History Gives Us the Picture
Chapter 36 and verse one, Isaiah gives us the year and the crisis facing King Hezekiah when he writes, “Now it came about in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and seized them. Having secured these, Jerusalem, the capital city was now his objective. His army was in viewing distance of the city. Sennacherib new they were defeated so he sends a negotiator to secure surrender and/or establish a threat that would insure surrender.
Hezekiah’s representative diplomats exit the city to meet with him. They requested negotiations be in Aramaic to keep the threat on the diplomatic level. However, Rabshakeh, the Assyrian negotiator, seized upon this request to strengthen his position of intimidation and proceeded to speak in Judean (36:11).
The Application to Any Age
Yes, this was a nation against a nation, nonetheless, this was a cultural war. Judah as a nation had a culture in which its nationalism was intricately interwoven with the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. Yes, from time to time, this culture was threatened internally by disobedient and unbelieving citizens, nonetheless, they were a nation founded upon the Word of God and a nation serving a specific purpose of God.
In this incident in the life of Judah, we observe some principles that are applicable to an individual believer or a nation throughout history. When Germany became a modern Assyria with an anti-God culture, the Western world with a culture that predominately honored God, at least in name, officially played out these principles and the Third Reich along with Hitler and his cohort were defeated and brought to justice.
The Reality of Warfare
While in the Providence of God there are often casualties in the culture wars between satanically driven anti-God proponents and the people of God, there are also many individual instances where the principles of this passage are applied and display the actions of God in those individual lives bring unexpected victories.
In 36:13-20 the Assyrian negotiator makes braggadocios threats including demoting the God of Israel to the pantheon of the gods of the other nations who were not able to stand against the Assyrian army (36:18).
Principles to Practice
Chapter thirty-seven gives us these principles:
- Begin by going to God in humble worship 37:1
- Seek to hear from the Word of God—in this case, in the person of the known prophet of God, Isaiah (37:2)
- Seek God in prayer to take up the fight (37:3-4)
- Ponder this reality. Those who are anti-God and oppose you and a culture based upon the God of the heavens are guilty of blasphemy (37:6)
- Ponder this reality. God says, “I will make him (them) [God’s enemies] fall by the sword in his own land”—hear this, God can and will take care of the opposition—in His timing (37:7)
- As the leader, Hezekiah takes the threat directly to God in prayer (37:14)
He engaged in personal worship (16) and made specific requests (17) while acknowledging the threat in specific terms (18-19).
- In specific response to the King’s prayer, God sends a specific assurance of His answer (37:21-35)
- Within that answer is this promise, “the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward.” [Judah did, but unfortunately, drifted again into sin].
- Ponder the Providence God and the omnipotence of God to execute this Providence (37:36-38)
An Aid to Understanding
Yes, there is hope! The war raging in our land and in the world is a cultural war. Samuel Huntington in his book, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order describes this process as the clash of worldviews. He is right. Worldviews produce culture.
These cultural wars are not only between Islamic and Jewish culture. They are between western (Christian framed) and eastern (a pantheon of religions framed). They are red state verses blue state. Unfortunately, they have become Democrat versus Republican (at a level far beyond the traditional). They are people of color versus white people. They are “woke” professing Christians versus traditional Christians. Hence, we are engaged in cultural wars of which there are many subterrain and subtle (and not so subtle) aspects.
Our hope is two-fold, God and His Word which explains God’s redemptive work. The work of our redemption was finished on the cross. The execution of the enemy is yet to come. In the meantime, the Christian plays two roles, evangelist and disciplemaker. These are cast in the imagery of being soldiers in the Lord’s army. We should expect warfare and we should expect to win, though not casualties free. We are expected to exercise the principles displayed in this passage, one among many such passages. Practicing these is our strategy and our hope in this war.
The hope that powers our implementing these principles is the ultimate hope of the resurrection of Jesus completed in the return of Jesus so beautifully describe by Paul in I Thess 4:13ff.
13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him [including the casualties of the spiritual, cultural, warfare]. …. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words