Isaiah 37 – Jerusalem Delivered
Vs. 1-4 Hezekiah is contrite and mourning over his rebellion against God’s judgment. The trouble came from the alliance made with Egypt. This is a picture of extreme distress and suffering. Hezekiah finally turns to God for help..
Hezekiah appeals to an error the Assyrian field commander makes. In Ch. 36 the field commander admits that the Lord (Yahweh) ordered them to march against Israel and destroy it. However, he goes to far. He compares the God of Israel to all other gods. If no other country and none of their gods could stop Assyria he contends that Israel and Yahweh can’t stop them either.
Vs. 5-7 Isaiah responds by telling Hezekiah, through his officials, not to be afraid. The field commander’s words are blasphemy against the Lord. The English translations of this verse don’t really give the full impact of what happens to the field commander. In Hebrew it literally says, “Surely I will send a spirit (ruah) upon him and he shall hear a rumor and will return to his own land and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.” The idea that God sends spirits of all kinds to do his bidding is something we don’t talk about very often in the Christian church. God is sovereign over all. The fact that He gives us freedom out of His perfect love should not conflict with His ability to enact His perfect plans for Israel and the world in any way. What happens to the field commander sounds similar to what happened to King Saul in 1 Samuel 16:14 or the spirit of perverseness in Isaiah 19:14.
Vs. 8-13 The field commander returns to King Sennacherib while he is in battle. He has defeated one territory, is defeating another, and has one on the way. He feels invincible and can’t see God’s intervention in his victories. He sends a delegation back to Hezekiah telling him that it is hopeless for him to trust in his God. He makes the same mistake as the field commander and blasphemes the God of Israel and compares Him to the God of the nations/gentiles.
Vs. 14-20 When Hezekiah hears the news his response is to go into the temple and pray. He spreads the letter out before the Lord. He appeals to God as the creator of heaven and earth. He appeals based on Sennacherib’s blasphemy. He acknowledges Sennacherib’s victories but makes the point that all of their gods are not living. He is the only living God. All of their gods were burnt up because they were man made things made out of burnable stuff. He asks for deliverance so the world would know that Yahweh is the only one true and living God.
Vs 21-29 God answers Hezekiah’s prayer. He says that he will fail to take Jerusalem because of the Assyrian blasphemy. He has done all the damage he will be able to do. He will return to Nineveh in failure.
Vs. 30-32 He gives them a sign based on the harvest. The first harvest had already been planted so they will eat that harvest. The second harvest is while the Assyrians still occupy so it will be based on what springs up from the first harvest. It will be a lot thinner that year. The third harvest they will be able to plant again and they will have a full harvest again. It is a comparison to the coming kingdom of Judah based on the faithfulness of the remnant and their return to Jerusalem.
Vs. 33-35 Jerusalem will survive.
Vs. 36-38 Notice what happens to Sennacherib. In one night a massive number of his army is destroyed by the Angel of the Lord. He is then murdered by his own sons. His sons took his inability to take Jerusalem as weakness. In Sennacherib’s own annals he claims to have “Shot Hezekiah up like a bird in a cage.” In a way it was true, but it was an attempt as saving face. What happened to him was a total undoing of Sennacherib’s blasphemy. He claimed to be more powerful than Hezekiah’s God. He taunted Hezekiah and threatened to essentially end his reign and take over the temple. What actually happened was Hezekiah appealed to God in His temple, God delivered Jerusalem. Sennacherib was murdered by his own son’s in the temple of his god.