2Kings 18:19-33

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 8, 2002


Hezekiah was a good king.  In fact, we are told:

(2 Ki 18:5 KJV)  He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him.

Hezekiah’s dad, Ahaz, was a wicked man and had brought the nation of Judah to a low point in their history.  But Hezekiah had turned things around.  He had made changes, bringing the nation closer to God.

Part of turning things around involved breaking his allegiance with the Assyrian Empire.  The Assyrians were the big bullies on the block.  They had been in the process of conquering the world, and had just finished conquering the northern kingdom of Israel.  When Hezekiah rebelled against Assyria, they responded by sending their armies towards Judah.

But being a “good king” doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to have problems.

But before the war came the efforts of “diplomacy”. The Assyrian King Sennacherib sent three officials to try and talk King Hezekiah into surrendering to the Assyrians.  The chief negotiator is called Rabshakeh (“chief cupbearer”, which is probably his title, not his name).

The Enemy’s Tactics

:19  What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?

The first part of the message from Sennacherib is aimed at showing the king and the people that they aren’t trusting in things that can be counted on.

:21  thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed…Egypt

When Hezekiah had initially rebelled against the Assyrians, he joined an alliance of rebel nations, including the some of the nations to the north, Phoenicians, the Philistines, and the Egyptians.

Egypt is now the only remaining member of the alliance, beside Judah, which has not been conquered.

:21  on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it

Egypt is characterized as a fragile stick that can’t support a person’s weight.

If you lean too much on it, it will only break underneath you and end up stabbing you in the hand.

Rabshakeh is correct.

At this time, Egypt was not a strong nation, and would be an undependable ally.

If you are trusting in people, you will be hurt.

If you are expecting your friends to always come through for you, you will be disappointed.
If you are expecting people whom you admire to always be there for you or to come up with the help you need, you will be disappointed.

But he’s distorting the truth.

The truth is that though Egypt is an ally, Judah is not trusting in Egypt to deliver them.


#1 - Distortion

The enemy will distort the truth.
We get the feeling that the only things that Satan speaks are lies. He is the “father of lies”.
But much of what Satan uses is the truth, and that’s what’s so difficult in our warfare.
But what he does is to hide a pint of poison in that lake of truth you’ve just swallowed. And the poison is strong enough to kill you.
The enemy will try to discourage you with condemnation:

“You dirty, rotten sinner.  Now God can never use you again.”

The truth:  You are a dirty, rotten sinner.

The lie:  God can’t use you.

The truth is, God forgives sinners.  The truth is, the only people God uses are sinners.

Just because there is some truth in what someone says doesn’t make it right.

:22 is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away

Rabshakeh is saying that Yahweh must be pretty upset because Hezekiah has torn down all the extra altars in the high places.  And that means that Yahweh isn’t going to help the people.

It is true that Hezekiah has torn down the high places.  But this is exactly what God had wanted Hezekiah to do (Deut. 12). 

Hezekiah is the first king to come along since the building of the temple to actually do the very thing that God had wanted, to remove all the extra stuff and keep the worship pure and directed by God.

Yet for those people who weren’t grounded in God’s Word, and didn’t realize that instead of being disobedient, Hezekiah was actually pleasing God, this could sound like a good argument.


The best protection against a lie is the truth.

Stay in God’s Word.
There are all sorts of funny ideas going on out there in the world, and the only way you’re going to be able to sort out the truth from the lies is to keep yourself grounded in the truth.
When you’re a bank teller, you take all kinds of classes, like how to spot counterfeit bills.

You can be taught just what to look for in a genuine $100 bill.

But the best way is for a teller to just get lots of experience handling the real thing.

Whenever we had a question, we’d call the “vault teller”, the person in the bank who handles the most currency.

You can get to the point where you can just tell by the feel of a bill whether it’s real or not.

Spend time being familiar with the real thing, with God’s truth, and you’ll be able to spot the fakes.

:23  I will deliver thee two thousand horses …

He’s taunting the people of Judah saying that even if the king of Assyria GAVE them horses to fight from, they probably wouldn’t have enough trained riders to even ride them.

:25 Am I now come up without the LORD

or, “Do you think I came up against Jerusalem without Yahweh’s blessing?”

:25 The LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.

Now he’s really playing dirty.

