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Lesson 7: Defeat of the Assyrians *

Introduction: Our study this week involves one of my favorite stories in the Bible. King Ahaz dies and King Hezekiah, who loved the true God, is now on the throne of Judah. The problem is, as you will recall, that Ahaz had made a deal with the Assyrians. The Assyrians decided they would not simply take Ahaz's bribe money, they would take his whole country! Do you have impossible problems? Has your father created difficulties for you? Need help yesterday? Hezekiah is our "poster child" for dealing with serious difficulties. Let's plunge into his story to learn how a master handles impossible problems!

  1. The Problem

    1. Read Isaiah 36:1. Imagine you are Hezekiah, the King of Judah. What is the score in your battle with the Assyrians? (The Assyrians have a perfect win rate. You have lost every battle.)

      1. Why is this such bad news? (These are the "fortified cities." They are the cities best able to defend against invaders.)

    1. Read Isaiah 36:2-3. How serious is the problem now? (The Assyrians are outside the city of Jerusalem. The Assyrian field commander is at the Upper Pool!)

      1. Who attends the meeting? (Representatives of both kings.)

        1. Why would Hezekiah want a meeting? (He was probably hoping for a way out of the problem. However, I'm not sure Hezekiah had much choice. If he had any choice, he would not have let the Assyrian commander and his (v.2) "large army" so close.)

    2. Read Isaiah 36:4-7. What is the Assyrian king's motive for meeting? (He wants to demoralize King Hezekiah. He wants Hezekiah to surrender.)

      1. How would you guess Hezekiah's mental state is at this time? (Discouraged. Frightened. God had not come through for him.)

      2. Have you ever asked God why He let your problems become so serious?

      3. Read 2 Kings 19:9. How does Pharaoh fit into this picture? (One commentary that I read said that Egypt was the real target of the Assyrians. They were just taking over Judah while on a march to Egypt. This commentary also reports that Hezekiah had decided to stop paying tribute to the Assyrians. In this he had a promise of help from Egypt and Ethiopia. In 2 Kings we see that Egypt is marching out to meet the Assyrians.)

      4. Let's get back to Isaiah 36:7. What are the Assyrians saying about Hezekiah trusting God? (They say that Hezekiah cannot trust God because Hezekiah was unfaithful to God.)

        1. Is this true? Consider carefully what is said by the Assyrian commander. (Read 2 Kings 18:1-4. The allegations are not true. The Assyrians are confused - they think that removing the "high places" is a rebuke to the true God. In fact, Hezekiah was destroying the places for worship of the false gods.)

    3. Read Isaiah 36:8-9. Why would the King of Assyria offer to give horses to the country he is about to attack? What information about Hezekiah's situation do we learn from this offer? (Horses were a technological advance in military weapons. This shows us that the Assyrians had a calvary. King Hezekiah could not muster enough riders even if he were given the horses. The point is that Assyria is much more advanced in terms of military might than Judah.)

    4. Read Isaiah 36:10. Could this be true? Had it been true during the time of King Ahaz? (It had been true in the past. Recall our study of Isaiah 7:20 and Isaiah 8:9-10. When we considered those texts we learned that God was behind the military success of Assyria in attacks on Israel and Judah.)

      1. How would King Hezekiah know whether it was true or not?

        1. Have you wondered if problems that you face are part of God's lesson for you or part of an attack by Satan?

          1. How can you tell the source of your problems?

            1. Does it matter whether you know the source? (This was a big issue for Job. As you may recall, Job's friends told him he was being punished because of his sins. (See, e.g., Job 22:1-5.) Job wanted to "sue God" because he did not think it was true he deserved to be punished (Job 23). Whatever the source of your problems, I think the solution is the same - you turn to God. You should examine your life to see if it is out of step with God. If it is, repent. But, in any case turn to God for help. Job would have saved a lot of grief and energy if he had stopped defending himself and accusing God and simply said "God, I am in your hands. Please save me.")

