government and power.  His judgment was imminent, and his boastings vain.


37: 21-35: read


The promise was subsequently fulfilled.


37: 36-38: “Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians 185,000.  When they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.  Sennacherib, king of Assyria departed, went, returned and dwelt in Nineveh.  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.”


According to 2 Chr. 32:21, the slain ones were the mighty men, the captains and the leaders of the army of Assyria. 


“Nisroch” means great eagle and was an eagle-headed human figure---the same as the god Asshur, the chief Assyrian god.  The eagle was worshipped by the ancient Persians and Arabs.


The sons fled to Armenia and became the heads of two celebrated families.


This great miracle which was a direct act of God through the Word of God was the capstone of Isaiah’s repeated oracles against Assyria.


Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries, Inc.

Scripture from K.J.V. – I entered into the labors of Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible and The International Bible Commentary
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