He’s trying to say that Yahweh, the God of Judah, actually wanted the Assyrians to come up and fight against Judah.

What makes it really difficult is that it possibly could be true.

After all, God has just had the Assyrian army wipe out the northern kingdom as a judgment against their sins. Why not Judah?


#2 - Deception

God doesn’t always say what people think He says.
“Impressionists” – we have these old answer machine tapes that have famous people answering the phone – but they’re only impressionists, not the real people.
Just because a person says, “God told me …” doesn’t mean it’s true.
Yes, I do believe that God can speak today to us, personally.
But we are to “test the spirits” to see if they be from God (1John 4:1)

1Co 14:29  And let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. (NAS)

If a person wants to claim that God has spoken to them, then they MUST also allow others to “judge” the prophecy, to tell whether or not they agree with it.

Sometimes people use the “God told me” phrase just to get you to stop questioning what they’re doing or saying.  Sometimes they want you to go along with their program, like Rabshakeh.
How do we test prophecy?
The best tool we have is the Word of God, the Bible.  It is the One Source where we know God has spoken.
God will not contradict Himself with what He’s already revealed in Scripture.

(2 Tim 3:16-17 KJV)  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: {17} That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

:26  Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language ...

The Assyrian delegation had been speaking in Hebrew so everyone on the wall of Jerusalem could hear. Hezekiah’s delegation asks them to change to Aramaic, the language of the Syrians, so that the common people wouldn’t understand.

:27  to the men which sit on the wall ...

Rabshakeh wants the common people to hear this threat.

(2 Chr 32:18 NLT)  The Assyrian officials who brought the letters shouted this in the Hebrew language to the people gathered on the walls of the city, trying to terrify them so it would be easier to capture the city.

He’s hoping that the frightened people will pressure the king into surrendering.


#3 - Dread

The enemy’s greatest weapon is fear.
His greatest tactic to keep us from doing the right thing is to make us afraid.
That’s why the Scripture says:
1Pe 5:8  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (AV)

A lion roars and terrorizes its prey into freezing.

Carl Wallenda was one of the greatest tightrope aerialists who ever lived. He once wrote, “For me, to live is being on a tightrope. All the rest is waiting.” In 1968, he commented that the most important thing about walking a tightrope is to be confident you can do it and never to think about failure.
In 1978, Wallenda fell to his death from a tightrope that was seventy-five feet up in the air above the city of San Juan, Puerto Rico. His wife, who is also an aerialist, reported that, for three months prior to attempting the most dangerous feat he’d ever tried, all he talked about was falling. She said that never before in all their career together had Carl ever given a thought to falling. She noted further that he spent all of his time prior to that fatal walk putting up the wire (which he had never bothered with before). He worried about the guide wires and spent endless hours calculating the wind, which he had also never done before. After his death, she said, “I believe the reason Carl fell was because he spent all of his time preparing not to fall, instead of spending time preparing to walk the rope.”

-- H. Edwin Young, "Building Blocks," Southern Baptist Preaching        Today, ed. Allen and Gregory, p. 457.

I think that one of the worst by-products of last September 11 was the fear and anxiety that can paralyze us.  That’s why they call the bad guys “terrorists”.  They create “terror”.
This week will be a week where some of us will again get stirred into thoughts of fear and terror.
The enemy would love to keep us there to keep us from “preparing to walk the rope”
I heard a report on the radio that Laura Bush is encouraging families to have their own memorial times, but to stay away from the TV this week.
I think you could think about spending extra time with the kids.


Answers to fear

God has two words to answer our fears.
1.  Trust
God’s answer to fear is trust.
The Scripture says:

(Isa 12:2 KJV)  Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.

God wants you to learn to put your life in His hands.  You are safe in His hands.  No matter what happens.

2.  Love
God’s other answer to fear is love.

(1 John 4:18 KJV)  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

We have nothing to be afraid of because God loves us.  If you are afraid, run to Jesus.  Let Him love you.

:28-37  The enemy’s taunt to the people

:29  he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand

Again, this is a correct statement. Hezekiah is not able to deliver the people.  But God is.

