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Posts Tagged ‘Sennacherib’


Isaiah 36Strategy

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Sennacherib and his troops play a central role in today’s reading; these several sites may have something you will want to know: http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/article_index/s/sennacherib,_king_of_assyria.aspx

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/701sennach.html

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/534613/Sennacherib

Sennacherib

Isaiah 36 is the introductory chapter of an appendix inserted into Isaiah’s prophecy (and it parallels the account we can also find in 2 Kings 18).  When we read these verses carefully, we discover that this is more than an historical account.  It is also the story of fear and trust, loss and gain, rebellion against the Lord or obedience to him.  It is the story of failing and successful strategies.

In today’s Noontime, taunts are delivered to those inside the besieged city and if we read beyond this chapter – or if we recall the telling of this story from Kings – we will see that God never abandons the faithful.  We will also see that God has ways of resolving conflict that are far more creative, and far more meaningful, than any solutions we might devise.  Our only task – our only successful strategy – is to trust and follow God.

On what do you base this confidence of yours?  Do you think mere words substitute for might and strategy in war?

The commander ridicules his opponents for thinking that words alone will frighten his troops; he mocks them for their belief in an unseen God.  But he has also miscalculated.  Placing his confidence in military supremacy and acumen, he teases those guarding the city walls.  Perhaps the true reason for his jeering is that he knows that none of his gods can be stirred to help him.  He has conquered whole regions through the strength of his warriors, but perhaps he fears that he cannot conquer these people who believe in the authority of Yahweh and who have been saved so many times by this Living God.  He has heard about the God who saves the Israelites, but he has not personally experienced Yahweh’s awesome power.  Perhaps he cannot fathom a God who serves his people in such a faithful way.  He will soon have a lesson in obedience and trust.

On what do we base this confidence of ours?  Do we think mere words substitute for might and strategy in living?

As followers of Christ we know that words alone do not make us disciples; we must act in Christ and not rely on personal strength or a store of information.  James reminds us that we are to be doers of the word and not sayers only (James 1:22).  Thus, the strategies of the Christian fold into one plan: Love one another as Christ has shown us – do not judge, do not seek revenge, pray for all . . . even our enemies.

The ultimate end of the Israelite story is one all of us know and it teaches us the lesson that reliance on God when in danger is important but that ultimately we cannot succumb to corrupt and easy living.  We must be persistent in maintaining an honest relationship with God.  We must adhere to this new Law of Love rather than multiple empty rules that foster rote worship rather than genuine communion.

On what do we base this confidence of ours?  Do we think mere words substitute for might and strategy in living?

We base our confidence on God.  We substitute nothing for an authentic relationship with God and we publicly display this relationship daily in the way we treat others.  The only strategy we employ . . . is to hone true to God’s plan like a homing bird headed for home.


Image from: http://emp.byui.edu/SATTERFIELDB/Rel302/Sennacherib.htm 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 5, 2011.

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Zephaniah 3:18-20: Seek Restoration

Nubian Museum: Shebitku’s Statue

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The prophet Zephaniah wrote sometime between the years of 635 to 630 B.C.E.  His is a brief prophecy and its message is succinct: there is a day if universal judgment which will arrive surely . . .  and this judgment will be followed by restoration.  Earlier in this chapter he refers to the town of Cush saying that beyond the rivers of this town the scattered peoples will bring offerings.  Cush was located south of the upper cataracts of the Nile in the area referred to as Nubia.  It was a land of great wealth with commerce routes which brought to the Mediterranean materials such as gold and silver, cosmetics, balsam, incense, myrrh, ostrich eggs, and other wild animal products.  Jeremiah also refers to this place as a source of topaz.  Further, these people were from to time a powerful political force: the Nubian pharaoh Shebitku defeats the Assyrian Sennacherib in Israel in 701 B.C.E. – an astounding account recorded in 2 Kings.  (Zondervan 1519.)  Their power, however, seems to have collapsed after 671 B.C.E.

What does all of this signify?  The restoration this prophet foretells is universal.  It will be bestowed on even those who have been scattered as far off as Cush – even those who have been held captive by her alluring power and cosmopolitan life.

Sing, O Daughter Zion; shout aloud, O Israel!  Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem!  . . .  I will give you honor and praise among all the people of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your eyes.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1519. Print. For more about Cush, click on the map image, or visit: https://ancientpatriarchs.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/who-was-cush/ 

A Favorite from November 23, 2007.

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Isaiah 10: Social Injustice

Thursday, January 26, 2017 social-injustice

As we conclude our look at God’s inverted kingdom, we consider a Favorite from June 10, 2009, and we reflect on how Jesus might deal with the social injustice we find in our societies.

