“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine…”
- Exodus 19:4-5
After Sennacherib took the Assyrian throne around 705 B.C., he spent his first year subduing a revolt in Babylon. Egypt took advantage of this distraction and sent emissaries to Judah, trying to forge an alliance with King Hezekiah. Up to this point, Judah had been under nominal Assyrian control –Hezekiah’s father had asked Sennacherib’s father for help against Israel and Aram – and Sennacherib quickly turned his army westward to deal with them.
The LORD is displeased with Hezekiah on multiple fronts: “Ah, stubborn children,” He declares in chapter 30, “Who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of My Spirit, who set out to go to Egypt, without asking for My direction, to take refuge in the protection of Pharaoh!”
The LORD has at least three charges against Judah. First, obviously, is that Judah did not consult Him regarding this plan. That may sound petty, unless you consider that Judah’s primary covenant was with the LORD; they were His treasured possession, not Assyria’s or Egypt’s. A concurrent charge is that asking Egypt for help was an acknowledgement that the LORD couldn’t protect them. Judah was both unfaithful and faithless.
But third, Deuteronomy 17 strictly forbids Israel’s king from causing the people to acquire horses from Egypt, “since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’” Egypt, that land of both refuge and slavery, was a perpetual tease throughout the Exodus and now, 600 years later, sustains its siren call.
In the background of these visions listen for the sounds of soldiers and horses, of chariots and siege works, of tumult and fear. It’s into this cacophony that Isaiah promises that “The LORD will cause His majestic voice to be heard… The Assyrians will be terror-stricken at the voice of the LORD, when He strikes with His rod… Battling with brandished arm, He will fight with them…”
Our verse for this week is James 1:22: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
Isaiah 28 through 30. Now let’s read it!
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.