The enemy reminded the king with very specific examples that he had overcome his conquests before and totally expected to do so again.
The king is Hezekiah. The enemy is Sennacherib, king of Assyria. The current conquest is Jerusalem.
Sennacherib had already taken the fortified cities of Judah (Isaiah 36:1). In fact, the Bible tells us he had taken them all. Then he set his eyes on Jerusalem and was so sure of himself, he forfeited the surprise tactic and sent the Rabshakeh and a great army to tell the men of Jerusalem just what he planned to do them, giving very specific examples of how he had already done the same to other countries.
When Hezekiah was told the trash talk—and we will see that it really was just trash talk—of the Rabshakeh, he sent important-to-him men important to him to the prophet Isaiah.
“And they said to him, ‘Thus says Hezekiah: “This day is a day of trouble and rebuke and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the Lord your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left”’” (Isaiah 37:3–4).
“… the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth” (v. 3). This verse is important. Hezekiah knew there was a promise over Jerusalem, but the words of the enemy (Isaiah 36:5–6) must have caused an element of doubt, and he knew in their own power they could not defend the promise, much less make it come to pass. Their only hope was in the Lord. And what a hope!
God took the words of the Rabshakeh personally, as Hezekiah hoped, and He gave Hezekiah a promise: “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land” (Isaiah 37:6–7).
The power and might of Sennacherib’s army was imposing, but Hezekiah had a promise, a very specific promise in no uncertain terms, of victory. And he wasn’t even going to have to fight. His fighting had been done on his knees, before the threat and after.
See? Hezekiah had cleaned Judah up, torn down the altars they had made to worship other gods, and caused Judah to worship the Lord Jehovah again. Hezekiah’s heart was right. This is how the Bible puts it: “And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done” (2 Kings 18:3). He was spiritually prepared for this fight, and he used the mighty weapon of prayer to defeat this enemy.
Sennacherib did hear a rumor and went to fight the king of Ethiopia but sent one more threat with examples in a letter—and again, the trash talk was just that.
Hezekiah took that threat to the house of the Lord and prayed. He prayed the promise in! And God showed His might!
God gave a message concerning Sennacherib saying the only reason he had any victories was because God used him to destroy the countries that worshipped other gods, and that he had no power outside of God’s power to destroy anyone.
Then the Lord gave a promise regarding Judah—all of Judah, not just Jerusalem.
What happened next? The Lord’s angel invaded the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 of them, and Sennacherib did die in his own land at the hand of his sons, just like the Lord said. Jerusalem did not have to fight from their place of weakness in trying to do what they couldn’t do, because the Lord fought for them from His place of power and sovereignty.
So, why did I tell you this very involved story? We are the same as Hezekiah. We’ve seen people destroyed by the hand of Satan, and his message to us is that he will do the same to our prodigals. He repeats these threats with examples loudly and often, but, like Hezekiah, we have a promise, and God will keep that promise, just like He did His promise to Hezekiah and Judah.
We are also like Hezekiah in that we are to pray the promise in. When those threats come—when you smell alcohol on her breath, when his eyes are glazed over from substance abuse, when her body is wasting away, when he lives as a homosexual, when promiscuity brings a disease, when she says she no longer believes in God, when he ends up in jail, or any other number of whens—we go to the Lord, lay those threats on the altar, call them out by name, and destroy them through prayer and obedience to the Lord in what He tells us at that altar.
The enemy’s words are powerless, but the words of our God are full of power, because He reigns, He is sovereign, He can handle the whens and threats, and He will deliver, save, heal, and protect. He will always keep His promises.
Our Father, I see the destruction Satan has brought into others’ lives. I also see his efforts at stealing, killing, and destroy __________. I bring those threats, schemes, and weapons formed against __________ to You. I ask You to destroy them and set __________ free from him. Save, sanctify, fill with Your Spirit, and fulfill Your purposes in __________. In Jesus’ name I pray.