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  • Rick LoPresti

The reasoning of Rabshakeh

In the days of king Hezekiah of Judah the Assyrians invaded. The king of Assyria sent messengers to Jerusalem (2Ki 18-19, 2Chr 29-32). The main speaker was a man called Rabshakeh. He attacked Jerusalem but not with soldiers and weapons. He attacked with words. The saying "sticks and stones mat break my bones but names will never hurt me," is only partially true. Words represent thoughts, beliefs, and ideas. They have spiritual portent. Jesus said, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Mt 12:36)." God chose to save our souls through words - the words of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom 10:14, 1Cor 1:21).

In order to understand the meaning of the words of Rabshakeh, we need to know something of the background that led up to his words to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Moses warned Israel several times that one of the consequences of them forsaking God after inhabiting the promised land was that God would allow their enemies to invade the land and conquer them (Lev 26:16-46, Deut 28:25-68). Because of the sins of Solomon, God said the nation of Israel would be divided into two nations. This happened in the days of Solomon's son Rehoboam (1Ki 11-12). 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel became the kingdom of Israel, and 2 tribes became the kingdom of Judah. The kingdom of Israel fell into idolatry and sin right away, and never recovered. The kingdom of Judah had its ups and downs until they finally provoked God into judgment. God sent the Assyrians against Israel first, and it was destroyed (2Ki 17). Then the Assyrians invaded Judah as well and took city after city until they arrived at the capital which was Jerusalem.

King Hezekiah was one of the best kings Judah ever had, and he led them back to God. However, he did not have a strong sense that God would fight their battles if they trusted in Him. He saw the fall of Israel and most of Judah. When the Assyrian king first sent to him, he said he had offended, and offered to pay whatever the Assyrians demanded. He took the silver from the treasuries of the temple of God and his own, and gave them to Assyria. He took the gold off of the doors and pillars of the temple and gave that as well. Attempts at appeasement with the enemy never work. He is not satisfied until we are destroyed. The Assyrians went away, but only for a little while. They came back, and now Rabshakeh was at the wall of Jerusalem. He brought forth a reasoned argument why they should surrender. His points are important to understand, because the enemy of our soul tries to use them against us today.

He called his king the great king. He was contrasting the apparent power of the king of Assyria to what he wanted the men of Judah to see as their weak king and kingdom. The devil wants us to think he is control and has the power. He could not attack Job without permission from God (Job 1-2). He could not stop a man possessed with 6,000 demons from running to the feet of Jesus and being delivered (Mk 5:1-20). If the destroyer controls everything, then why doesn't he just destroy us all now and be done with it? Rabshakeh asked the Jews on what basis they could have any confidence. He said Hezekiah's words of encouragement to them were empty. He asked them if they were trusting in Egypt who was like a broken reed. He asked them if they trusted in God. He said Hezekiah had taken down all of His altars except one. Actually Hezekiah had taken down all of the idol altars and directed the worship to the true altar of God at the temple, but Rabshakeh was attacking their faith in God. He was saying their relationship with God was insufficient for them to expect any deliverance from Him.

Rabshakeh said they were rebelling against Assyria. He presumed the final victory and the authority over the people of God.He told them to give pledges to Assyria. Pledges were money like a security deposit on an apartment or a downpayment on a mortgage. He was telling them they no longer owned the land God had given them, and they were now going to to have to pay Assyria to live on their own land. Satan wants us to believe he owns the spiritual territory God has given to His people.

Then Rabshakeh said he would give the Jews 2,000 horses if they had enough men to put on them. This was an insult. He asked how they would even be able to turn away even the least captain of the army of Assyria. The devil wants us to think we are weak and unable to fight him.

Then he brought out his biggest weapon of all. He said God sent him to destroy their land. Based on the warnings of Moses and the history of Israel's failures, they actually did deserve judgment; but they had made huge steps in returning to God. He wanted to negate all of that. Hezekiah's men asked Rabshakeh not to speak in Hebrew because they did not want his arguments to kill the faith of the people of Jerusalem. So he did it even more. He told them not to let their leader Hezekiah deceive them into believing they could be delivered. He told them to surrender and offer a present, and if they did he would let them live in their own land for while longer. Then he would come and take them to a land just like theirs. The enemy wants us to think that giving up our faith is not so bad. It's not dangerous. He says the land he offers us is just like the one God promises us, so we are not really losing anything. He tell us his substitute is just as good as what God offers us. These are the same lies he told Eve in the garden (Gen 3:1-7).

Then Rabshakeh made a big mistake. He compared the one and only living God to the idols of the nations Assyria had already conquered, He said none of those gods had delivered their worshipers, and the God of Israel could not do it either. Hezekiah took that accusation to God in prayer, and asked Him to show them who He is. God will always defend His reputation. Many times in the Bible God said He did things for His name'sake. That means His reputation. Hezekiah sent messengers to the prophet Isaiah who told him not be fear the blaspheme of Assyria because God Himself would fight against Assyria. God also spoke to the king of Assyria. He said the weakest, youngests girls in Judah would laugh at Assyria. He said He would put a hook in his nose and turn him around. He said the king of Assyria thought he had all his victories because of his own power, but it was only because God did it. An angel of the Lord visited the camp of the Assyrian army in the night, and in the morning 185,000 of their soldiers were dead. They returned to Assyria, and their king's own sons killed him.

The enemy is the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12:10). He knows the blood of Jesus covers sin. He knows God brings us into a covenant relationship with Him. He knows we are more powerful in God than he is. He tries to bring up our past failures. He tries to make us doubt the word of God. He tries to make us think he is in control and not God. He tries to make us feel that we are not special to God. He wants us to believe that every difficulty is God judging us. He wants to think God is not able to save us. He cannot actually defeat us head on, so he tries to mess with our minds with what appear to be reasoned points, but they are just mind games to try to get us to not even raise our weapons of prayer and the word of God. He knows that if we do, he will lose and we will win. His only hope is to trick us into not even fighting. God is able to fulfill His word, and He has equipped us for victory. All we have to do is use what He gives is according to His word, and victory is certain (Rom 8:28-39, 2Cor 2:14, Eph 6:10-18).

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