3323.) 2 Chronicles 32

“The Downfall of Sennacherib” by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

2 Chronicles 32   (NLT)

Assyria Invades Judah

1 After Hezekiah had faithfully carried out this work, King Sennacherib of Assyria invaded Judah.

Our tendency is to think that when we are genuinely faithful to God we will be immune from attack. The experience of Hezekiah and countless other men and women of God tell us otherwise.

–David Guzik

He laid siege to the fortified towns, giving orders for his army to break through their walls. 2 When Hezekiah realized that Sennacherib also intended to attack Jerusalem, 3 he consulted with his officials and military advisers, and they decided to stop the flow of the springs outside the city. 4They organized a huge work crew to stop the flow of the springs, cutting off the brook that ran through the fields. For they said, “Why should the kings of Assyria come here and find plenty of water?”

(Read more about this water project below.)

5 Then Hezekiah worked hard at repairing all the broken sections of the wall, erecting towers, and constructing a second wall outside the first. He also reinforced the supporting terraces in the City of David and manufactured large numbers of weapons and shields. 6 He appointed military officers over the people and assembled them before him in the square at the city gate. Then Hezekiah encouraged them by saying: 7 “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! 8 He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!” Hezekiah’s words greatly encouraged the people.

Immanuel = God is with us!

Sennacherib Threatens Jerusalem

King Sennacherib of Assyria

9While King Sennacherib of Assyria was still besieging the town of Lachish, he sent his officers to Jerusalem with this message for Hezekiah and all the people in the city:

10 “This is what King Sennacherib of Assyria says: What are you trusting in that makes you think you can survive my siege of Jerusalem? 11 Hezekiah has said, ‘The Lord our God will rescue us from the king of Assyria.’ Surely Hezekiah is misleading you, sentencing you to death by famine and thirst! 12 Don’t you realize that Hezekiah is the very person who destroyed all the Lord’s shrines and altars? He commanded Judah and Jerusalem to worship only at the altar at the Temple and to offer sacrifices on it alone.
13 “Surely you must realize what I and the other kings of Assyria before me have done to all the people of the earth! Were any of the gods of those nations able to rescue their people from my power? 14 Which of their gods was able to rescue its people from the destructive power of my predecessors? What makes you think your God can rescue you from me? 15 Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you! Don’t let him fool you like this! I say it again—no god of any nation or kingdom has ever yet been able to rescue his people from me or my ancestors. How much less will your God rescue you from my power!”

The Assyrian’s speech was intended to destroy their trust in God. His message was simple, and brilliant in its evil logic: “The gods of other nations have not been able to protect them against us. Your God is just like one of them, and can’t protect you either.”

Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV)

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

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Music:

We know what King Sennacherib did not — that God our God is almighty, eternal, gracious, just, and able to rescue us to the uttermost!  HERE  Don Moen sings “There Is None Like You.”

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16 And Sennacherib’s officers further mocked the Lord God and his servant Hezekiah, heaping insult upon insult. 17 The king also sent letters scorning the Lord, the God of Israel. He wrote, “Just as the gods of all the other nations failed to rescue their people from my power, so the God of Hezekiah will also fail.” 18 The Assyrian officials who brought the letters shouted this in Hebrew to the people gathered on the walls of the city, trying to terrify them so it would be easier to capture the city. 19 These officers talked about the God of Jerusalem as though he were one of the pagan gods, made by human hands.

20 Then King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to God in heaven. 21 And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed the Assyrian army with all its commanders and officers.

 Simply and powerfully, God destroyed this mighty army in one night. 185,000 died at the hand of the angel of the LORD (2 Kings 19:35). Against all odds, and against every expectation except the expectation of faith, the Assyrian army was turned back without having even shot an arrow into Jerusalem. The unstoppable was stopped, the undefeated was defeated.

The prophet Hosea made this same prediction: Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen. (Hosea 1:7).

Psalm 34:7 (ESV)

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

So Sennacherib was forced to return home in disgrace to his own land. And when he entered the temple of his god, some of his own sons killed him there with a sword.

22 That is how the Lord rescued Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from King Sennacherib of Assyria and from all the others who threatened them. So there was peace throughout the land. 23 From then on King Hezekiah became highly respected among all the surrounding nations, and many gifts for the Lord arrived at Jerusalem, with valuable presents for King Hezekiah, too.

Right: the angel killing the Assyrians, center: Sennacherib departs for the city of Nineveh, left: the death of Sennacherib. From an Italian Bible, c. 1300, now in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

 Hezekiah’s Sickness and Recovery

24 About that time Hezekiah became deathly ill. He prayed to the Lord, who healed him and gave him a miraculous sign. 25 But Hezekiah did not respond appropriately to the kindness shown him, and he became proud. So the Lord’s anger came against him and against Judah and Jerusalem. 26Then Hezekiah humbled himself and repented of his pride, as did the people of Jerusalem. So the Lord’s anger did not fall on them during Hezekiah’s lifetime.

27 Hezekiah was very wealthy and highly honored. He built special treasury buildings for his silver, gold, precious stones, and spices, and for his shields and other valuable items. 28 He also constructed many storehouses for his grain, new wine, and olive oil; and he made many stalls for his cattle and pens for his flocks of sheep and goats. 29 He built many towns and acquired vast flocks and herds, for God had given him great wealth. 30 He blocked up the upper spring of Gihon and brought the water down through a tunnel to the west side of the City of David. And so he succeeded in everything he did.

This intrepid tourist has waded through Hezekiah’s Tunnel in Jerusalem. One of the greatest works of water engineering technology in the pre-Classical period, the tunnel is 1750 feet long and brings water from one side of the city to the other. The tunnel was discovered in modern times in 1838 by Edward Robinson (if you have been to Jerusalem:  the same Robinson as Robinson’s Arch, Temple Mount).

From Wikipedia: 

The ancient city of Jerusalem, being on a mountain, is naturally defensible from almost all sides, but suffers from the drawback that its major source of fresh water, the Gihon Spring, is on the side of the cliff overlooking the Kidron Valley. This presents a major military weakness as the city walls, if high enough to be defensible, must necessarily leave the Gihon spring outside, thus leaving the city without a fresh water supply in case of siege. This weakness had been removed by the Canaanites who built a very strongly fortified tower around the spring and connected it to the city walls on the slope by an additional wall, which carried a well-protected corridor. A Canaanite tunnel already collected the spring water since ca. 1800 BC and led it southwards through the bedrock, but it released the water onto the fields in the Kidron Valley through several openings and ended in an open reservoir. While allowing for important farming, this arrangement also made water available to besieging troops outside the city walls.

The Bible says that King Hezekiah (c. 8th century BC), fearful that the Assyrians would lay siege to the city, blocked the spring’s water outside the city and diverted it through a channel into the then Pool of Siloam.

(This is the traditional interpretation — some scholars suggest other dates and people, as well.)

31 However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart.

Summary of Hezekiah’s Reign

32 The rest of the events in Hezekiah’s reign and his acts of devotion are recorded in The Vision of the Prophet Isaiah Son of Amoz, which is included in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel. 33 When Hezekiah died, he was buried in the upper area of the royal cemetery, and all Judah and Jerusalem honored him at his death. And his son Manasseh became the next king.

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Rubens.    http://www.peterpaulrubens.net/images/gallery/the-defeat-of-sennacherib.jpg
King Sennacherib.    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3319/3619742068_d67fcf2886.jpg
Italian Bible picture.    http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=112308&handle=li
Hezekiah’s Tunnel.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/hezekiahtunnelbycandlelightwithoutguide.jpg

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