Isaiah’s Prophecy

Isaiah 37:5-7. “So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah. And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.”

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Isaiah, inspired by God, assured Eliakim and his friends that God would spare Jerusalem. Rabshakeh and his men had blasphemed God.  They would find that He was not to be blasphemed with impunity.

The blast in v. 7 turned out to be an angel armed with a mighty sword, who killed 185,00 soldiers in the Assyrian army in one night. The rumor may have been the news that King Tirhakah of Ethiopia was marching against Assyria, causing Sennacherib to return to Assyria, where he was killed by two of his own sons.

We will see all these details working out in the rest of the chapter.

Hezekiah’s Request

Isaiah 37:3-4. “And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. It may be the Lord, thy God, will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left.”

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I can only imagine the fear that must have consumed the minds and hearts of Hezekiah and the men he sent to Isaiah for counsel.  They knew what the Assyrian army was capable of. They understood that their city and their lives were about to be destroyed, and there seemed to be no help for it.

They told Isaiah that this day was a day of trouble.  Indeed it was.  Trouble, rebuke, blasphemy, and weakness.  The people were called to account for their idol worship, for their turning away from God, for their lack of character in the face of a challenge from Rabshakeh.  The example they used  was that of a woman in hard labor who did not have the strength to  push the child out of her womb. She was helpless.

Hezekiah’s message to Isaiah was, “It may be that the Lord thy God.. …will hear your prayer and deliver us.”  It wouldn’t seem that Hezekiah’s faith was very strong, and that he recognized his own weak relationship with God.  He seemed to know that Isaiah had God’s ear, and he was asking Isaiah to intercede for Jerusalem with God, hoping that God would heed the prayer of Isaiah.  Apparently there was still a remnant–a few people in Jerusalem–who trusted God.  Hezekiah asked Isaiah to pray that God would deliver Jerusalem for the sake of the remnant there who still obeyed God.


Prayer and Counsel

Isaiah 37: 1-2. “And it came to pass, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth, unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz.

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After Hezekiah understood the full import of Rabshakeh’s threats and decrees, he was filled with sorrow and probably a lot of fear. He tore his clothing, as was the custom in times of distress, and replaced it with rough, humble burlap. Then he went into the house of God to pray.

The first Person he turned to was God.  That is as it should be.  So often, we go there when all else has failed.

The second person he turned to was Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz.  Another wise choice.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Back to Church!

It’s Saturday night,  almost 8:30.  I’m writing tonight, as I sometimes do,  to save some time in the morning.

I think I’m actually going to go to church tomorrow!  I’ve missed four Sundays,  which  for me  is just unheard of.  It makes me sad that this sort of thing has happened all too frequently in the past couple of years.  I hope this is the end of it for a while.  I hate being sick, hate missing out on my normal activities.  I miss the fellowship, the teaching, the preaching of God’s Word.  So I’m really looking forward to tomorrow,  It’s good to feel good again.


I may be jumping the gun, but I’m hoping that we don’t get any more deep-freeze temperatures this winter.  It’s hovering in the 40’s right now, and that’s completely bearable for the end of February.   I’m looking SO forward to spring.  I was noticing, on my way home from work the other day, that the grass in all the yards in my neighborhood is a yellow-brown color.  It feels like things are just kind of waiting. . . .anticipating. . . .gathering as much sunshine as possible  as green season approaches. One of the things I enjoy about winter is that spring is sure to follow.

Aren’t you thankful for the wonderful world God has created for us?  I Timothy 6:17 tells us that God has given us all things richly to enjoy. Even winter. There is beauty in winter if you  see it through God’s eyes. Snow is amazing stuff, creating a fairytale landscape that sparkles like diamonds.  And it is in winter that the earth can hibernate, at least in the northern climes. Sort of like I had to do for most of this month–rest, restore, replenish.

And I do look forward to spring.  Just a few more weeks, and things will start budding and popping,  and giving a glorious bouquet of color to brighten our lives.  We don’t have long to wait 🙂


Billy Graham

I have seen many, many posts about Billy Graham. I’m old enough to have vague memories of when he got started. There is no doubt about his impact for Christ, and he was indeed a vital, inspiring preacher of the gospel. He was one of the greats of the last century, and this century as well. And so, by the way, was his wife.


I have also read that people have heard or read that now that Billy is gone, the power of the gospel will disappear from America.

Dr. Graham would be the first to stand against such an encomium. It is true that his influence was world-wide, and many thousands of souls are and will be in heaven because of his work.

But the Holy Spirit of God is not removed from America or any other place in the world because of the death of one man, no matter how much of a giant of God he may have been.

I’m thinking of the thousands of humble pastors laboring in churches large and small across America. Many of them are underpaid and overworked. Many will live their lives, serving God and their congregations, with no fanfare or recognition. Their wives will labor quietly beside them, and never achieve national prominence.

When they step on shore and find it heaven, touch a hand and find it God’s, I believe they will hear the exact same words as Billy Graham: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Billy Graham may have been America’s pastor. That was the call God placed on his life and in his heart. It is no less a calling to be the unknown, faithful pastor of a church no one will remember 50 years from now. The work needs to be done. God calls men and women to do it. And He gifts them according to their calling.

When Christ comes to take all believers out of this world, THEN the Holy Spirit will be removed from this nation and all the nations of the world. In the meantime, let’s not forget to honor our pastors and other ministers of God in our local churches.

