Even confronted with enemies more powerful and numerous than him, Nehemiah kept doing God’s work. His faith that the Lord would protect the work and bless them kept him going. We have seen how he answered the call to action, how He started the inspection and his response to the enemies plot. Now we will look at his continued efforts, not letting anything slow him down. Not even the threats of a powerful enemy.
2 Chronicles 32:1-23 New King James Version (NKJV)
1 After these deeds of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and entered Judah; he encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them over to himself. 2 And when Hezekiah saw that Sennacherib had come and that his purpose was to make war against Jerusalem, 3 he consulted with his leaders and commanders to stop the water from the springs which were outside the city; and they helped him. 4 Thus many people gathered together who stopped all the springs and the brook that ran through the land, saying, “Why should the kings of Assyria come and find much water?” 5 And he strengthened himself, built up all the wall that was broken, raised it up to the towers, and built another wall outside; also he repaired the Millo in the City of David, and made weapons and shields in abundance. 6 Then he set military captains over the people, gathered them together to him in the open square of the city gate, and gave them encouragement, saying, 7 “Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles.” And the people were strengthened by the words of Hezekiah king of Judah.
9 After this Sennacherib king of Assyria sent his servants to Jerusalem (but he and all the forces with him laid siege against Lachish), to Hezekiah king of Judah, and to all Judah who were in Jerusalem, saying, 10 “Thus says Sennacherib king of Assyria: ‘In what do you trust, that you remain under siege in Jerusalem? 11 Does not Hezekiah persuade you to give yourselves over to die by famine and by thirst, saying, “The Lord our God will deliver us from the hand of the king of Assyria”? 12 Has not the same Hezekiah taken away His high places and His altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, “You shall worship before one altar and burn incense on it”? 13 Do you not know what I and my fathers have done to all the peoples of other lands? Were the gods of the nations of those lands in any way able to deliver their lands out of my hand? 14 Who was there among all the gods of those nations that my fathers utterly destroyed that could deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand? 15 Now therefore, do not let Hezekiah deceive you or persuade you like this, and do not believe him; for no god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you from my hand?’”
16 Furthermore, his servants spoke against the Lord God and against His servant Hezekiah.
17 He also wrote letters to revile the Lord God of Israel, and to speak against Him, saying, “As the gods of the nations of other lands have not delivered their people from my hand, so the God of Hezekiah will not deliver His people from my hand.” 18 Then they called out with a loud voice in Hebrew to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten them and trouble them, that they might take the city. 19 And they spoke against the God of Jerusalem, as against the gods of the people of the earth—the work of men’s hands.
20 Now because of this King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, prayed and cried out to heaven. 21 Then the Lord sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned shamefaced to his own land. And when he had gone into the temple of his god, some of his own offspring struck him down with the sword there.
22 Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all others, and guided them on every side. 23 And many brought gifts to the Lord at Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah, so that he was exalted in the sight of all nations thereafter.
Hezekiah had spent the past 14 years reigning over Judah. He was a God-fearing king who delighted in the work of the LORD. He had listened to His mother, and the Prophet Isaiah and turned the nation back to God. However, Judah was still considered a Vassal of Assyria and was required to send yearly tribute to Assyria. This year, Hezekiah did not send tribute.
An Arm Of Flesh
Be strong and courageous; do not be afraid nor dismayed before the king of Assyria, nor before all the multitude that is with him; for there are more with us than with him.
The Assyrian army lays siege to Judah, and it is quite terrifying. Judah cut off the water supply to them, as we see, but they still outnumbered them in men. This arm of flesh was much greater than Judah’s. This must have been terrifying, yet a very common occurrence for Judah. They were a very small nation compared to the great powers around them, yet they had something these superpowers didn’t have.
Hezekiah says “don’t worry, there’s more of us than them.” I can imagine a few people being like, “great, the fear of this army has driven our king mad!” But he continues and says that all the enemy has is an “arm of flesh” but we have the LORD! He tells them to “be strong and courageous.”
So, the Assyrians start to boast. They speak about how they had wiped out so many other nations and their gods had done nothing, so why should your God be any different.
Then the Lord sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valor, leader, and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria.
So Isaiah and Hezekiah prayed fervently to the LORD, (it wouldn’t have been a two-second prayer, they would have fasted and sacrificed and prayed HARD) and the LORD delivered them. He sends an Angel to take out a great multitude of men. In fact, the angel killed 185,000 Assyrians, (2 Kings 19:36) and caused the Assyrians to be the ones fearful now!
Look at your enemies today and be strong and courageous, acknowledge that you come in the name of the LORD Almighty, and you are not alone.