Assyria was one of the major word empires of the ancient world. Located northeast of Israel in what we know today as northern Iraq, Assyria was at its height during a difficult time in Israel’s history, a time of division and mistrust. Civil war had cut the nation in half with ten tribes in the north, called Ephraim, and the southern tribes to the south, called Judah. So when Assyria began making its southern expansion and the Northern Kingdom fell, Judah was in trouble.
King Hezekiah made weapons of war and dug a tunnel so Jerusalem would have a source for water if attacked. They also made a decision which stirred the anger of God. Judah figured, “If we are going to have a chance to win this battle, we need some help from Egypt! And Egypt had a new ruler who was willing to help Judah. God’s word through the prophet Isaiah is clear, “Don’t trust in Egypt, you faithless people!” (Isaiah 30:1-3, 31:1-3)
The message for us is this … in all of our lives we have our own personal Assyrias, and for every Assyria we have an Egypt. There are forces which weigh down heavily upon us, situations which tax our abilities to figure out what we will do. And there are good ways and bad ways to handle these situations. “If only I had this, then life would be grand!” “If I only had more money, or a different mate, or different look.” I was TV surfing and came across a show where a girl was having her leg bones broken and fused. Why? For no other reason than so she could gain two inches in height. She didn’t like her looks so she turned to her own version of Egypt.
Perhaps this battle is felt most intensely in or financial lives. When the lottery was up to $800 million I have to admit I was tempted to go buy a lottery ticket. I could rationalize all the way to the bank that I could give 99% of my winnings to a lot of happy charities and missionaries that would see their anonymous donation as an answer to prayer. It SEEMS to make sense, but then Egypts always SEEM to make sense.
Friends, God knows our needs. He is the one in charge of the windows of heaven. He has promised to be God, our provider. The interesting thing about Hezekiah’s encounter with Assyria is that in the end, even after all of Hezekiah’s preparations, his army didn’t have to fight a soul. God has the power to fill our needs without us having to violate our conscience or convictions to help Him out.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, but we rise up and stand firm.” Psalm 20:7-8