Billy Graham deserves the praise he is receiving, but I’m dead certain he would simply bow his head and say, “All glory to God.”

No Good News

Isaiah 36:21-22. “But they held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not. Then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, that was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.”

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Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah obeyed Hezekiah’s order. They were not to answer Rabshakeh. They remained silent, but they were in such inner turmoil that they did something typical of their time. They tore their clothing in their grief and dismay, and reported back to Hezekiah in that condition.

I’ve never been tempted to tear my clothing when I get bad news, but to do so was customary back then. It was an expression of grief, of sorrow, and perhaps of a sense of helplessness. These three men knew exactly what their city faced at the hands of Assyria, and there had been no chance of coming to any sort of truce with Rabshakeh.

I can imagine the heaviness of their hearts as they made their way back to the palace to see Hezekiah and tell him their news.

Rabshakeh Spells it Out

Isaiah 36: 13-20. “Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria. Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you. Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me: and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his  fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern: Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards. Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, The Lord will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim? and have they delivered Samaria  out of my hand? ”

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Rabshakeh ignored Eliakim and made a direct appeal to the people watching from the walls. He told them not to trust their own king, Hezekiah, who was powerless to deliver them. He told them not to trust in the Lord God of Israel, because He hadn’t saved anyone from the assault of the king of Assyria.  He told them that if they gave gifts to the king of Assyria, they could all stay in their own land until  the king of Assyria took them to another land just like their own, where they would be happy and content.  He told them that none of the gods of other nations had protected them from Assyria.

It was quite a speech.  Reminds me of some of the deceitful campaign speeches we hear in every election cycle–promises of milk and honey, of comfort and peace.  We are foolish to be deceived by such rhetoric, and the Jews who were impressed by Rabshakeh were just as foolish.

If it had existed at that time, I’m sure someone would have wanted to give Rabshakeh and the great king of Assyria the Nobel Peace Prize.

The Response

Isiah 36: 12. “But Rabshakeh said, Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?”

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If  you didn’t see yesterday’s post, now would be a good time to go back and read it so that you get the whole setting.

Eliakim has asked Rabshakeh to speak in Syrian, which most Jews did not understand. Eliakim’s purpose is to try to keep the watchers on the walls from losing heart at Rabshakeh’s derisive speech.  But Rabshakeh has different priorities, and in this verse he descends even further.  Not only is he derisive and threatening, but he also becomes vulgar and offensive. He uses the most crude language he can think of, knowing full well that the Jews carefully followed the dietary laws of what was clean and unclean.

What he is saying here is that their situation will become so desperate that they will have no choice but to do what he describes.  Not much could be more offensive to them. But then, in the next few verses, he descends even farther into his threats and fear-mongering.

Not a good guy, Rabshakeh.  Not at all.

A Request

Isaiah 36:11. “Then said Eliakim and Shebna and Joah unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, unto thy servants in the Syrian language: for we understand it: and speak not to us in the Jews’ language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall.”

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During this historic meeting, there were people watching from the walls above Eliakim and Rabshakeh.  Rabshakeh’s  entire demeanor, including his words, was one of overbearing arrogance.  He was rude, insulting, and unkind.

Eliakim was concerned that, because Rabshakeh was speaking Hebrew (the Jew’s language) that the people watching and listening from the wall would be weakened in their determination to stand against the King of Assyria.  Eliakim requested that Rabshakeh speak in Syrian, which he and his companions understood, in order to keep their conversation from frightening the listeners above.

Rabshakeh’s reply was predictably and totally self-serving.   We’ll see what he said tomorrow.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Snow

I just finished my coffee, so I guess I’d better write.

I was fully intending  to return to church today for the first time in four Sundays.  I’m not completely clear of whatever the gunk is that has stolen my voice, but slowly, I’m returning to whatever is normal for me. However, it doesn’t look as if I’m going to make it.

It started snowing last night somewhere between 7 and 9 p.m.  By 9, it was a veritable fairyland outside. Very little wind.  Big, fat, stick-to-the-tree- branches snow.  The forecast was 6 or more inches in the Lehigh Valley.  We’re a little south of that point.  I don’t know how much they got, but we got at least six inches.

Terry switched on the front porch light, and what a beautiful sight it was!  Every tree covered,  pure sparkling white as far as we could see.  If I had the equipment, I’d have taken the picture.  Let’s see if I can find one.


A lot like this.  Only dark outside, and utter stillness.  Nothing moving on the road, no snowmobiles, nothing.

This morning, Terry was outside with the plow he has hooked to our riding mower, clearing the driveway.  Apparently the trucks had already taken care of the road in front of our house.

And the sky is that heartbreak winter blue.  Temps are going to be over 40 today, so most of this late-season snow will be gone pretty quickly.  In fact, as I type I’m watching big globs of the stuff fall from the branches of a tree near the road, creating a mini-cloudburst each time.

And finally, this passage from the book of Job, chapter 38, in which God reveals Himself in nature.

1Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said,

2Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

3Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

4Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.

5Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?

6Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;

7When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?

9When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,

10And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,

11And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed?

12Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;

13That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?

14It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.

15And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken.

16Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?

17Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?

18Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.

19Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof,

20That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?

21Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great?

22Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail,

23Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?

24By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth?

25Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder;

26To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man;

27To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth?

28Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?

29Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?

30The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.

31Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?

32Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?

33Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?

34Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee?

35Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are?

36Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart?

37Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven,

38When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together?

39Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions,

40When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait?

41Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.

King James Bible