:30  Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD


#4 – Doubt

The enemy doesn’t want you to trust the Lord

Blondin the tightrope walker.
Jean Francois Gravelet was born February 28, 1824 in Hesdin, France.  When he was five years old he was sent to the École de Gymnase at Lyon, and after six months' training as an acrobat he made his first public appearance as "the Little Wonder."  He developed his skills under the guidance of P.T. Barnum (of Barnum & Bailey Circus).  He became known as the Great Blondin.
In 1859 he announced that he would do the most amazing of all feats, he would cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope 1,100 feet (335 m) long, 160 feet above the water.
On June 30, 1859 the rope was in position and at five o'clock in the afternoon Blondin started the trip that was to make history. Incredulous watchers saw him lower a rope to the Maid of the Mist, pull up a bottle and sit down while he refreshed himself. He began his ascent toward the Canadian shore, paused, steadied the balancing pole and suddenly executed a back somersault. The crowd 'screamed', women 'fainted', those near the rope 'cried' and begged him to come in. When he finally stepped off the rope, he was grabbed by a delirious mob of well wishers who whisked him away to a champagne celebration.
He crossed the Falls several times, each time making it more difficult.  In all, he crossed the rope on a bicycle, walking blindfolded, pushing a wheelbarrow, stopping to cook an omelet in the center, and making the trip with his hands and feet manacled.
His most daring crossing came when he announced that he would carry a man across on his back.  Frankly, only one man trusted him enough to do it.  It would be his manager, Harry Colcord. According to Colcord, the trip was a nightmare. In the un-guyed center section, the pair swayed violently. Blondin was fighting for his life. He broke into a desperate run to reach the first guy rope. When he reached it and steadied himself, the guy broke. Once more the pair swayed alarmingly as Blondin again ran for the next guy. When they reached it Blondin gasped for Colcord to get down. Six times in all Colcord had to dismount while Blondin struggled to gather his strength. In the end Blondin had to charge the crowd on the brink to prevent the press of people forcing them back in the precipice.
He performed privately for both the Prince of Wales and King Edward VII, he repeated the stunt of 'carrying a man on his back' and offered to carry the prince, but he declined.
You don't have to be a tightrope walker to get across the falls of life.  You just need to trust Jesus enough to get on His shoulders.  Getting through life is all about learning to climb up on Jesus’ shoulders.  He will not drop you.

:31  Make an agreement with me by a present ...

If the people would just surrender, then the Assyrians will go away, and life will go on like normal.


Giving in doesn’t make life easier

The enemy has long been in the business of promising rewards if we just surrender to him:
Matthew 4:8-10  Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9  And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10  Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
It’s kind of like when Satan whispers in your ear, “Just give in to this temptation, and everything will go back to being normal again...”
Yes, the pressure may be off for awhile, at least until he shows up to tempt you again.

:31  drink ye every one the waters of his cistern

Rabshakeh thinks that there’s a very limited source of water in the city of Jerusalem.

According to his scouting reports, Jerusalem has to depend on cisterns to collect rain water to supply their water.

With the people shut up inside the city, they’re going to run out of water quick.

What he doesn’t know is that Hezekiah has built a special, secret tunnel, through 600 feet of solid rock, bringing fresh water from the spring of Gihon straight into the city at the pool of Siloam.


Don’t settle for a cistern, get a river!

Your spiritual life can be like a cistern.
We collect spiritual refreshment from others, going to church, listening to KWVE, etc.
And then we can survive off of what we collect.
But God has promised us a well of water springing up inside us if we want it!
(John 7:37-39 KJV)  In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. {38} He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. {39} (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
If we’ll just come to God and ask, He’ll let the Holy Spirit be a well of water springing up inside us, and He’ll be able to nourish us and sustain us, even during times when we can’t receive from others.

All we have to do is be thirsty.

And then ask.

:33 Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria?

He’s going to give quite a convincing argument.

To this point there is not one single country that has been able to stand up against the Assyrians!


#5 – Despair

One of the enemy’s greatest weapons is to make us think that nobody has ever broken this thing.
“Nobody has ever conquered the sin you’re struggling with.”
“You can never get out of your hopeless situation”
The truth is, all struggles are common
(1 Cor 10:13 KJV)  There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

It really isn’t a new thing.

Lots of people have struggled with it before you ever did.

And God is able to deliver you.  Trust Him.

:36  the people remained silent

Hezekiah had instructed the people not to answer back to the enemy.


Sometimes it’s better to be silent, than to answer.

(Prov 26:4 KJV)  Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.