After these deeds of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah; he encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them over to himself. And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come, and that his purpose was to make war against Jerusalem, he consulted with his leaders and commanders to stop the water from the springs which were outside the city; and they helped him. Thus many people gathered together who stopped all the springs and the brook that ran through the land, saying, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?” And he strengthened himself, built up all the wall that was broken, raised it up to the towers, and built another wall outside; also he repaired the Millo in the City of David, and made weapons and shields in abundance. Then he set military captains over the people, gathered them together to him in the open square of the city gate, and gave them encouragement, saying, “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. (2 Chronicles 32:1-8)
An Arm Of Flesh
Sennacherib was a ruthless Assyrian king that chose to fight the wrong nation at the wrong time. He came to Judah with more than 185,000 men of valor to vanquish the two remaining tribes of Israel and their king, Hezekiah. The presence of the Assyrians brought fear wherever they sent their armies and Hezekiah knew this invading army would not stop until his nation was destroyed. Undaunted, the king of Judah prepared for a long siege that was characteristic of the battle plans prior to the final blow of conquest. He denied the water so necessary for the Assyrians and made repairs to the city. Weapons were manufactured in abundance as the king made great preparations to defend the city of God. One of the most important things Hezekiah did was to exhort the people to have faith in God. All the fortifications and machines of war were useless if the Lord God was not fighting for them.
The king of Judah exhorted his people to be strong and courageous. It was a frightful thing to look out over the hillside and see the massive Assyrian army camped ready to kill everyone in the city. Sennacherib’s army was ruthless and merciless. The people of Judah knew how terrible the Assyrian army could be as they watched helplessly the northern tribes of Israel vanquished by the hand of the invading army. Now the power and might of Assyria stood at their gates. Hezekiah knew that with the thousands of soldiers that stood before him, they were outnumbered. His words of encouragement were remarkable because he told the people that although the Assyrians seemed unbeatable, the people of Judah outnumbered the invading army. The contrast was Sennacherib fought with an arm of flesh and the people of Judah had the Lord on their side. Faith won the battle.
Hezekiah’s words to the people were realized when the Lord sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. One angel killed one-hundred-eighty-five thousand soldiers in one night. Isaiah, the prophet, had also prayed and cried out to heaven for deliverance. Sennacherib fled back to his home and was killed by two of his sons as he worshiped in the temple of his false god. The king of Assyria fought with an arm of flesh. He could not stand against the mighty arm of the Lord. Despots cannot stand before the mighty power of the Lord God. The victory of Hezekiah reminds us of the power of God and that nothing can change the course of the will of the Lord. Men will try and they will always fail.
The story of Sennacherib’s defeat is important to realize that God reigns in the affairs of men and continues to work His will in the lives of His children. Prayer is a powerful means of exerting the might of the Lord against the foes of life. Hezekiah’s speech is testimony to the faith in a power higher than an arm of flesh. Men have tried to change the church of the Lord to fit their mold of worship but to no avail. Churches created by men are failing because arms of flesh build them. Morality governed by the desires of the flesh can only end in the destruction of society. History repeatedly shows what happens when men follow their own fleshly desires refusing to listen to the word of God. Warmongers bring fear to the world but only for a season. Hezekiah exhorts all men today to look to the only one who can bring peace and safety. With God – we are a majority. Now that is a great story.