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.

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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.

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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

 

It’s All About ME!

Isaiah 36:9-10. ” How then will thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for the chariots and for horsemen? And am I now come up without the Lord against this land to destroy it? the Lord said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.”

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May I put this in my own words, including Rabshakeh’s attitude which was reflective of Sennacherib’s own haughtiness?

“You foolish, pathetic weaklings! You can’t even deal with ME, one lonely captain with a few soldiers, because you haven’t enough men to create a small army.  You can’t trust Egypt, you fools! Didn’t God Himself tell the great King of Assyria to come up and destroy this paltry land you value so much? ”

It was true that God had put it into the mind of Sennacherib to punish Judah for her idolatry; for turning their backs on the Holy One, the God of Israel.  But God had NOT told Sennacherib to destroy Judah; only to punish and perhaps bring them back to the worship of the true God.

Sennacherib, however,  wasn’t into subduing and allowing God to work. He wanted to destroy.  Obliterate. Take over.  Add Judah to his list conquests.  It wasn’t about God, it was about Sennacherib, making himself a name for the present and the future.

 

Boasting

Isaiah 36:6-8. “Lo, thou  trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt: whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him. But if thou say to me, We trust in the Lord our God: is it not He, Whose high places and Whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and said to Judah and to Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar?  Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them.”

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Hezekiah had refused to pay tribute to the king of Assyria, imposed upon Judah in the days of Ahaz. He had relied on Egypt to help him, but Egypt was nothing but a “broken reed” that would inflict harm on those who relied upon it.

Rabshakeh made three boasts on behalf of his king:

  1. You are weak.  If I gave you 2000 horses, you could not find men to ride them.
  2.  Your trust in Egypt is unfounded. We have made them weak, like a broken reed.
  3. Your God will not help you.After all, He commanded us to come up against you. Hezekiah himself has rebelled against your God by removing His little altars.

That last boast, in particular, shows the complete lack of understanding of Who God is. Hezekiah had indeed removed “little altars,” but they had been erected for the purpose of idol worship. They were not for the God of Israel, but for the gods of the people who surrounded Israel and who did not worship the one true God.

Go To Work!

I just had a session with someone a little younger than I, who shares the same work ethic most people of our generation do.  She works very hard.  She fills in when people much younger than she is don’t show up because they “need some Me Time.”  She’s a department manager, expected to make sure everything runs smoothly, but she’s short-staffed and overworked because there aren’t enough employees; or they aren’t properly trained; or they just don’t feel like working, but they certainly show up on payday expecting a full paycheck.

And they don’t seem to suffer any guilt whatsoever when they leave their coworkers and managers spinning in the wind.

On the other end of this mess is the upper management that sets high expectations but don’t give her the staff she needs to meet those requirements.

She’s physically exhausted.  She’s sick with a “cold” that has now lasted for over six weeks. I think she’s headed for a breakdown, and I’m wondering if she’ll lose her job when it happens.  The emphasis seems to be totally focused on results, not on the people who are hired to create those results.

So why doesn’t she quit?  Get a better job?  Lots of factors there. One is her age. She knows she won’t be paid as well if she makes a lateral move to another store, and she is on her own. There is no golden parachute.

She’s told me stories.  Oh my,  Things that, if they had happened when I was first in the work force, would have been immediate cause for dismissal. A couple of 20-year-old guys who take half- hour breaks and two- hour lunches, and when they’re confronted they shrug and say they lost track of time. And no action is taken to discipline them. No one wants to start the process of getting them fired because it’s really, really hard to fire people these days. You could end up in court, paying them huge unemployment salaries for the next six months to a year.   Wouldn’t have happened  in 1965, when I started working.

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They seem to set their own hours and availabilities, too. They work when they  can schedule it in to their day.  They call out on the flimsiest pretexts.  “I’m just really tired, Man,” (Translate:  “I’m drugged to the eyeballs, or I have a hangover.  But it’s your problem, not mine.”)

Yes, yes.  I know that there are lots of good young people out there who are willing to work, who even WANT to work.  They have parents who taught them the value of work, of making their own way, of having a good work ethic and a reputation for being dependable. I know some of them. They’re great.  I wish there were more of them.

I’m just worried about my client.

 

I Am the Greatest!

Isaiah 36:4-5. “And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest?  I say, sayest thou, (but they are but vain words) I have counsel and strength for war: now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me?”

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Sennecharib was pretty sure of himself.  He had reason to be.  He hadn’t failed yet in his conquests, and he saw Jerusalem and Judah as being of very little consequence.  His message to Hezekiah is full of taunts and put-downs.

The title by which Rabshakeh refers to him was commonly used in reference to him–The Great King, the King of Assyria. He was someone to be reckoned with, and his cruelty was and still is legendary.  People got into line, or they suffered.  Horribly.

So his message to Hezekiah, put into more modern terms, was this:

“In what or in whom is your confidence?  You say you have counsel and strength for war, but I say your words are empty.  You have nothing or no one who can resist me!”