WHAT IF GOD HAD
NOT HUMILIATED SENNACHERIB?
One of the most arrogant despots described
in the Bible is Sennacherib. The Bible tells us that, “in the fourteenth
year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib King of Assyria came up against all the
fortified cities of Judah and took them” (II Kings 18:13). In II Kings
18:17-23 we read that Sennacherib’s messengers went to Jerusalem to
ask Hezekiah and the people to surrender.
As the inhabitants of Jerusalem
looked down upon the surrounding army and Sennacherib’s messengers yelled
out to them: “Do not listen to Hezekiah lest he persuade you, saying, 'The
Lord will deliver us.’ Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered
its land from the hand of the king of Assyria?” (V. 32-33). The messengers
continued: “Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their
countries from my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem from my hand”
Because Hezekiah and the people
did not surrender, Sennacherib again sent his messengers to warn Hezekiah
that his God would not have been able to shield him from his power. Thus,
Sennacherib sealed his fate for having dared to elevate himself above God
The rest is history. Hezekiah
turned to God and besought Him for his intervention. God heard and
effectively humbled Sennacherib: “And it came to pass on a certain night
that the Angel of the Lord went out and killed in the camp of the Assyrians
one hundred and eighty five thousand; and when the people arose early in the
morning, there were the corpses—all dead” (19:35). Sennacherib, humiliated
and afraid, returned to Nineveh, and, as he was worshipping in the temple of Nishroch, his god, two of his sons killed him (35, 37). Thus ended the life
of the man who dared to show insolence before the great God of Israel.
What if God had not intervened
so drastically with Sennacherib? What if He had simply terrorized him and
his army so that they would have simply fled back to their land without the
The sin of Sennacherib was
exceptionally grievous, not just because he dared to invade the Holy Land,
but because he dared to show arrogance and insolence toward the Almighty.
God is longsuffering, but His patience seems to quickly come to an end when
He encounters arrogance and insolence. Nobody can rise up against Almighty
God and escape His wrath. Sennacherib dared to insinuate that his power was
actually greater than that of the God of Israel. This kind of sin inevitably
brings about very serious consequences.
God will not allow arrogance
from anyone to go unpunished. Sennacherib had to learn, like Nebuchadnezzar,
that there is only one Supreme Ruler, and that no one can dare oppose Him.
Because of his extreme insolence and because of the cockiness of his
servants and his armies, God intervened in a way that would leave no doubt
in anyone’s mind that the true Sovereign must not be contended with.
Tyrant after tyrant, through
the Millennia, have assumed that they are invincible, and that no power in
Heaven or Earth can stop them. This kind of insolence inevitably brings them
to their own demise. The lesson is there for all to read, but many have
not heeded it. There is only one Supreme Ruler who determines who rules and
who will not. There is only one supreme King that rules the nations and that
determines the rise and fall of all empires. The story of Sennacherib is a
reminder of this great truth. But will the arrogant ever heed the Word of