The story of King Sennacherib of Assyria versus King Hezekiah of Judah is a type of what will happen in the end time. It also confirms the theme of the Hebrew portion of the Book of Daniel, which was sealed.
Today we’ll begin our exploration of the Hebrew section of the Book of Daniel.
We explained last time that the Hebrew section of the Book of Daniel is “the little book that was sealed” that the Angel of the Covenant held in His hand in Revelation 10. At that time the little book had been opened, but they had prophesied incorrectly. So the angel told John the Revelator to “prophesy again” about the things written in this little book.
The Hebrew section of the book actually starts with Chapter 1. We’d explained that although Chapter 1 serves as an introduction to the entire Book of Daniel, by virtue of the language God chose to write it in, it’s part of the Hebrew book.
We’ll see momentarily why this chapter is so important.
The Hebrew narration picks up again in Chapters 8 through to Chapter 12, the last chapter in the book.
There are two things we’ll be doing in today’s study to lay the foundation for understanding the little book that was sealed and then opened:
- Do a quick recap of the important themes of the Aramaic chapters. These themes will be woven into the Hebrew chapters as part of the larger story.
- Consider two parallel passages in Isaiah 36 and 2 Kings 18 and 19. These passages tell the story of when King Sennacherib of Assyria wanted to take over Judea. In this story there’s also a deliberate choice of using the Hebrew language over Aramaic. What happens in the story is a preview of what will happen to God’s people and the wicked when Jesus comes.
Recap of the Aramaic Section of the Book of Daniel
Chapter 1 is an introduction to the whole book, presents diet as the key to overcoming and standing true to God. Diet is also the key to knowledge, wisdom and understanding.
Chapters 2 and 7
These chapters are about the succession of world kingdoms. This succession ends with the destruction of all world kingdoms and the establishment of God’s everlasting kingdom.
Chapters 3 and 6
Chapters 3 and 6 deal with the persecution and death penalty that God’s end time people will be subjected to. God’s people are allowed to go through the persecution, but the Lord is with them in the trial. Ultimately God delivers His people.
Chapters 4 and 5
Chapters 4 and 5 are right in the center of the chiastic structure of the Aramaic section. These two chapters the fall of Babylon, the evil empire that oppresses God’s people. Babylon falls because of her pride and self-sufficiency, and because she couldn’t discern between the sacred and the profane. She desecrated what God had made holy and instead raised up the ordinary as though it were holy.
Chapter 7 is a transition chapter
Chapter 7 is a transition chapter and is slightly more complex than the preceding Aramaic chapters. Chapter 7 brings us into the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary where the final judgment is taking place. The sanctuary is an important aspect of the Hebrew section.
Chapter 7 is also a third witness to the judgment of the great whore of Babylon, which appears in this chapter in the guise of the little horn or the papacy. We find out that the papacy is judged for three reasons:
- blaspheming against God
- making war against God’s people
- thinking to change God’s times and law
The little horn is found guilty and sentenced to burning by fire. The kingdom is then given over to the saints of the Most High.
This is all pretty important and has a direct bearing on God’s people today. Let’s now move into an interesting story in Isaiah and 2 Kings that prefigures the big theme of the little book. In this story the choice of using the Hebrew language over Aramaic was very significant.
The Theme of the Little Book that Was Sealed
The theme of the Hebrew section of the Book of Daniel is the great war between Jesus and Satan.
In the Aramaic section that great war is shown through the succession of world kingdoms. Satan opposed and hurt God’s people through those kingdoms.
We’ll see that in the Hebrew section the great war is more overtly Satan himself against Jesus (although sometimes it’s Satan working through anti-christ). However we need to dig a little bit because on the surface it still appears to be a battle between kingdoms. The real great war is coded in the text.
The war ends with the deliverance of God’s saints and the establishment of God’s Kingdom. This is the finishing of all things.
In our next study I’m going to take you through the evidence for what I’m stating here. But there’s a second witness I want us to consider today. It’s amazing to me how in different Bible passages the Lord places clues to the beautiful mysteries in His Word that confirm that which He shows us.
