Isaiah 36 describes the fulfillment of his previous warnings to Judah. The Assyrian king, Sennacherib came against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. Second Chronicles 32 indicates that King Hezekiah expected Sennacherib to come to Jerusalem. In preparation for the army of Sennacherib, Hezekiah had his men stop up the waters of the fountains so there wouldn’t be any water outside the city for Sennacherib’s men. Hezekiah’s men made weapons. They rebuilt the wall that was broken down and fortified the walls with towers.
Hezekiah set officers set over the people and encouraged them to be strong and courageous. He pointed out to the people that the king of Assyria was only a man and that God would help them fight their battles. This is reminiscent of the Lord encouraging Joshua to be strong and courageous as the second generation who left Egypt were about to enter the Promised Land.
When Sennacherib’s men arrived at the wall, they wanted to know who the people of Jerusalem were trusting. They mocked God and said Hezekiah was misleading them. They said the people of Jerusalem would die of famine and thirst. They mistakenly assumed that Hezekiah had taken away the high places and altars of the Lord their God when in fact Hezekiah had removed the high places and altars of false gods.
The question, “Who we are we trusting in for our deliverance?” is valid for everyone today. Who does Israel trust in for their deliverance from Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, and its other enemies? Their trust shouldn’t be in any country or their own army. Is their trust in Yahweh their Elohim? Is it in Yeshua HaMashiyach (Jesus Christ)? I don’t know.
Sennacherib’s men began to exalt themselves and boast in their victories over those who they had devoted to destruction (charam).[i] This was most likely what they really intended to do in Jerusalem. This word for destruction is the same word used to describe the way the Joshua’s men destroyed Jericho with the exception of Rahab and her family. This is the kind of destruction the Lord has planned for Israel’s enemies in the future.
Hezekiah’s men (Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah) asked Sennacherib’s chief cupbearer not to speak in the language of the Judeans because he didn’t want them to become distracted and discouraged. The chief cupbearer did not listen to them. He continued to speak to everyone who could hear. He began to speak words of making peace to draw them out of the city. He promised to let them eat of their own vines and fig trees, and to let them drink water from their own wells until he would take them to a land like their own, a land of grain and new wine. He reminded them that the gods of other nations did not deliver the nations of Hamath, Arpad, Sepharvaim, Samaria, Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, sons of Eden in Telassar, Hena, and Ivah from the king of Assyria. After hearing this, Hezekiah’s men fearfully reported the words of the chief cupbearer to King Hezekiah.
Hezekiah responded by praying to the Lord for the remnant. The Lord had already heard what Sennacherib told his men to say to the Judeans yet Hezekiah brought all of the information before the Lord. He reminded the Lord of the evil ways of the kings of Assyria. Finally, Hezekiah begged the Lord to deliver his people from destruction so that all the nations would know that Yahweh is the only God. Isaiah sent word to Hezekiah not to fear the Assyrians and said that Sennacherib would fall by the sword in his own land.
Isaiah 37:29 explains what the Lord planned to do to Sennacherib: “Because your rage against Me and your tumult Have come up to My ears, Therefore I will put My hook in your nose And My bridle in your lips, And I will turn you back By the way which you came.” In other words, He’s telling Sennacherib that He’s going to lead him away from Jerusalem and back to Nineveh.
It’s curious to note that similar words are used in Ezekiel 38:4 where the Lord says He will draw the armies of Gog into war. This just shows that the Lord God has, is, and will be in control of the coming and going of Israel’s enemies whether or not they realize it.
Next, the Lord gave Hezekiah a sign that He would do as He promised. First, they would eat self-sown grain (saphiyach = that which grew of itself). This is descriptive of grain that grows on its own in a sabbatical year. The second year, they would eat grain that grew of itself from that which previously came up on its own (shachiys). This is descriptive of a year of Jubilee. After that, they would eat what they had planted themselves. In addition, the remnant that escaped destruction would be fruitful and multiply as well.
The Lord kept His word. That night, the Angel of the Lord killed 185,000 of Sennacherib’s men. Sennacherib returned to Nineveh where his sons, Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with the sword. Esarhaddon, Sennacherib’s son ruled in his place.
Don’t Israel’s enemies behave this way today? Don’t they make threats to destroy the people of Israel? The nation of Israel wants peace with its neighbors yet its enemies want nothing more than to wage destruction against them. Nothing has ever changed.
How will the Lord respond to Israel’s enemies today between now and the time of their final destruction? The Lord has not run out of miracles. He’s trying to turn the hearts of His people to Himself. Pray for the Lord to have mercy on His people around the world. Pray for wisdom for Israel’s leaders. Pray for Israel’s protection. Pray for Israel to seek and cry out for their deliverance and for them to know their Yeshua.