Isaiah 10 is book-ended by words that we hear so often during the Advent season: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom.  These words remind us that someone is coming great enough to take all of us in . . . and indeed, this one is already among us.  Today’s Noontime reminds us of what pulls us away from God and it draws clear imagery with Assyria and Sennacherib as vehicles not only of pain and loss, but ultimate transformation . . . if we but follow the Light, the Christ.  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom. 

Isaiah tells us clearly that when we trust the Lord we need not tremble before overwhelming odds.  If we move out of the darkness to stand in the light and obey the voice within, we have nothing to fear.  Do not fear the Assyrian, though he strikes you with a rod, and raises his staff against you. 

Isaiah reminds us that though we are small, we are also mighty . . . when we place our fear where it is best handled, in God’s capable hands.  The tall of stature are felled, and the lofty ones brought low; the forest thickets are felled with the ax. 

Isaiah repeats a theme often heard with the prophets: those who can remain faithful through the holocaust will be standing when all others have blown away like chaff in the wind.  The remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob, will no more lean upon him who struck them; but they will lean upon the Lord . . . a remnant will return . . . only a remnant will return.

Allowing injustice to happen without speaking or witnessing is the broad path taken by many; but it is not the marrow path taken by the remnant.  As Jesus tells us in Matthew (7:3) and Luke (13:24), most of us will succumb to a system that allows injustice for many the sake of the comfort of a few.  This remnant that remains in God will have to bend before the force of the storm, but all of this bending will be worthwhile.  This is the message that Isaiah brings to us: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom. 

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Isaiah 10Social Injustice

 Thursday, June 2, 2016renewal

Isaiah 10 is book-ended by words that we hear so often during the Advent season: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom.  These words remind us that someone is coming great enough to take all of us in . . . and indeed, this one is already among us.  Today’s Noontime reminds us of what pulls us away from God and it draws clear imagery with Assyria and Sennacherib as vehicles not only of pain and loss, but ultimate transformation . . . if we but follow the Light, the Christ.  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom. 

Isaiah tells us clearly that when we trust the Lord we need not tremble before overwhelming odds.  If we move out of the darkness to stand in the light and obey the voice within, we have nothing to fear.  Do not fear the Assyrian, though he strikes you with a rod, and raises his staff against you. 

Isaiah reminds us that though we are small, we are also mighty . . . when we place our fear where it is best handled, in God’s capable hands.  The tall of stature are felled, and the lofty ones brought low; the forest thickets are felled with the axe. 

Isaiah repeats a theme often heard with the prophets: those who can remain faithful through the holocaust will be standing when all others have blown away like chaff in the wind.  The remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob, will no more lean upon him who struck them; but they will lean upon the Lord . . . a remnant will return . . . only a remnant will return.

Allowing injustice to happen without speaking or witnessing is the broad path taken by many; but it is not the marrow path taken by the remnant.  As Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:3 and Luke 13:24, most of us will succumb to a system that allows injustice for many the sake of the comfort of a few.  This remnant that remains in God will have to bend before the force of the storm, but all of this bending will be worthwhile.  This is the message that Isaiah brings to us: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom.

A Favorite from June 10, 2009.

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Isaiah 22Euphoria

Louvre Museum: Sennacherib relief

Louvre Museum: Sennacherib relief

Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Favorite from July 4, 2009.

For the third day in a row we find ourselves in Isaiah’s prophecy and today we conclude the oracles against the pagan nations.  Interestingly, Isaiah includes Jerusalem in this litany.

Commentary tells us that here Isaiah warns against false hope – against relying on self rather than God.  Around the year 700 B.C.E. Sennacherib and the Assyrian invasion forces have been turned back from the city.  The people have mounted various defenses against the enemy and now they react with euphoria to the good turn of events.  Yet rather than rejoice in God’s loving providence that rescues and heals them for eternity, they celebrate their own skill which will not, in the end, save them from their own corruption and decadence.  They believe that their own planning, proficiency and leadership have saved them this day.  The leader Shebna is revealed for who he is: one who thinks of his own legacy and comfort at the expense of those he leads.  Eliakim is named as a loyal servant of God, a peg in a sure spot upon whom the glory of his family hangs.  Yet even this peg fixed in a sure spot shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the Lord has spoken.

wooden peg

Even the sure peg in the sure spot will give way, break off and fall . . .

When we survive disaster and come out the other side of a calamity intact and even renewed, we are to be joy-filled, we are to celebrate.  But today the prophet Isaiah cautions us to place our joy properly in God who saves rather than in ourselves.  We must never forget who it is who forms order out of chaos.  We must always be mindful that everything God creates is good, that God will convert harm to transformation, and that he rescues us because he loves us . . . not because he expects something from us.

We are creatures already set free, already liberated from the shackles we imagine.  When we find ourselves in bad times or with bad people, we seek intercession from God.  When we find ourselves in happy circumstances with wonderful people, we thank God who loves us beyond measure.  We return even our euphoria to the one who transforms.

