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The first verse of Isaiah 36 sets the stage for a description of the most common temptations that humans face.
The setting was this: “In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, King Sennacherib of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them” (Isaiah 36.1).
As the Assyrian army massed outside the walls of Jerusalem, leaders from that country attempted to persuade God’s people to surrender. The words they used are typical of temptations all people must confront.
Question God’s Plan
The very first temptation began with a question of God’s willingness or ability to care for his creatures.
In the Garden of Eden, Satan tempted Eve with a question, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3.2).
This kind of questioning was echoed by leaders of the Assyrian army.
They said, “On what do you base this confidence of yours? Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? On whom do you now rely, that you have rebelled against me?” (Isaiah 36.4-5).
The underlying meaning behind this question is that God is not able or willing to be involved in the affairs of his people.
This question raises the issue of faith. Do we believe God is able and willing to help, or not?
In my experience, the only way to overcome the seduction of these words is to have a vibrant relationship with God. People who live in an obedient and close relationship with God are best able to continue to trust God in the face of such threats.
Anyone who has followed the Lord for some time knows that following Jesus is not always “rainbows and lollipops.” Obedience often comes at a high price and at times does not bring the good life we had hoped for.
Hezekiah had obeyed God and destroyed pagan worship sites. The Assyrian leaders viewed the false gods as being no different from the One True God. They reasoned that the king had destroyed what could help them.
They stood before Jerusalem’s wall and said, “But if you say to me, ‘We rely on the Lord our God,’ is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed, saying to Judah and to Jerusalem, ‘You shall worship before this altar’?” (Isaiah 36.7).
The person who says, “I tried God and he didn’t work, so I’m giving up on God,” has been taken in by the false teaching of Jerusalem’s enemies.
When we obey God but still have threats to our well-being, the temptation is to no longer trust God with our obedience. Instead, we may turn to self-sufficiency.
God’s Word Twisted
The goal of the enemy of our soul is to remove faith from our lives. He asks questions, makes false claims, and twists God’s word.
God indeed used Assyria to discipline his people. However, the leaders of the Assyrian army twisted this message into one that was designed to remove trust in God from the people.
They said, “Moreover, is it without the Lord that I have come up against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it'” (Isaiah 36.10).
When religious people refuse to submit the leadership of their lives to God, they twist the Bible to support their rebellion. Rather than living by the “whole counsel of God,” they cherry-pick verses that support their way of life.
God desires his people to know and do his will. The enemy’s plan is for people to live according to prideful trust in themselves.
Another deceptive trick of the enemy is to make false promises.
The king of Assyria promised a life that could only have been dreamed of by the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
He tempted the people with these words, “Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me; then every one of you will eat from your own vine and your own fig tree and drink water from your own cistern . . .'” (Isaiah 36.16).
Occasionally, I ask a crowd whether they think God can throw a good party or not.
The expression on their faces is quite telling. Without a doubt, society has bought the lie and believes that following God is boring, dull, and lifeless.
The temptation from the enemy is that if we surrender to his plan, we will have a life that is rich, powerful, and fun.
There is no possibility that the king of Assyria would have delivered on the boast to give the Hebrews their own home and land. His promise was entirely false.
The same is true of all temptations that attempt to negate our trust in God.
King Hezekiah was not deceived by the false words of the Assyrians. He placed his trust in God and God brought about a good outcome for the nation.
Today’s article warns us against the false words of the enemy. Tomorrow, we will see what we can do to deepen our trust in God.
About This Blog
Rudy Ross is an excellent student of Isaiah. Rudy and I have a video you can see on the Bob Spradling YouTube Chanel.
Rudy will bring a different dimension to Isaiah than what is in my blog. I hope you will check out and enjoy my interviews with him.
I am indebted to a book by Dr. John Oswalt on Isaiah for his insights into this powerful book.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.