The Story of King Sennacherib of Assyria and King Hezekiah of Judah
In Isaiah Chapters 36 and 37 we find the story of how Sennacherib King of Assyria came to make war against King Hezekiah of Judah, the southern kingdom. Remember that because of Solomon’s idolatry, the children of Israel had been split into the kingdom of the north and the kingdom of the south. Sennacherib had come up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them (Isaiah 36:1).
The broader context was that King Hezekiah was a good king, faithful to the Lord. He’d implemented a large number of religious reforms. He took down the high places where the Jews committed idolatry against the Lord. Hezekiah also restored some of the Hebrew sanctuary feasts which had been neglected by the people. As you can imagine, Satan wasn’t very happy that he was losing ground within the southern kingdom.
On the other hand, the Hebrews of the northern kingdom had been taken captive to Assyria by the former king of Assyria, Sennacherib’s predecessor. Hezekiah King of Judah had witnessed how the Lord allowed this to happen because of their transgressions. Hezekiah had worked hard to ensure that didn’t happen to his kingdom.
After enclosing Jerusalem in a siege, Sennacherib King of Assyria sent his Rabshakeh with a great army to threaten three officers of King Hezekiah’s court. Rabshakeh is actually a title that means Chief of Staff or Governor. Hezekiah’s three officers were Eliakim the high priest, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the court recorder.
King Sennacherib’s Deputy Rabshakeh Threatens King Hezekiah’s Three Officers
Rabshakeh the Assyrian king’s representative mocked the Judeans for having removed the high places of counterfeit worship and for seeking to ally themselves with Egypt for protection against Assyria. Rabshakeh also outright lied, saying that the Lord had told him to go up against Judah and destroy it! Then he King Hezekiah’s representatives to make a pledge of loyalty to King Sennacherib.
All this time Rabshakeh was speaking to Hezekiah’s officers in the Hebrew language. Now listen to this extraordinary exchange. I’m reading from Isaiah 36 starting in verse 11:11 Then said Eliakim and Shebna and Joah unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, unto thy servants in the Syrian language for we understand it; and speak not to us in the Jews’ language, in the ears of the people that are on the wall.
(In other words, Hezekiah’s officers were saying: “We speak your language. We don’t want the rest of the Jews to understand what you’re saying”. Syriac is a dialect of Aramaic. Hezekiah’s officers didn’t want the rest of the Jews who were on the wall to hear Rabshakeh’s blasphemous and mocking words).
12 But Rabshakeh said, Hath my master sent me to thy master and to thee to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men that sit upon the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you?
( Rabshakeh was determined to insult and humiliate the Jews).
13 Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria.
14 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you.
15 Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord, saying, The Lord will surely deliver us: this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria.
16 Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me: and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern;
(Sennacherib wanted Hezekiah to make an alliance with him, and he was promising them a golden cage).
17 Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards.
18 Beware lest Hezekiah persuade you, saying, the Lord will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?
19 Where are the gods of Hamath and Arphad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim? and have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?
20 Who are they among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?” (Isaiah 36:14-20).
King Sennacherib is a type of Satan
What’s the significance of this passage? Let me tell you. Think of the King of Assyria as a type of Satan. In antiquity the Assyrians were known for their great cruelty.
Rabshakeh is speaking to Hezekiah’s officers and to the people on the wall in the Hebrew language. Insolently he blasphemes against the Lord by misrepresenting Him – the Lord never told Rabshakeh to go up against Judah to destroy it. He was also scornfully casting doubt on God’s power to deliver His people and the land out of the hand of the Assyrian king.
Rabshakeh was promising the Jewish people comfort and prosperity in exchange for their allegiance to him instead of to the Lord. He wanted to persuade them by offering them corn and wine, bread and vineyards
Now isn’t that interesting? Brothers and sisters, this is exactly the end time scenario that will be played out very soon. This is precisely what we’re getting ready for!
Satan, working through his emissary the pope of Rome, will threaten God’s people to pledge allegiance to himself by taking the mark of the beast and renouncing their covenant with the Lord. The reward will be comfort and prosperity: corn and bread and wine. Those who don’t take the mark of the beast to stay true to God will suffer great hardship as a result of not being able to buy and sell.