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joyThursday, November 13, 2014

2 Chronicles

Joy in Return

We move forward in our journey as we visit with scripture looking for stories about joy that will amaze us in a number of ways. To explore other stories in which joy surprises us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our stories are from 2 Chronicles.

Hezekiah is a name long connected with the people’s return to the covenant promises. Scholars tell us that he repairs and cleanses the Temple erected by Solomon to house the Ark; he destroys the bronze serpent reported to have been created by Moses for miraculous healing because it had become an object of idol worship; and he invites the people to a new celebration of a special Passover in which the faithful renewed their promises to God.

Hezekiahs tunnelOnce his house is in order, Hezekiah leads the people in campaigns to push back the Philistines and Assyrians. He pleads with God for a longer life in order to complete his work of the people’s return and God grants this request (2 Chronicles 32).  He directs the building of a tunnel to bring water into Jerusalem so that they might survive the Assyrian siege that blockades the city. And he is rewarded when God sends an angel of death to wipe out hundreds of thousands of Sennacherib’s enemy troops in an astounding miracle.

It is no wonder that we read today: There was great joy in Jerusalem, because there was nothing like this in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel. (2 Chronicles 30:26) It is no wonder that there is great joy in this homecoming. It is no wonder that there is great joy in this return to promises made . . . forgotten . . . and finally remembered.

Might we also find joy in our own returning to celebrate the many small and big miracles in our lives? Might we also find joy in recognizing the amazing, loving presence of the Living God?

To see pictures taken inside Hezekiah’s Tunnel, click on the tunnel image above or go to: http://www.livingbylysa.com/2012/05/hezekiahs-tunnel.html

For a video tour of Hezekiah’s Tunnel, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boC7lOV-1PU

For more information on the miracle against Sennacherib, go to: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112337/jewish/The-End-of-Sennacherib.htm

 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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Thursday, January 19, 2012 – 2 Kings 19:21-31 – Preparation

Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago: The Sennacherib Prism

We have spent time reflecting on Hezekiah and his story of fidelity to God.  Today we make this story our own with prayer.  We make preparation to strengthen our faith; we prepare to trust in God alone.   Written on April 19, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Have you not heard it?  Long ago I prepared it, from the days of old I planned it. 

Not only is God eternal, so are his plans.  This does mean to say that our lives are predetermined or predestined in any way.  What this does mean to say is this:  God in his infinite and merciful economy has devised a way . . . and this way turns all harm to good . . . for those who join his remnant in foreign lands and foreign times.  For those who return to the covenant promise, for those who remain in the Spirit of the Beatitudes, there is a certain reward: life in the light which is the Mystical Body of Christ.  This is the good news we have heard proclaimed all Easter Week.  It is the same good news we hear proclaimed today.  There is no greater story.  There is no happier word.  There is no other love that waits in this way . . . for all to turn and return.

Caravaggio: Doubting Thomas

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday, or to others, Doubting Thomas Sunday in which we see one of Jesus’ own friends and disciples refuse to believe in the resurrected Christ until he is able to experience his visit with his own senses.  Out of overwhelming love and compassion, Christ returns to a locked room to comfort his remnant, to encourage his bride, the church.  As we have said before, there is no greater story.

In today’s reading, the king of Israel, Hezekiah, follows God’s advice and allows God to overcome the enemy king of Assyria, Sennacherib.  We have spent time reflecting on this incident before but today we focus on the isolated words of the Lord . . .

Have you not heard it?  Long ago I prepared it, from the days of old I planned it. 

And just as Yahweh turned harm to good in the story of Hezekiah and in the story of Jesus, so too does he move in our lives today.  We remember that the angel of the Lord struck down enemy troops.  We remember that the Lord himself came to save us on the cross.  And we also remember that even after his death he returned to the locked room where he friends hid in fear . . . to open hearts, to open minds, to open up the darkness to the light, to open up the stinginess of the world to his love.

As remnant, we do well to prepare to receive this deepest of hopes, this most powerful of forces, this irresistible love that cannot be quenched.

From the MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer: Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

That we may praise your power among those who are poor in faith, and encourage them by our good example.  Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

That we may praise your love among those who do not know you, and be Christ’s ambassadors to those who seek with sincere hearts.  Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

That we may praise your glory among those who fear death, and show them the path to life.  Strengthen us in faith, O Lord!

May God keep us firm to the end, irreproachable on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Evening Prayer.” MAGNIFICAT. 19.4 (2009): 129-130. Print.  

