17The king of Assyria ordered his three highest military officers to leave Lachish and take a large army to Jerusalem. When they arrived, the officers stood on the road near the cloth makers' shops along the canal from the upper pool. 18They called out to Hezekiah, and three of his highest officials came out to meet them. One of them was Hilkiah's son Eliakim, who was the prime minister. The other two were Shebna, assistant to the prime minister, and Joah son of Asaph, keeper of the government records.
19One of the Assyrian commanders told them:
I have a message for Hezekiah from the great king of Assyria. Ask Hezekiah why he feels so sure of himself. 20Does he think he can plan and win a war with nothing but words? Who is going to help him, now that he has turned against the king of Assyria? 21Is he depending on Egypt and its king? That's the same as leaning on a broken stick, and it will go right through his hand.
22Is Hezekiah now depending on the Lord your God? Didn't Hezekiah tear down all except one of the Lord's altars and places of worship? Didn't he tell the people of Jerusalem and Judah to worship at that one place?
23The king of Assyria wants to make a bet with you people. He will give you 2,000 horses, if you have enough troops to ride them. 24How could you even defeat our lowest ranking officer, when you have to depend on Egypt for chariots and cavalry? 25Don't forget that it was the Lord who sent me here with orders to destroy your nation!
26Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah said, “Sir, we don't want the people listening from the city wall to understand what you are saying. So please speak to us in Aramaic instead of Hebrew.”
27The Assyrian army commander answered, “My king sent me to speak to everyone, not just to you leaders. These people will soon have to eat their own body waste and drink their own urine! And so will the three of you.”
28Then, in a voice loud enough for everyone to hear, he shouted in Hebrew:
Listen to what the great king of Assyria says! 29Don't be fooled by Hezekiah. He can't save you. 30Don't trust him when he tells you that the Lord will protect you from the king of Assyria. 31Stop listening to Hezekiah! Pay attention to my king. Surrender to him. He will let you keep your own vineyards, fig trees, and cisterns 32for a while. Then he will come and take you away to a country just like yours, where you can plant vineyards, raise your own grain, and have plenty of olive oil and honey. Believe me, you won't starve there.
Hezekiah claims the Lord will save you. But don't be fooled by him. 33Were any other gods able to defend their land against the king of Assyria? 34What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad? What about the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah? Were the gods of Samaria able to protect their land against the Assyrian forces? 35None of these gods kept their people safe from the king of Assyria. Do you think the Lord your God can do any better?
36-37Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah had been warned by King Hezekiah not to answer the Assyrian commander. So they tore their clothes in sorrow and reported to Hezekiah everything the commander had said.
Have you ever felt like you’d done everything right, only for things to still go seriously wrong? Such is the way of things sometimes. We can go above and beyond to make sure that every “t” is crossed, and that every “i” is dotted, only to find that the resulting outcomes are not what we had hoped they’d be.
Here we find the House of Judah staring down at what looks to be certain destruction. In the previous section, we’d learned of King Hezekiah’s repentance for wrongly rebelling against the King of Assyria, and his efforts to right that wrong (vv14-16). Additionally, in 2 Chronicles 32 we learn that King Hezekiah also took care to strengthen the city’s defenses and encourage the people of Judah to trust in Lord regardless of what happened. In this sense, he’d done all that he could to fix the situation, only to find himself staring down what he could only believe to be certain destruction. Yet despite Judah’s misplaced reliance on Egypt, and despite the Assyrians’ arguments that Judah was wrongfully placing its faith in their God, the people of Judah stood firm.
For each of us, this is a reminder to trust solely in God. I’m sure that King Hezekiah kicked himself for wrongfully putting his trust in Egypt. And I’m sure that the people of Israel were at least somewhat disheartened as the Assyrian leaders recounted how other nations had fallen despite their reliance on their gods. However, the lesson here is that no matter what mistakes we’ve made, and no matter what the world around us may be saying about our God, we must never give in to the temptation to lose faith. We must continue to trust in God, the one true God and the only true solution for all of life’s circumstances.
Heavenly Father, Forgive me for doubting you, and help me to rely solely on you. Though my circumstances may distract me, and though I may wrongfully place my faith in others or things, please help me to stand firm in my trust of you. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.