TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 35-37
On the surface, Isaiah 36 and 37 contain a story of a historical conflict between Hezekiah, the king of Israel, and Sennacherib, the king of Assyria. But, underneath the surface, Jesus can be seen in the deeper meaning.
Isaiah 36:1 says that this conflict took place in the 14th year of Hezekiah’s reign. The number 14 symbolizes deliverance and salvation throughout scripture. Israel was delivered from Egypt on the Passover, which took place on the 14th of the day month. In Acts 27:27, it was on the 14th night after the storm arose that sailors of the ship Paul was on suspected they were nearing land. And, it was on the 14th day of the month, on the Passover, that Jesus was crucified, which set us free from our bondage to Satan and the powers and idols of this world.
Depending on the source, Sennacherib means bramble of destruction or the moon god Sin has increased the brothers. Bramble is a thorny bush. In Judges 9, bramble is the tree that desires to rule over the other trees.
Sennacherib sent the Rabshakeh to deliver a message to Hezekiah. Rabshakeh means chief cupbearer. Since the Rabshakeh was coming on behalf of Sennacherib, he was bearing the cup of destruction.
Hezekiah means Yahweh strengthens or the strength of the Lord. Here Hezekiah is a picture of Jesus. Jesus was strengthened by the Father. And, Christ crucified is the strength or power of God.
The Rabshakeh told the people of Jerusalem to not listen to Hezekiah. He said that Hezekiah would not be able to deliver them. Instead, the people of Jerusalem should make peace with Sennacherib, who is a picture of Satan. If they make peace with Sennacherib, they will have their “own” vine, their “own” fig tree, water from their “own” cistern, and your “own” land.
There is very reminiscent of how Satan deceived Eve. Satan told her if she ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that she would be like God. But, she would have to disobey God, turn her back on God, to do so. This is just what Sennacherib is doing here. Through Rabshakeh, he told the people of Jerusalem to not trust in Hezekiah, Jesus, for deliverance. God could not really provide for them. But, he would give them everything they desired.
At one point during the conflict, the Lord told Hezekiah through Isaiah that Sennacherib would fall by the sword in his own land. In other words, it would be by his own power that Sennacherib would be destroyed.
Also, Hezekiah went up the house of the Lord to pray. The conclusion of his prayer was, “So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.”
The end of Hezekiah’s prayer reminds us the end of Jesus’ prayer the night before he died. In John 17:18, 20-23, Jesus said, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world…I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” Just like Hezekiah, Jesus is praying that the whole world, all the kingdoms of the earth, would know God the Father alone is the Lord.
In this story, we also see a picture of Jesus drinking a cup of destruction for this is what Sennacherib to Hezekiah through the Rabshakeh. Jesus committed to drinking this cup in the garden so that we would not have to drink it. But, ultimately, the cup of destruction could not destroy Jesus.
Once already in the story the Lord said Sennacherib would by fall the sword in his own land, or by his own power. But, twice more something similar is said. Isaiah said that the Lord has spoken concerning Sennacherib, “I will turn you back on the way by which you came.” And, “By the way that he came, by the same he shall return.” That the enemy will destroyed by his own weapon or be turned back by the way he came is a recurring theme throughout the scripture.
This is exactly what Jesus did to Satan on the cross. Jesus did not destroy Satan with a sword or with strength or with power. Instead, Jesus defeated Satan with his own weapon. Jesus sent Satan back by the way that he came.
How did Satan come?
By death. He was a murderer from the beginning.
So, how did Jesus defeat Satan by the way that he came?
Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
Jesus defeated Satan, the one who had the power of death, through his own death. Jesus used Satan’s own weapon against him. No force or violence was required.
In the story under consideration, this was symbolized in that “the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians.”
The number 185 is never mentioned in scripture. But, it is interesting that the number 185 has only two divisors – 5 and 37. These are the only two numbers that you can multiply together to get 185.
Most know that the number five symbolizes grace. But, not many know what the number 37 means. A close study of scripture will reveal the number 37 is found all over scripture. But, I will give just one example for know. Using one type of gematria (the ordinal type where the letters have a number based on their place in the alphabet), the value of the Hebrew word for wisdom is 37. All throughout scripture we can see that the number 37 symbolizes wisdom or truth.
So, what could this number 185,000 represent?
That the angel of the Lord struck the Assyrian camp with grace and truth. John 1:16-17 says, “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
If we look by the Spirit, then Jesus is all over the conflict between Hezekiah and Sennacherib.