Fighting The Foe By Faith

Title: Fighting The Foe By Faith

Bible Book: Isaiah 36 : 1-2

Author: Donnie L. Martin

Subject: Faith; Victory



The text is found in Isaiah 36:1-2; and, Isaiah 59:19.

Inherent in the life of the child of God are the inevitable trials, tribulations, and battles that seem to dog our steps. Jesus Himself said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33b). Jesus was simply saying that the trials of life are inevitable. However, we can learn to be over-comers by learning to trust He who overcame the world, and all that it could throw at Him.

Standing at the ready in the very midst of our battles and trials are two highly interested entities. Satan, on one hand, stands ready to discourage and defeat us, while God, on the other hand, stands ready to encourage and empower us for victory.

The battles of life may take many forms, but Satan uses them all to accomplish one initial reaction in the heart of the Christian—Fear. You see the devil knows that if a child of God is living in fear, he cannot be living by faith. One cancels out the other. Those two principles cannot coexist. Satan knows that if a saint lives in fear, their defeat is a foregone conclusion. The outcome of every conflict in life is determined by whether one responds to it in fear or in faith. Outlook determines the outcome.

In today’s text, we have an excellent example of Satan’s strategy against the saints. Hezekiah was faced with a grave dilemma. The nation of Assyria was threatening to attack Jerusalem. The cities around Jerusalem had already suffered defeat, resulting in the capture of over “200,000 prisoners,”1 according to secular history. The situation was such that anyone would have been a little anxious, to say the least.

Though King Hezekiah experienced some anxiety over the probability of battle, he did not allow his anxiety and fear to rule him. He responded to his initial fear with determined faith toward God. This response opened the way for God to bring about deliverance. Faith in God will accomplish the same for us.

Theme: Hezekiah’s battle with the enemy had three phases…

I. The Fear Engendered By The Enemy’s Threats

A. There Was A Verbal Threat

1. Hezekiah was told not to count on the strength of his allies.

Isaiah 36:4-6, “And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? 5 I say, sayest thou, (but they are      but vain words) I have counsel and strength for war: now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? 6 Lo, thou trustest in the staff of this broken reed, on Egypt; whereon if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all that trust in him.”

The word “Rabshakeh” is actually a title, not the messenger’s name. It is the “…title of a high court official (originally a royal cupbearer, since the name means ‘chief wine-pourer’).”2

It is interesting to note that twenty-three years earlier, Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, had to make a  decision at this same aqueduct mentioned in verse two. Unfortunately, King Ahaz decided to trust the armies of Assyria to fight his battles, rather than God. Now, the ally of Ahaz had become the antagonist and attacker of Hezekiah. Be careful what you rely on in times of trial. Trusting anything other than God will likely be your undoing. As the old song says, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand/All other ground is sinking sand.”3

The obvious intent of this Assyrian military official was to knock all the props out from under Hezekiah and his people. In reality, Judah could not trust Egypt for deliverance because Assyria had already captured and controlled the road to Egypt.

2. Hezekiah was told that his army lacked sufficient military ability.

Isaiah 36:8-9, “Now therefore give pledges, I pray thee, to my master the king of Assyria, and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them. 9 How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put thy trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?”

In verse eight, the Assyrian messenger basically makes fun of the obvious military weakness of Judah. In essence, he said, “Look, I’ll make you a deal (“give pledges”). If you can find riders for them, my master will give you two thousand horses to help your war effort.”

Our enemy, Satan, loves to get us focused on our weaknesses. For one thing, when he speaks about our weaknesses, he speaks the truth. However, when he speaks about God and His strength, and our position in Christ, he always lies. The Bible says, “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4: 4b). It also says, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth  me” (Phil.4: 13). Don’t argue with the devil about your weaknesses; agree with him. After all, he’s right. But the fact is, if you face trials and temptations relying on the Lord and His strength, your weaknesses have nothing to do with the outcome.

Satan’s purpose in your trials is to get you to focus on you. God’s purpose in your trials is to get you to focus on Him.

3. Hezekiah was told that Judah’s destruction was by God’s authority.

Isaiah 36:10, “And am I now come up without the Lord against this land to destroy it? the Lord said unto me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.”

The statement made here was essentially true. God was in fact using Sennacherib to judge Judah   as a whole for their idolatry. But the situation at Jerusalem was a little different. Hezekiah, a godly king, had made reforms, ridding the city of idolatry. Because God had determined judgment upon Judah as a whole, did not mean that He had determined to destroy Hezekiah and Jerusalem as well.

When God’s children are going through trials and troubles, Satan loves to lie to them and tell them that God is against them. “After all,” he will say, “look at how many times you’ve messed up in the past. God is angry with you. That’s why you’re having all these problems.” Unless you are rebellious against God, and have known sin in your life, don’t fall for that lie. Sure you’ve sinned and messed up in the past. All of us have. But the Word of God says, “…the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1: 7b).

Jesse Pen-Lewis, a great saint of the past, once said, “The devil and his wicked spirits will speak, or use, ninety-nine parts of truth to float one lie.”4

The people of Jerusalem were told that Hezekiah was deceiving them with false assurance.

Isaiah 36:14-15, 20, “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. 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?”

The king of Assyria had sent word by his messenger saying, “Don’t listen to Hezekiah’s nonsense about God delivering Jerusalem. He’s just avoiding the inevitable—he’s not living in reality.” That sounds just like what the devil tells a lot of folks every Sunday: “Don’t listen to that preacher. After all, he’s just preaching. He’s supposed to tell you to trust God. But you know the only one you can really trust in a tight is yourself.”