    1. Read Isaiah 36:11. What is this request about? (They were asking the Assyrian commander to speak to them in a language that they, but not the "average Joe or Jane," would understand.)

      1. Should this have been a private conversation?

    2. Read Isaiah 36:12. What is the argument against having a private conversation? (The average person is going to suffer if the Assyrians attack. They are entitled to know what will happen to them.)

      1. What would you call this approach by the Assyrian commander? (Psychological warfare.)

      2. How much of the statement of the Assyrian commander so far has been psychological warfare?

      3. Why would these people be in danger of the diet suggested by the Assyrian commander? (If the Assyrians laid siege to the city, the people would have nothing to eat or drink.)

    3. Read Isaiah 36:13. Now the Assyrian commander makes the pitch the Assyrian's want to make to the "average Joe and Jane."

    4. Read Isaiah 36:14-20. What are the points that the Assyrian makes? (1. Don't trust King Hezekiah - he cannot help. 2. Don't trust your God - He cannot help. 3. If you surrender, we will treat you nicely.)

      1. Notice verses 16-17. They say in any contract the "devil is in the details." What detail catches your attention here? (The Assyrians intend to relocate them. The "stay at home and eat and drink" is for a limited time only.)

      2. The Assyrians make a different argument about God in verses 18-20. First they suggested that King Hezekiah had rejected the true God. Next they said that the true God was "on their side." What are they saying now about the true God? (It doesn't matter whose side God is on. No god has ever been able to defeat the Assyrians!)

        1. Does this argument have any credibility? (So far the true God had not defeated the Assyrians.)

        2. Has Satan used this argument with you?

    5. Read 2 Chronicles 32:17 for an additional detail. Have you ever said to someone, "Put that in writing?" The Assyrian King wanted no doubt about what he was saying.

  1. The Response

    1. Read Isaiah 37:1-2. When you face serious problems, what do you do first?

      1. What are the first two things that King Hezekiah did?

        1. How does this compare to what King Ahaz did when he faced these problems? (Hezekiah immediately turns to God. Ahaz turned to other people.)

    2. Read Isaiah 37:3-4. Is this a "save me?" or a "Your will be done" prayer? (Hezekiah does ask to be saved, but he is not presumptuous.)

      1. What "argument" does Hezekiah make to God through the prophet Isaiah? Is Hezekiah arguing that Judah deserves to be saved? (No. Hezekiah argues that God has been insulted. God's reputation is on the line.)

        1. What do you think about this prayer? (I like the fact that Hezekiah turns to God. However, I prefer to plead for myself and not argue why God should get angry with "the other guy.")

    3. Later Hezekiah gets the letter we discussed before and he turns to God. We see his prayer in more detail in Isaiah 37:14-20. Read this prayer.

      1. What do you think about this prayer?

      2. Who is the focus of this prayer?

        1. Do your prayers have the same focus?

    4. Read 2 Chronicles 7:14. What is our role in facing adversity?

    5. Read Isaiah 37:5-7. What is God's response to Hezekiah's prayer? (He agrees to rescue them.)

      1. How will God rescue Jerusalem? (Read Isaiah 37:8. We see that the Assyrian commander withdrew based on a "report" that received.)

    6. If you have time, read Isaiah 37:21-29. This explains God's thinking and His role in these events on earth. Verse 28 catches my eye: God says, "You may be angry and insolent, but I know where you live!"

      1. What will be the outcome of the battle and the fate of the King of Assyria?

  2. The Conclusion

    1. Read Isaiah 37:36-38. What part did Hezekiah and his soldiers play in this victory?

      1. What was the end of the King of Assyria?

        1. What significance do you find in his place of death? (He died in the "presence" of his god at the hands of his sons.)

    2. Friend, this story illustrates the most fundamental truth about facing impossible problems. Our job is not to defeat the problem. Our job is, as 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, to humbly seek God, repent of our sins and let God deal with our problems. He is a great God, will you let Him do His work in your life?

  3. Next week: Comfort My People.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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