For more information on the Sennacherib Prism, click on the image above or go to: http://bibleandarchaeology.blogspot.com/2010/12/ancient-record-of-biblical-king.html

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Wednesday, January 18, 2011 – 2 Kings 19 – Fidelity is its Own Reward

We spent time reflecting on Hezekiah on Monday, today we look at another part of his story with a Noontime from November 24, 2008 posted today as a Favorite. 

Rubens: The Downfall of Sennacherib

As we read today’s Noontime, where have the opportunity to think about where we stand in human history.  The Assyrians with their leader Sennacherib have conquered the northern tribes that had broken away after Solomon’s death and now they stand ready to take Jerusalem.  Hezekiah, working closely with the prophet Isaiah, listens to Yahweh’s advice . . . and Jerusalem is spared the impending invasion.  In addition, we know from contemporary documents that two factors cause Sennacherib to turn away from Jerusalem: a plague came upon his troop encampment killing 185,000 soldiers, and word reached the Assyrians that Tirhakah of Egypt was marching out against them.  Sennacherib was later killed by his two sons (Adrammalech and Sharezer) while worshiping in the temple of Nisroch.  (ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE 562.) 

The themes we have seen in this portion of 2 Kings are the healing of Hezekiah, Yahweh’s intervention in human events, the importance of spiritual reform and preparation, and the high value placed on fidelity by Yahweh.

Several verses call us to deeper reflection. 

Verse 4: So send up a prayer for the remnant that is here.  Hezekiah and Isaiah know that the north has been lost . . . but they do not give up hope or faith.  They petition on behalf of the faithful who remain.

Verse 6:  Do not be frightened by the words you have heard, with which the servants of the King of Assyria have blasphemed me.  The Lord replies with words of comfort for these faithful servants.  The Lord reminds them that he will not only take care of his faithful remnant, but he will also address the wrongs done to them by their enemies.

Verses 15 to 19:  You alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.  You have made the heavens and the earth.  Incline your ear, O Lord and listen!  Open your eyes, O Lord, and see!  Hezekiah prays to Yahweh in the temple.

Verse 34:  I will shield and save this city for my own sake, and for the sake of my servant David.  The Lord replies.

Verse 35: That night the angel of the Lord went forth . . .

What do we know about ourselves?  We live in a tumultuous world which is ever ready to dismiss or overrun the faithful servants of Yahweh.  We will be challenged as New Testament apostles of this one true God.  Our ideas, our families will be invaded by forces which seek to diminish the voice we carry in solidarity. 

What must we do when we are under attack?  We have need of only one place of supplication . . . the temple of our inner heart where the Holy Spirit dwells.  We have need of only one name . . . Jesus Christ.   We have need of only one God . . . the one who is supreme above all others . . . and this God alone is enough.  Remaining faithful to God brings salvation.  Fidelity brings lasting justice.  Fidelity beings eventual peace.  Fidelity to God is always accompanied by its own reward. 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 562. Print.

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Saturday, October 29, 2011 – Micah 1 – False Idols

Golden Calf

Commentary will fill in any questions we have about the cities and places named in today’s Noontime.  Even without the detail of who is who and where is where and what is what . . . we know the message: Put aside all false idols and return to God. 

It is likely that Micah’s prophesy saved a nation for a time. “Micah is remembered in Jer. 26:18 as having uttered words of doom against Zion and Jerusalem that prompted Hezekiah to repent”.  (Mays, 660)  And it is likely that Micah’s prophesy can save us as well.  All of these names in the opening chapter might be removed and the names of our own cities and nations inserted.  What would we do if we heard these pronouncements about our hometown . . . our favorite shopping locations . . . the places in which our loved ones reside? 

Sennacherib sweeps into the Israelite homeland to take forty-some cities, including Jerusalem.  He also takes many captives.  This could have been avoided if the people had turned back to God instead of becoming addicted their unhealthy ways.  Micah does not treat God’s message lightly that he has been asked to deliver.  He is unambiguous and exact.  When we study scripture closely, we know that there is always a clear, appropriate and certain consequence for sins of omission and commission.  About this there is no doubt.  And so we pray . . .

Merciful and forgiving God, you send your prophets to us to warn us, to urge us, to exhort us to change.  Yet we are convinced somehow that we can barter when the time comes, that we can out-maneuver you, that we can hide our secrets from you, that our false idols will keep us safe and warm and whole.  Help us to see that you are wholeness and truth and so you know nothing but truth; and if we wish to live in you we must become accustomed to casting away all idols and dark secrets.  Help us to understand that you are safety and mercy and so you know nothing but mercy; and if we wish to live in you we must become accustomed to casting away all thought of envy and revenge.  Help us to believe that you are comfort and love and so you are nothing but love; and if we wish to live in you we must become accustomed to acting in love and compassion always.  We ask this through Jesus Christ your son who witnesses is your presence among us, together with the Holy Spirit who is your comfort dwelling in us.  Amen. 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 660. Print.

 

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