Isaiah 36 and 37 are a good example of how vital it is to cling for dear life to what God says versus what fallible human beings claim even if they are loaded with facts and statistics. Critics who have no godly basis for their criticisms are there to talk us out of our blessings. In this account in Isaiah, the great army of Sennacherib, the great king of the great Assyrian empire, sent his messenger Rabshekeh to Jerusalem to discourage the Judahites from resisting them in battle. Rabshakeh’s lengthy speech criticized their lack of power and strength, then proceeded to urge them to surrender the city.
His message was that the Judahites should just surrender their lands and be taken to Assyria where they would be given lands as good as their own to live in peace. To persuade them, Rabshakeh pointed out the statistics that all of the surrounding nations, including Israel, fell in battle to Assyria. Using that fact and those statistics, he drew very subtle, yet very deceptive, very fallible conclusions. He said the following:
7 But if thou say to me, We trust in the Lord our God: is it not he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and said to Judah and to Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar? …
10 And am I now come up without the Lord against this land to destroy it? the Lord said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it. …
18 Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, the Lord will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Isaiah 36
Rabshakeh’s prideful mistaken assumptions on behalf of Sennacherib were:
1) Hezekiah was against worshiping Jehovah and had set up a false worship system, when the opposite was true.
2) He falsely proclaimed that he was sent by God to destroy Judah, even blaspheming God’s name by saying God told Assyria to destroy Judah.
3) He assumed that Jehovah was just like any other false god from pagan nations.
Although Rabshakeh’s facts were correct about the conquered nations, he did not have any facts straight on Judah or Judah’s God, Jehovah. So in Isaiah 37, Jehovah told Judah not to mind the critics, stand their ground, and watch while he handled Assyria. He said, “Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.”
However, as Rabshakeh was called away to another battle, before departing he contradicted himself by saying, “Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.” His contradiction was that he previously said God told him to destroy Judah, but now he was calling God deceptive for saying Judah would be delivered. Rabshakeh revealed himself to be a liar in this contradiction. Therefore, after Hezekiah prayed to the Lord about Assyria, the Lord reassured him, then took action by wiping out 185,000 of Sennacherib’s soldiers. Sennacherib had no choice but to return to Nineveh where he was assassinated a short time afterwards.
Judah ignored the critics and received God’s blessings. I also received a blessing after ignoring some critics yesterday, although nothing as dramatic or vast as what Judah experienced. I went to see the new Ben-Hur movie in spite of the negative reviews of secular critics and was blessed by the reminder of Biblical themes. In particular, how hatred and desire for vengeance can drive people to do some very nasty things, yet encountering and heeding God’s call to forgive as we are forgiven can bring about such peace and blessings. I guess that’s why the critics hate the movie so much even though they make up other reasons to hide the true reason for their negativity.