Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Isaiah 37:21-25

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sennacherib’s Fall

21 Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Because you have prayed to me concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria,  22 this is the word the LORD has spoken against him:

Why didn’t Isaiah just go in person and speak directly to the king? Wouldn’t it have been more impressive coming right from the mouth of the prophet? When we read what follows, we get an impression that Isaiah very carefully and deliberately wanted this message read—not only to King Hezekiah, but to King Sennacherib of Assyria himself.

The following verses have been called “one of the most majestic and stately of Isaiah’s prophecies.”1 We have every reason to believe that this document was handed over and read to Sennacherib in person. Isaiah does not begin in humility at all.

“The Virgin Daughter of Zion
     despises and mocks you.
The Daughter of Jerusalem
     tosses her head as you flee.
23 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!

Why was Peter intimidated by the young girl out in the courtyard of the high priest’s house (Mark 14:66)? She had the power to accuse him and perhaps even cost him his life. It wasn’t that she was handy with a sword; but she had the ear of the high priest. Here the “Virgin Daughter of Zion” spits in the face of the Assyrian empire, not because the girl herself (Jerusalem and the nation of Judah) is at all a threat, but, to put things in terms of a modern playground, “her dad can beat up your dad.” The Assyrians have been threatening the special, beloved child of the God of the Universe. They have pulled the tail of the Lion of Judah, and the lion has not exactly been sleeping…

24 By your messengers
     you have heaped insults on the Lord.
And you have said,
     ‘With my many chariots
I have ascended the heights of the mountains,
     the utmost heights of Lebanon.
I have cut down its tallest cedars,
     the choicest of its pines.
I have reached its remotest heights,
     the finest of its forests.
25 I have dug wells in foreign lands
     and drunk the water there.
With the soles of my feet
     I have dried up all the streams of Egypt.’ (NIV)

The Assyrians may have accomplished great things with their armies, but like the great, powerful and beautiful angel Lucifer in heaven just moments after the creation was completed, they became vain and proud of their own accomplishments. They were like King Nebuchadnezzar who let himself be duped into thinking that he was some great shakes while his minions plotted and stoked the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:8-12). This was the same sort of nonsense that got Haman into trouble in the time of Queen Esther while his enemy Mordecai got the reward that Haman had craved (Esther 5:11, 6:12, 10:3).

God reaches into Sennacherib’s innermost thoughts and lets Isaiah rip out his heart’s desire. God knows the crags and corners of our thoughts and desires, where gossip lives (Proverbs 18:8) and lust (Proverbs 6:25; Ezekiel 23:17) and the silent idolatry men have for their possessions (Matthew 19:22). This would have made an impressive epitaph for a King—“I have reached its remotest heights”—but God isn’t in the picture, and “You Fool!” God says; “This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:20).

Jesus’ answer is simple: “But seek God’s kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 12:31). We give God first place in our lives, and we praise him, whether the going is tough or easy. He is our Lord and he is our Savior.

1 Young, The Book of Isaiah (Vol. II) p. 487.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.