5.89 2 Kings -- Sennacherib vs Hezekiah
And then Sennacherib of Assyria came against Judah and captured its towns. Hezekiah raided the Temple for gold and silver to send as tribute, but it did not stop the Assyrian army from besieging Jerusalem. Sennacherib's officers paused outside the walls of Jerusalem and taunted the king of Judah and the Jews:
"Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, 'The Lord will deliver us.' Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the Lord deliver Jerusalem from my hand?" (2 Kings 18:32-35).
What we have learned from Bible history thus far is that it was permissible to harass the Israelites, raid their villages, even take them away as captives. But there were limits -- you must never, ever mock the God of Israel -- or you were done for. Sennacherib, being new to the region and unfamiliar with the rules, crossed the line. If God was offended by inclusive worship, He was even more upset by inclusive disrespect: "your God is no different than those of Israel or Aram or any of the other countries that eat our dust. They were powerless against me, and so is your God."
Hezekiah, though, knew the rules and used them against his opponent. He did not ask for God's help because of any virtue in Judah. Instead, he prayed,
"Lord, bow down Your ear and hear; Lord, open Your eyes and see; hear the words of Sennacherib which he has sent to mock, reproach, insult, and defy the living God" (2 Kings 19:16).
Now for the first time, we hear from the "prophet in residence," Isaiah:
"Who is it you have insulted and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel!...Have you not heard? Long ago I ordained it. In days of old I planned it; now I have brought it to pass, that you have turned fortified cities into piles of stone....Because you rage against me and your insolence has reached my ears, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and I will make you return by the way you came" (2 Kings 19:22-28).
Foremost in his words are the Lord's anger against the pride of man. Sennacherib asssumed that there was some supremacy in himself, some great innate wisdom and power that brought him victory. It was what later might have been called a "Nebuchadnezzar complex." God knew how to quickly puncture this self-exaltation:
That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning -- there were all the dead bodies! (2 Kings 19:35)
In terms of body count, this was the largest kill since the death of the firstborn sons of Egypt. But this time, the king himself also died -- indirectly, murdered by two of his sons in the temple of his god.