King Sennacherib of Assyria positioned his men beside the aqueduct leading to Jerusalem. He had Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem right where he wanted them. (Read Isaiah 36-37, 2 Kings 18)
Hezekiah sent out 3 officials to meet with the Assyrian Commander in Chief. The Assyrian passed on this taunting message to the 3 officials. As I read, I realized we can learn a lot about our own enemy, Satan, by acknowledging the tactics that Sennacherib used that day. These quotes are from the NLT, as I enjoy the reading the flow of the account in that translation.
- The enemy plants doubts in our minds.
“What are you trusting in that makes you so confident? Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength? Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me? On Egypt? If you lean on Egypt, it will be like a reed that splinters beneath your weight and pierces your hand. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is completely unreliable!” 2 Kings 18: 19b-21“Why do you think God can use you? After all, if they knew your past, people would never like you. You are useless. You couldn’t even get your own father to like you. Why do you think the people in your church would like you? You are such a failure as a wife. You are too old to help out. You are too young to make a difference. ” The enemy is bold with planting doubts in our minds. Remember in the Garden of Eden? “Did God really say…?”
- The enemy lies to us and about us.
“But perhaps you will say to me, ‘We are trusting in the Lord our God!’ But isn’t he the one who was insulted by Hezekiah? Didn’t Hezekiah tear down his shrines and altars and make everyone in Judah and Jerusalem worship only at the altar here in Jerusalem?” Isaiah 36:7What Sennacherib was saying simply wasn’t the truth. Sure, Hezekiah tore down shrines, but not HIS shrines.2 Kings 18:3-5 holds the TRUE account: ” And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him.” Beware of half truths from the enemy!
- The enemy causes confusion.
“What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The LORD himself told us, ‘Attack this land and destroy it'” Isaiah 36:10If it doesn’t sound like something the Lord would do or say, ask Him! Don’t ignore the Spirit’s warning within you.
- The enemy “speaks our language”.
“Then Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said to the Assyrian chief of staff, “Please speak to us in Aramaic, for we understand it well. Don’t speak in Hebrew, for the people on the wall will hear.” But Sennacherib’s chief of staff replied, “Do you think my master sent this message only to you and your master? He wants all the people to hear it…” Isaiah 36:11-12Do you think that the enemy cares about those around us? He wants everyone to hear his message of deceit in terms completely understandable to them. He will say whatever he wants to say and hope that as many are deceived as possible!
- The enemy makes us false promises.
“These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well.Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards.”How many times have we given in to the desires and temptations that Satan present to us – lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the pride of life – because we really wanted what he was promising? The result is never what we had been promised. The result of sin is guilt, shame, harm to those we love, bringing dishonor to our Lord. If you could ask Eve, she would tell you!
Combating Enemy Tactics – Hezekiah’s Example
- Get alone with God.
“When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes and put on burlap and went into the Temple of the Lord.” Isaiah 37:1When we know the enemy is attacking us, we should take the time to get alone with the Lord!
- Be honest with God.
“After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord’s Temple and spread it out before the Lord.”Whatever is going on in our lives, we should “spread it out before the Lord” – bring the situation/temptation before Him in honesty.
- Acknowledge who He is, His sovereignty and power.
“And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth…Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God.” Isaiah 37:15-16, 20
- Let Him be a personal God to you!
“Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! ” Isaiah 37:17aSometimes we stop at acknowledging God’s power and manage to keep Him far away from us still. Did you know that He wants to bend down and listen to us? It reminds me of stooping down to the eye level of a small child and listening intently. This is God’s heart to us – don’t stop short of allowing Him to be personal to you in your daily walk with Him!
Psalm 116:2 Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath.
The example that Hezekiah give is so important! We don’t become victorious through conquering our enemy but through our surrender to Christ.