“Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria, ‘On what are you trusting, that you endure the siege in Jerusalem? Is not Hezekiah misleading you, that he may give you over to die by famine and by thirst, when he tells you, “The LORD our God will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria”? Has not this same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, “Before one altar you shall worship, and on it you shall burn your sacrifices”? Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands at all able to deliver their lands out of my hand? Who among all the gods of those nations that my fathers devoted to destruction was able to deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand? Now, therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!’”
2 Chronicles 32:10-15
The inhabitants of Jerusalem are in a fragile state. Under their new king, Hezekiah, the city has been purged of idolatry, temple worship has been restored, the Passover has been reinstated, and all-out revival has taken place. Under the new king, peace has been restored to the unstable kingdom of Judah. But temptation masses on its borders. The rekindled faith of the Israelites, in all its newness and infancy, is entering into a moment of intense heat and temptation. Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, has infiltrated Judah and is rapidly approaching the royal city of Jerusalem, sending a messenger ahead of him to intimidate God’s people.
Sennacherib’s words to the inhabitants of Jerusalem give us incredible insight into how God’s people are tempted and the lies that they are tempted to believe. Sennacherib’s taunts can be divided into four heads, though certainly they could be broken down further.
1. What are you trusting in? (v. 10) The first tactic God’s enemy often uses against the inhabitants of the Holy City is a question. Sennacherib is calling the people to examine their solid ground. He hasn’t made any threats yet, but he is getting the people to look around, to really begin questioning the sufficiency of their defenses. It is often the case with believers that we are tempted to dialogue with our enemies. We usually allow our enemies to talk to us. This was the case in the Garden when the Serpent asked Eve a question (“Did God say…”), and it is true of us. We rarely run, rarely pray, or rarely attack. We often wait for the enemy to speak. What questions do we entertain in our minds about sin? What questions do we feel being posed to us from inside of us, from our old man and our sinful tendencies?
2. Your king is misleading you and is leading you into destruction (v. 11-12) The second tactic the enemy of God’s people uses is often a direct character assault upon the King. It happened in the Garden (“You will not surely die! For God knows that when you eat of the fruit…”), it happened in Jerusalem, and it happens to us. We are so easily tricked into believing that our King really does not have our best interests at heart. We look around at everyone else, at those around us who revel in their sin, and we question if following our King is worth it. We look around and think, “Are there really rivers of life here? Does He really love me? Isn’t He just a Cosmic Killjoy? What I really need is elsewhere, not here.”
3. There’s no refuge for you (v. 13) Then come the feelings of insecurity. Sennacherib points out to the people that no other god has been able to save where he, the king of Assyria, has conquered. No other god can deliver. In essence, we hear this voice, “You are not safe.” By getting us to into a conversation to examine both the ground we stand on and the King in whom we trust, our sin begins to prey on our insecurities. We look around and think, “Other people are giving in all the time. They are being overcome with the evil I know is wrong. Who am I to resist? Can I resist? Should I resist?”
4. Your God is not god, and your King is a liar (v. 14-15) And then the assault takes on its true form: an attack on the fundamental belief of the people. “God is, in fact, a figment of your imagination, a construct of your imagination. And that King you’re hoping in, He has deceived you.”
We face this temptation every day, in every sin. Instead of cutting our sin off before it speaks with the Word of God, with the truths of Christ, we entertain its voice. We are lulled by its questions. We then begin to question our foundation. We look around and see everyone lapping at water we are forbidden to drink, eating of food we are not permitted to touch. And we feel thirsty. We feel hungry. We doubt in the food that is given to us day after day, moment by moment. Our food is none other than Christ Himself (John 6:35), and yet we doubt its sufficiency. We doubt His sufficiency in leading us. Then we get antsy. We look around, frantically believing we aren’t safe. We really aren’t secure. The only logical (seriously sinful and flawed, mind you) conclusion from our delusion is that there is no God, and that Jesus is a liar. He doesn’t even really exist. We are overcome so often by the lies that are preached to us from within. But the truth is certain as the coming dawn.
Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven. And the LORD sent an angel, who cut off all the mighty warriors and commanders and officers in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned with shame of face to his own land. And when he came into the house of his god, some of his own sons struck him down there with the sword. So the LORD saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all his enemies, and he provided for them on every side.- 2 Chronicles 32:20-22
So, what are we trusting in? The God that made all things. He is not misleading us but is leading us to eternal life. In Him we have an everlasting refuge and a certain hope. He is God, and He is truth itself. We should take our cues from Hezekiah who flees to God in prayer. He knows that God alone is able to save. He alone is able to deliver. And He has delivered. He has delivered His people from the kingdom of darkness in Christ. He has given them life. He has given them adoption and favor. He has given them Himself. For all those who are in the Kingdom of God, let us be diligent to flee to God in prayer, praying that He would not lead us unto temptation. But when we find ourselves being lied to, let us flee again to Him by prayer and supplication. He has proven Himself, and He has come for us. He is with us now. And He will come for us shortly. He has, is, and will deliver us from the prince of this world, from the hand of all our enemies. He has, is, and will provide for us on every side.