II Kings 18:20
“You speak of having plans and power for war, but they are mere words. And in whom do you trust that you rebel against me?”
The Assyrians were a ruthless people. Ancient stone reliefs show them beheading, mutilating and killing masses of conquered people. Their habit was to kill the citizens of cities that refused to surrender, then cutting off their heads and piling them into crude pyramids. Sometimes they would hang the heads like ornaments on trees. The Assyrians considered this an efficient means of encouraging other cities to surrender without a fight.
The King of Judah, Hezekiah, was not inclined to surrender his kingdom to these evil people. Unfortunately, their army greatly outnumbered his. Furthermore, they were an empire that had defeated every army that had dared to stand against them. Now, little Jerusalem stood in their way.
The Hebrews could have simply surrendered. After all, the Assyrian King assured each of the citizens, he would initially let them live in peace and prosperity in their own land. Then they would go to a beautiful country “of bread and vineyards, a land of olive groves and honey where they would live and not die.” Isn’t that just like the devil? He always promises more than he will deliver. In truth, Assyrians were brutal to their captives, humiliating, molesting and often torturing them.
After this rosy promise, the messenger of the Assyrians issued a warning. He said, “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he shall not be able to deliver you from his (Shennacerib’s) hand; nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD.” The people of Judah now understood that, unless their God delivered them, resistance would subject them to torture and death at the hands of a vicious foe.
Everyone knew Jerusalem was too weak to resist. Could the God of the Hebrews deliver them from danger? Were they willing to put their lives on the line to trust in their God? Thankfully, they had a leader who trusted completely in the God who had led Moses across a divided Red Sea. The God who tore down the walls of Jericho. Moreover, that same God guided the stone from a young man’s sling to fell a Philistine Giant.
It was a fearful time for the believers. However, the God of the Hebrews was not afraid. He sent a solitary angel who defeated the entire Assyrian army by killing 185,000 soldiers in one night. Sennacherib, that haughty king who mocked the true God, went into eternity after being murdered by two of his sons while kneeling before his false gods.
Hezekiah and his people trusted in the true God who had proven Himself more than capable of hearing their prayers and meeting their needs. As long as Judah stayed faithful to God, their land was safe. Sadly, Judah eventually transferred their trust to false gods, other countries and bad advisers. The Babylonians were able to do what the Assyrians could not. They defeated Judah and carried them into captivity.
The same God who rescued Hezekiah is the one who gave us this great land. We are a powerful nation when we trust the God of the Bible. On the other hand, if we transfer our trust to someone or something else, we too can expect defeat by a fierce enemy, resulting in service to a cruel master. In whom do you place your trust?