In verse 20, the messenger basically said that none of the other gods of the land had delivered their people. Why should Jehovah be any different? He was trying to put Jehovah and idols on the same level. However, he would soon find out differently.

B. There Was A Visible Threat

Isaiah 37:9b-14, “…And when he heard it, he sent messengers to Hezekiah, saying, 10 Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God, in whom thou trusteth, 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.”

All the visible evidence indicated that Hezekiah and Jerusalem were done for. He had an official letter of intent from the king of Assyria; and the cities that the Assyrians had already destroyed were visible evidence that they were capable of doing what they threatened to do.

Folks, the child of God is not supposed to live their life merely by what they see. Paul said, “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (II Cor.5: 7). Rather than throw his hands up and surrender to the enemy, Hezekiah took the letter “…and spread it before the Lord” (v. 14). When it comes to your trials and troubles, the enemy doesn’t have the last word, God does. Paul, through the Holy Spirit, gave us these reassuring words: “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom.8: 37).

II. The Faith Exercised By The King’s Tactics

A. After Verbal Threats, Hezekiah Humbles Himself

After the verbal threats, Hezekiah humbled himself. He asked Isaiah to intercede before God.

Isaiah 37:1-54, “And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. 2 And he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests covered with sackcloth unto Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. 3 And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. 4 It may be the Lord thy God will hear the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God, and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that is left.”

Hezekiah’s first response to the threat of the enemy was to humble himself before God. That’s quite unlike many people of our day, who permit themselves to become hardened by their trials rather than humbled by them.

Hezekiah’s humility before God receives an immediate response from God.

Isaiah 37:6-7, “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.”

This meant good news for Hezekiah and Jerusalem. God, through the prophet Isaiah, told Hezekiah that the siege would be lifted, due to the fact that Sennacherib would receive word that his own country was under attack (vss. 7a, 8 & 9).

Not only would the siege be lifted, but also the king of Assyria would be killed.

You know folks, most of the time we can’t hear from God about a trial or situation in our life because we are too busy trying to figure out what we’re going to do next. What we need to do is humble ourselves before God in prayer about what we’re facing.

B. After Visible Threats, Hezekiah Humbles Himself

King Hezekiah prays in faith. He prays trusting the greatness of God.

Isaiah 37:14-16, “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. 15 And Hezekiah prayed unto the Lord, saying, 16 O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth.”

George Mueller was a great man of faith. He believed in the greatness of God, and prayed accordingly.

A Christian steamship captain, a contemporary of George Mueller, once told of an experience involving Mueller’s great faith.

While sailing off the coast of Newfoundland in extremely heavy fog, Mueller came to him and said, “Captain, I need to tell you that I must be in Quebec on Saturday afternoon.”

The captain told him that it was simply not possible, due to the weather conditions.

Mueller said, “Very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way, for I have never missed an engagement in fifty-seven years. Let’s go down to the chartroom to pray.”

Again, the captain protested, saying, “Mr. Mueller, do you realize how dense the fog is?”

“No,” replied Mueller, “my eye is not on the dense fog but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.”

The captain then told how Mueller knelt down and prayed one of the simplest prayers he’d ever heard. When he finished, the captain himself started to pray. But to his surprise, Mueller put his hand on the captain’s shoulder and told him not to pray.

“First,” he said, “you do not believe God will answer, and second, I believe He has. Consequently, there is no need whatsoever for you to pray about it. Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been even a single day that I have failed to get an audience with the King. Get up, Captain, and open the door, and you will see that the fog is gone.”

The captain got up, opened the door, and sure enough, the fog was gone. And George Mueller made his appointment for Saturday afternoon in Quebec.5

Note that C.S. Lewis once said, “He who has God and many other things has no more than he who has God alone.”6 Folks, God is sufficient.

He prays anticipating the glory of God.

Isaiah 37:17-20, “Incline thine ear, O Lord, and hear; open thine eyes, O Lord, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent to reproach the living God. 18 Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, 19 And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. 20 Now therefore, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord, even thou only.”

Notice that Hezekiah did not minimize the situation that he and Jerusalem were in. He simply saw God as being bigger than the situation.

Again Hezekiah receives God’s favor. He receives the promise of future prosperity.

Isaiah 37:3-31, “And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such as groweth of itself; and the second year that which springeth of the same: and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof. 31 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward:”

He receives the promise of God’s protection.

Isaiah 37:33-35, “Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it. 34      By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. 35 For I will defend this city to save it for mine own sake, and for my servant David’s sake.”

III. The Fall Experienced By The Assyrian Tyrant

A. The Assyrian Army Died Miraculously

Isaiah 37:36, “Then the angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.”

B. The Assyrian King Was Murdered

Isaiah 37:37-38, “So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. 38 And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adramelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Armenia: and Esar-haddon his son reigned in his stead.”


1. Leon Wood, A Survey Of Israel’s History published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan; pg. 361.

2. Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everett F. Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: published by Moody Press, Chicago, Illinois; pg. 634.

3. “The Solid Rock,” by Edward Mote.

4. Jesse Pen-Lewis, War On The Saints, published by Thomas E. Lowe, Ltd., New York, New York; pg. 236.

5. L.B. Cowman, Streams In The Desert, edited by James Reimann, published by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan; pgs. 314 & 315.

6. C.S. Lewis.

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