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Case for Missions: the Assyrian Crisis

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Written by BGU

This post involves how we see the Lord using the Assyrian Crisis to spread the news about Him. I would submit to you that God frequently uses events like these to evangelize to the nations and to make known his character as a holy God.

The king could probably walk out onto the roof of his palace and see the Assyrian army off in the distance. All confidence was lost as the enemy commander blatantly threatened the quaking city of Jerusalem.

Here was the situation: Assyria was north of Jerusalem with a buffer of Israel, Samaria, and a few small kingdoms between them. At this time Israel and Judah are two separate nations with the city of Jerusalem in Judah.

Assyria was described by a teacher of mine as the ancient world’s Nazi regime. Brutally they conquered one people group after another, reducing the buffer of small kingdoms between Jerusalem and the prevailing Assyrian army. First, one kingdom was defeated, then another. Perhaps this was no big deal to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but I imagine that everyone’s foreheads started to perspire a little when they heard that Samaria was defeated. With Samaria (a larger nation) taken over, only one nation stood between the Assyrians and Judah’s border: Israel.

Israel didn’t hold out, it was defeated as well, and to make matters worse, the fortifications of Judah dropped the ball too. The enemy blazed a trail through army after army until finally it was on the doorstep of Jerusalem with sword in hand.

At the darkest hour King Hezekiah received a letter from the Assyrian king further threatening Jerusalem that it’s destruction was imminent and that there was no hope.

And in this desperate state, Hezekiah took the letter he received from the Assyrian messenger and laid it out before the God of Israel. He then prayed this prayer:

“O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; listen to all the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God. It is true, O LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste all these peoples and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, O LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God.” (Isaiah 37:16-20 NIV)

Did you catch the last part? so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O LORD, are God. Once again we see the fame of God taking precedence over everything else. It’s true that God protects us, but never let that be the main theme. If you read the rest of the story, you’ll see the way that God steps in and saves the day. Could you imagine the conversations that would go on in all the neighboring nations, Assyria included? Imagine people standing around a fire, one of them mentions the invasion of the Assyrians, and then another one speaks, “Did you hear about the God of the Hebrews and what he did to the Assyrian army?” and the story is told.

In fact we see the nations react to this incredible story in 2 Chronicles 32:22-23. Tribute is brought to Hezekiah, and he is honored by many kings. But what do you think happened when these nobles and kings went to Jerusalem? They saw the temple, they saw the priests, and they saw how different Israel was compared to all other nations.

For the entire story, read 2 Kings 18-19, 2 Chronicles 32, and Isaiah 36-37.

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