January 13, 2014

Mega Thanatos II: 185,000 Dead & The United States of Assyria

Another mass death is mentioned in 2 Kings 19. It is the story of Sennacherib and King Hezekiah.

2 Kings 19:35 ~ “That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!

What we are seeing here is a humiliating defeat for the Assyrians. God had promised that he would deliver His remnant from their enemies and that is what we see here. God’s people would then be able to take root and prosper again. This is Sennacherib’s Waterloo. The numbers against them and possibility of victory for Jerusalem looked insurmountable. As we learn all throughout Scripture, what seems impossible to man is not only possible to God…it is probable. In one night the Angel of the Lord destroys 185,000 Assyrian lives. Sennacherib’s forces are decimated. He literally packs up what’s left of his troops and goes home. All of his pagan gods could not save one of his 185,000 men. All the power he boasted of previous to this night was all for not.

What got him to this point? Earlier in 2 Kings we would see Sennacherib march 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 boasted of locking Hezekiah up inside the walls of his city like a “bird in a cage”…yet he admitted to his failure to take the city of Jerusalem. It should’ve been and open and shut case.

As is always the case, God's actions enter real history.

This particular events is actually indirectly documented in other sources other than the Bible. In this case Sennacherib's Prizm and the siege of Jerusalem. As we know from the Bible, having initially ignored the prophets and imprudently refusing to pay Assyrian tribute, Hezekiah repents and Micah boldly predicted Jerusalem’s miraculous survival by divine means. We see in 2 Kings 19:35 that: “That night the angel of the Lord went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies!” The siege army is struck with an unknown catastrophe. To call it a plague is to miss the language of the passage. It is literally a divine deliverance and the vehicle of deliverance is not stated in the text anywhere. The Assyrian enemy is obliterated on Jerusalem’s doorstep. 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

So why were the Assyrians decimated? First, we must recognize God does all things for the glory of His own name. How did this bring Him glory? Jerusalem were God’s people. Stiff-necked and rebellious but His people none-the-less. A remnant within this city would be His true holy people. Assyrians on the other hand were pagan. Not just any pagans mind you. They were brutally inhumane and cruel not only to enemies but even their own people. Assyria was a brutal regime known for diplomatic misdealing, extreme heavy-handed tactics and torture such as flaying people alive, dismembering and impaling them. It was not uncommon for the recently conquered to be led away as prisoners by forcefully piercing rings through a prisoners lips and attaching them daisy-chain style like wild animals on hooks.

They systematically slaughtered people without regards to age or sex. These are the types of things that would be visited back on the Assyrians and Sennacherib himself. It is morbidly ironic that such a mighty and brutal military leader would meet his untimely end through similar deceptive means like those the Assyrians would use on their enemies. He would die through an assassination. By the very measure Assyria metered out to others, so to the punishment would be metered out to them.

What was even worse was Assyria’s negative spiritual influence on those they subjugated or “enslaved”.  Nations were literally spiritually prostituted by Assyrian control and by her “witchcraft” (Nahum). Assyria had spread their idolatrous ways through bad influence to those they conquered and enslaved. So not only did they physically and politically enslave and torture people through military means, more importantly…they also spiritually enslaved people through their spiritual decadence and idolatry.

This would quickly become intolerable to God. So these 185,000 dead would essentially be a warning shot over the bow of the empire. When Assyria eventually fell 185,000 troops would pale by comparison. Sennacherib and the siege of Jerusalem were not a homicidal God Killing innocent soldiers, it was God measuring out judgment on inhumane and brutal men that had spread their spiritual contamination far and wide. God was exterminating this army like an infestation in the Promised Land. A land that had been overrun with disease infested spiritual cockroaches.

What we should realize is if God would do this to the Assyrians, there is little preventing Him from eradicating similar spiritual contagion from spreading and infecting nations now. We must consider this when we think about the morally debased garbage the United States markets domestically and abroad that has negative spiritual effects on people like movies, books, porn and immoral lifestyles. God will not remain silent forever without passing judgment on a reprobate nation like ours. If people claim we are more advanced, civilized or humane than the Assyrians, then these people are blind to the methods of abortion that we use on nearly 1.5 million unborn children every year that are murdered in this country. America is ten times more inhumane than Assyria ever was, we are just more covert and efficient about how we implement our barbarism. As a matter of fact, all the outward signs of a nation under judgment are currently manifested by the US and we should take note and repent. Sadly, I don’t see us doing this and we are going the way of Assyria in our sin. We are literally becoming the United States of Assyria at a spiritual level. Just like the time of the prophets...judgment is due us now.

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