April 9, 2011

Minor Prophets LXII: The Lord Protects Those That Repent

As is often (or should I say always) the case. God's actions enter real history and in the case of Micah and Isaiah's prophecies about Assyrian incursion to Judah and by default Jerusalem, these events are actually documented in other sources other than the Bible. In this case Sennacherib's Prizm and the Siege of Jerusalem. So...when did the Assyrians invade Judah in Micah's (and Isaiah's) lifetime and what was the result? Let us turn back the pages of time in the Bible and revisit a city about to be laid siege by hordes of Assyrian troops....

Sennacherib succeeded his father Sargon II to the Assyrian throne. Hezekiah hedging his bets imprudently decides to withhold tribute that has kept the Assyrians off of Judah’s back. In terms of troops it may have seemed a prudent step due to others rebelling against Assyria but spiritually it was suicide. Logistically it was stupid idea to stand toe-to-toe with Assyria also. Assyria had conquered mercenary type troops and absorbed them in their ranks (i.e.: battle hardened). Hezekiah may have been able to band together a coalition of rebellion but they would’ve been no match man-for-man against a seasoned army like Assyria. Isaiah had denounced the rebellion in Isaiah 30:1-2 and said because of this decision Babylon would one day carry Judah off to captivity. Micah also confirmed Isaiah’s dire prediction and walked about stripped and wailing as an attempt to mimic or picture the plundering Assyrians ravaging his homeland. They would reach right to the gates of Jerusalem. In Isaiah’s prophecy the fall of Jerusalem is actually foretold. Micah actually foretells of a time when the Lord would actually redeem His people (4:9-10).

Having said this, in history we see Sennacherib arrive marching down the Plain of Sharon crushing all resistance in 701 B.C. According to Sennacherib when referring to Hezekiah, “He did not submit to my yoke. I laid siege to 46 of his cities…drove out 200,150 people…and took livestock beyond counting…”. While laying siege to Lachish he also laid siege to Jerusalem. Although He boast of locking Hezekiah up inside the walls of his city like a “bird in a cage”…he admitted his failure to take Jerusalem.

As we know from the Bible, Hezekiah repented and Micah boldly predicted Jerusalem’s miraculous survival by divine means. We see in 2 Kings 19:35 that: “…it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.” The siege army is struck with a plague of an unknown sort  or origin and appear to have been marginally decimated. The Lord was true to His word delivered by Isaiah:

Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David." 2 Kings 19:32-34

Of course secular historians refuse to acknowledge any supernatural intervention and the death of nearly 200,000 Assyrian troops is hotly contested by those with an anti-Biblical world view. They only take into account the Assyrians own account of the incident on Sennacherib's Prism which would’ve been biased and slanted showing Assyria in a favorable light obviously prejudicing the account. If I have a choice I will side with the biblical account as being accurate. Modern historians are often wrong…the Bible is not. Since we know for a fact Jerusalem still stood after this so-called account on Sennacherib's Prism and stood until the its fall in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians (which also overtook the Assyrians)...it appears Sennacherib was a fanciful manipulator of the truth. Kind of like our modern brethren that don't even believe God intervened on behalf of Jerusalem. Whatever it takes to build a case to support their fabricated beliefs or outright denial or lies.

Baker, David W., T. Desmond Alexander, and Bruce K. Waltke. "Introduction." Obadiah, Jonah, Micah: An Introduction and Commentary. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1988. 138-143. Print

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