Hebrew language is a signal to take note
And what’s the clincher? That all of this is pointedly said in Hebrew, not in Aramaic, despite the explicit request of King Hezekiah’s officers. By this the Lord is confirming for us what is the major theme of the Hebrew Book of Daniel: the continual struggle between Jesus and Satan until Jesus’ total victory.
Let’s pick up the story again in Isaiah 37 (remember that we find the same story repeated in 2 Kings 18 and 19). Listen closely because this is a preview of what will happen to God’s people and their enemies at the very end of time.
The three Jewish officers go to King Hezekiah with the report. The King rents his clothes and goes to the temple to pray to the Lord. Then the prophet Isaiah intercedes before the Lord who sends a message back to Hezekiah.
Listen to what the Lord said through the prophet Isaiah: “6 And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say unto your master, Thus saith the Lord, Be not afraid of the words that thou hast heard, wherewith the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. 7 Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land” (Isaiah 37:6-7).
Doesn’t anti-christ also speak blasphemies against the Lord?
Rabshakeh sends threatening letter to King Hezekiah
The plot thickens now. During this time Sennacherib King of Assyria had been fighting against other nations. So Rabshakeh sent a follow-up letter to King Hezekiah by the hand of messengers, saying:
“Let not thy God, in whom thou trustest, deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.
“11 Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands by destroying them utterly; and shalt thou be delivered? 12 Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed, as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Telassar? 13 Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arphad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? 14 And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord” (Isaiah 37:10-14).
King Hezekiah was distressed because the King of Assyria was ravaging all these nations. So he pleaded with the Lord for deliverance for Judah from the hand of Sennacherib.
So the Lord was incensed against the King of Assyria because he continued his provocation against the Jewish people and against the Lord. The Lord spoke to him in language similar to the language He employed in Job Chapter 41 referring to Leviathan. Leviathan as you know is a sea monster, a form of Satan.
The Lord responds to the King of Assyria and to Judah
The Lord said: “27 ‘But I know your dwelling place, your going out and your coming in, and your rage against Me. 28 Because your rage against Me and your tumult have come up to My ears, therefore I will put My hook in your nose and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way which you came” (Isaiah 37:28-29).
Now listen to this, I love it! The Lord now talks to Judah:
“30 And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah
Shall again take root downward,
And bear fruit upward (they’re the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb!).
31 For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant,
And those who escape from Mount Zion.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.’
32 “Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria:
‘He shall not come into this city, (the city symbolizes God’s saints)
Nor shoot an arrow there,
Nor come before it with shield,
Nor build a siege mound against it.
33 By the way that he came,
By the same shall he return;
And he shall not come into this city,’
Says the Lord.
34 ‘For I will defend this city, to save it
For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.’ ”
(2 Kings 19:30-34).
Judah pre-figures the end time remnant
What remnant is this that the Lord is referring to? Let’s read from Matthew 24 so you can make the connection:
“16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take anything out of his house:
18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19 And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:16-22).
So the Lord is talking about His end time elect, who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus. The remnant are those who will obey the signs and leave the cities by the appointed time. The King of Assyria – that is to say, Satan – will not be allowed to hurt the remnant. God will defend and deliver that “city” for Jesus’ sake.
Assyrian army destroyed
And now, the people of God are given the victory as the Assyrians are utterly annihilated. “35 And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord (Jesus) went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead”. The destruction of the Assyrian army is a type of the Great Tribulation, when all the wicked are receiving the seven last plagues and ultimately perish when Jesus returns. God’s people are totally protected from the plagues and are delivered by the angels at Jesus’ Second Coming.
King Sennacherib killed
To finish the story: When the King of Assyria returned home defeated, two of his own sons killed him by the sword, exactly as the Lord had said. This will also be Satan’s portion. After the Millenium at the second resurrection which is the resurrection of the wicked, his own followers will turn against him and destroy him.
God’s people delivered
Judah, God’s people was totally safe and delivered out of the hand of the King of Assyria. The zeal of the Lord of hosts performed it. Mount Zion, the city of God, will also be preserved from the attack of the wicked.
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Glory be to God!