I am getting ready to teach a lesson from the Bible study, “Lord, teach me to pray, for kids” produced by Precept Ministries International. I highly recommend this study for all ages, especially for kids. It is based on the Lord’s Model Prayer found in the Sermon on the Mount. This particular lesson is about trusting in the character of God. Jeremiah tells us that a man who trusts in himself (or others) is like a bush, planted in the desert, on top of a rock, covered in salt. What a great picture of doom. A man who trusts in himself has no hope. In contrast, a man who trusts in the character of God is like a tree planted next to a river. He will prosper. This is a situation that King Hezekiah faces in Isaiah 36. The Assyrians have attacked and defeated the Northern Kingdom in Israel. Now, they have their eyes set on the Southern Kingdom where Hezekiah reigns as king. The Assyrians send out leaders to persuade the people of the Southern Kingdom not to resist. King Hezekiah has to make a choice. Is he going to trust in himself, in others kingdoms as allies, or, is he going to trust in the Lord. His life is on the line. The lives of his people are on the line. What is he going to do? Let’s find out.
I. The enemy is deceptive
The enemies of the children of Israel are the enemies of God. That was the case during the days of King Hezekiah and it is the same today. These enemies have aligned with God’s eternal enemy, the father of lies. This enemy is known as Satan. He only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. This is what the Assyrians have come to do to the children of Israel. But, the enemy is tactical.
“Behold, you rely on the staff of this crushed reed, even on Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who rely on him. (Isaiah 36:6)
The enemy begins with giving good advice, but, his motives are impure. He encourages the children of Israel not to trust in other nations to help them. This is actually good advice because the other nations cannot rescue them.
8 “Now therefore, come make a bargain with my master the king of Assyria, and I will give you two thousand horses, if you are able on your part to set riders on them.
9 “How then can you repulse one official of the least of my master’s servants and rely on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? (Isaiah 36)
The enemy claims to want to help the children of Israel sure up their forces so that they can defeat the Egyptians. This is a classic tactic of bait and switch. The promises get the attention on a common enemy so that you will not see the real desire of the enemy at hand. Then, the enemy takes the deception even further.
“Have I now come up without the LORD’S approval against this land to destroy it? The LORD said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’ “”‘ (Isaiah 36:10)
This is the classic tactic of “God told me to do this”, even though the actions are contrary to the character of God. Everything that the enemy is attempting here is to get the children of Israel’s focus off of the Lord so that they will not trust Him. The enemy we face today uses the same tactics. He is deceptive and he is very good at what he does. These same tactics are used today. He begins with a half truth with hidden motives. He then tries the bait and switch tactics of a common enemy. He then moves to the “God told me” argument. This almost sounds like American politics of today, but I digress.
II. The enemy does not respect the Lord
The enemy tried the “God told me to do it” argument and within a few minutes, he actually disrespects God openly.
13 Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in Judean and said, “Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria.
14 “Thus says the king, ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you;
15 nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, “The LORD will surely deliver us, this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” (Isaiah 36)
The enemy boldly proclaims that the Lord will not be able to rescue the children of Israel. He wants the people to fall for his deceptive plan, but, in the discussion, he actually tips his hand to what his plans are.
But Rabshakeh said, “Has my master sent me only to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, doomed to eat their own dung and drink their own urine with you?” (Isaiah 36:12)
The enemy never planned to do anything positive for the children of Israel. He only came to steal, kill, and destroy and is using the tactics of the father of lies. Realizing his previous mistake, he tries the bait and switch tactic again.
16 ‘Do not listen to Hezekiah,’ for thus says the king of Assyria, ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me, and eat each of his vine and each of his fig tree and drink each of the waters of his own cistern,
17 until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards. (Isaiah 36)
Again, in trying to deceive the people, he tips his hand again. Not only is the enemy going to make life miserable for the children of Israel, he plans on taking them captive as slaves to his land. The enemy casts one more insult in the direction of God before ending the talks with King Hezekiah’s delegates.
‘Beware that Hezekiah does not mislead you, saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? (Isaiah 36:18)
The enemy has the nerve to compare the Creator of the universe to the petty gods of the pagans. This is how the enemy really feels about God and the people of God. What is King Hezekiah going to do? Is he going to trust in himself? Is he going to trust in the Egyptians? Is he going to trust the enemy? Let’s find out in Isaiah 37.
III. The enemy is destroyed
The choice was already made. King Hezekiah trusted in the Lord. He was afraid of the enemy and the threat that the enemy posed but, he ran to the Lord.
And when King Hezekiah heard it, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth and entered the house of the LORD. (Isaiah 37:1)
Not only did King Hezekiah run to the Lord’s open arms, but, he also encouraged his people to seek the Lord’s deliverance.
2 Then he sent Eliakim who was over the household with Shebna the scribe and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz.
3 They said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah, ‘This day is a day of distress, rebuke and rejection; for children have come to birth, and there is no strength to deliver.
4 ‘Perhaps the LORD your God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard. Therefore, offer a prayer for the remnant that is left.’ ”
5 So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. (Isaiah 37)
The Lord promises to hear His people and answer in their time of need. The Lord is a strong tower in whom we can run and seek refuge. King Hezekiah understood this and he challenged his people to follow him to the safety of the Lord.
6 Isaiah said to them, “Thus you shall say to your master, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me.
7 “Behold, I will put a spirit in him so that he will hear a rumor and return to his own land. And I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.””‘ (Isaiah 37)
The Lord answers and He promises that King Hezekiah and the people will not even have to fight against the enemy. The Lord was going to go to battle for them. This was the exact same thing that the Lord told to King Jehoshaphat. God is always faithful and we can trust Him no matter what the circumstances of life bring our way.
36 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 .
37 So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and returned home and lived at Nineveh.
38 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. (Isaiah 37)
The children of Israel did not have to lift a finger against the enemy. God delivered them just like He promised. All they had to do was trust Him.
What is the enemy lying to you about so that you will not trust in the Lord? How is he using his above mentioned tactics to distract you? Please do not fall for his evil ways. Do not run away from your strong tower. Take refuge in the Lord because He will protect you. Run to Him. Stay with Him. Trust Him and watch Him work in a mighty way. May the Lord help us keep our focus on Him and on Him alone.