You have heard this story before. Hezekiah faces off versus Sennacherib and the Rabshakeh. This account appears twice, albeit in different forms, in the historical books (see 2 Kings 18-19, 2 Chronicles 32). Why such Biblical repetition of these particular events?
For one, Isaiah is directly involved in prophesying protection for Jerusalem against Assyria, so it makes sense for Isaiah to repeat this story in the book he authors. This encounter with Assyria also drives at the heart of the story about Israel’s God, YHWH. The mockery distilled in the Rabshakeh’s false witness about God and his evident disregard for the power of YHWH shows the hubris of the kingdoms of humanity. The Assyrian Kingdom at this time was great and expansive. Still, God decisively reigned over them even then. Every day, we need to know that.
Moreover, God’s promise to bless Israel when they turn to Him in obedience finds fulfillment in this story as Hezekiah calls upon the name of the Lord for salvation. This story emphasizes God’s self-revelation through His people. God can rescue Israel from hundreds, thousands, and hundreds of thousands. When we read stories like this, I want us to perceive God’s strength and listen to Isaiah’s words to Hezekiah: “Do not be afraid” (Isaiah 37:5). Whatever strikes fear into our hearts— failure, loneliness, pain, or poverty— we have a God who is Lord of all.
Let us then heed both Isaiah and the message from angels to shepherds 2,000 years ago to be not afraid because of the great tidings of joy in Jesus Christ (Luke 2:8-12), God of the nations, come in the flesh. He has come to bring salvation to the world!