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            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” (V. 35).

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 Almighty.

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 great slaughter?

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 God?


                                                    IS GOD CRUEL?  MAIN LIST

© Copyright, Michael Caputo, 2005

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