Can God be Trusted in the Darkest Situation?
Andrew Fountain – Sept 5, 2021
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Have ever been in a situation in your life when there is a potential of something
really really bad happening?
It could be so bad that you don’t even want to think about it
And you desperately pray to God about it
Is he a good Father?
does he care?
It’s coming nearer and nearer
In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign, King Sennacherib of Assyria marched up against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.
The king of Assyria sent his chief adviser from Lachish to King Hezekiah in Jerusalem, along with a large army.
David—Solomon—split—Northern— Ahab & Jezebel
What was the world empire?
So who were these Assyrians?
One of the proudest and cruelest races ever to live
This 15-ton lion symbolizes Ishtar, Assyrian goddess of war.
With huge teeth they chomped their way through nation after nation
185,000 men? Archeologists tell us that with phenomenal logistics and planning they could support massive armies of 150,000 to 200,000
In a book, The great armies of antiquity by Richard A. Gabriel, p.130 he says:
“A single weapons room in Sargon’s palace at Dur-Sharrukin (Fort Sargon) contained 200 tons of iron weapons, helmets, and body armour.”
A fighting machine tuned to a frightening efficiency
The iron-clad wooden battering-ram has two beams fitted with iron tips to break bricks from the wall.
(not seen in this image) Behind it, on the wall, is a man pleading for mercy, behind him are naked men impaled on stakes, with fallen soldiers lying in a wooded background.
The Assyrian sculptors made great efforts to depict even the most gruesome details of war.
Some years earlier they had captured the capital city of the Northern Kingdom of Israel
Here is an Artist’s impression
They took the entire nation into captivity
Now they were coming for the southern Kingdom
But this kingdom had just had a revival under King Hezekiah
They had got rid of all the alters to false Gods
They had just had one of the most wonderful passovers ever, worshipping God True they were not perfect, they still had a lot of sin
But there was an honest effort to trust in God On the way to Jerusalem they captured the city of Lachish as a demonstration of their power
The city was never rebuilt, so we have lots of archeological evidence like this siege ramp
They commemorated the victory with this picture
Judean captives being led away into slavery by the Assyrians after the siege of Lachish in 701 B.C.
We can learn something of their behaviour
This relief is important for the knowledge of Judean dress. Now they are at the very gates of Jerusalem “Isaiah 36”
See the barb at the end—none of the other gods... how can your god
So when they came, it was really a battle between their god, an evil spirit, and the true God.
The Assyrian god Nisroch was depicted as an eagle-headed deity with wings and exaggerated muscles.
In this sculptured relief from Nineveh he is sprinkling the sacred tree with water. He is holding a water vessel in his left hand and a fir cone (sponge) in his right. Do you ever feel that it is not fair that you worship the true God, yet bad things happen to you?
Imagine how Hezekiah felt?
The horror and terror
Was God really going to come through for him?
How come the Assyrians did so well, even though they served an evil spirit? Do you ever ask “Does God care about me?”
Is he a father I can trust?
This is how he must have felt
If God didn’t answer, then he would certainly face the most excruciating death they could dream up for him Can you feel the pressure on him? “Isaiah 37:1–8”
The main prophet at the time is Isaiah
So Hezekiah prays, and sends his servants to ask Isaiah what will happen There is a temporary reprieve as the chief of the army gets called away
But it doesn’t last long
The king had to go and fight Egypt for a short while
but soon returns... “Isaiah 37:9–20”
Once again he is mocking the true God
Hezekiah spreads this letter out
Do you ever feel like that?
You feel so desperate and desolate and you just spread it out before God
This made a big impact on me when I first heard the story.
A number of times I have...
I want you to get hold of this image Have you ever felt like this?
At some point all of us will probably have a Hezekiah experience
Just out of options What will God answer?
His answer is shocking.
I would love to have seen the face of Sennacherib when he read it
The answer is to laugh in the face of Sennacherib “Isaiah 37:21–29”
So Hezekiah is now given this prophecy.
What are they going to think when they are told the God laughs at them and despises them?
Is it going to calm the situation down? What is going to happen?
Who knows the end of the story?
Even if you don’t know it, you probably suspect it will be a good ending :) Isaiah didn’t stop there. After the word to give to the Assyrians, he has a word for God’s people:
First of all we have a prophecy “Isaiah 37:30–38”
So Hezekiah and the city of Jerusalem were saved
The size of the army is about what we know from Archaeology And the king was killed in the house of the very God he boasted in:
There is some evidence from history of this event
Egyptian sources make mention of Sennacherib’s defeat in the conflict with Judah, but gives the credit for the victory to an Egyptian god who sent field mice into the camp of the Assyrians to eat their bowstrings and thus they fled from battle. There is also some written evidence:
This beautifully preserved six-sided hexagonal prism of baked clay, commonly known as the Taylor Prism, was discovered among the ruins of Nineveh, the ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire.
It contains the victories of Sennacherib himself, the Assyrian king who had besieged Jerusalem in 701 BC during the reign of king Hezekiah,
it never mentions any defeats. On the prism Sennacherib boasts that he shut up “Hezekiah the Judahite” within Jerusalem his own royal city “like a caged bird.”
But he doesn’t explain why he failed with his huge army to take a little city
Or why he never ever attacked again Later God utterly destroyed the empire
So complete was the destruction of the Assyrian capital that two centuries later Xenophon and his Greek mercenary army of 10,000 men passed by the ruins of Nineveh unaware of what they were passing.
Not a single vestige of Assyrian power remained. A people who had lived on the Tigris for more than 2,000 years had literally disappeared from the face of the earth
The Great Armies of Antiquity by Richard A. Gabriel p.137
That’s what their god did for them!
Do you have any challenges in your life today?
They don’t have to be as bad as Hezekiah’s !
Do you feel that the Devil is mocking you?
Is God a good father?
I want to challenge you to lay it before the Lord the way he did Do you want this God on your side, or are you happy to stand before the dark forces of the universe alone?
If anyone wants prayer...