Today’s Reading: 2 KINGS 19:1-19; ISAIAH 37:1-20; ; 2 CHRONICLES 32:9-19; 2 KINGS 19:20-37; ISAIAH 37:21-38; 2 CHRONICLES 32:20-23
I really enjoyed today’s readings. They tied in so closely with some reading that I am doing on the side. I am reading a book about the Six Day War of June 1967. The book is a chronological look at the 3rd Israeli/Arab war in the first 20 years of Israel’s modern day existence. The book is called “Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East” by Michael B. Oren. The book quickly explains what happened the years prior to the war and how the war impacted the future of the middle east for the last 40 years.
If you don’t know much about the Six Days War, here is a very brief summary:
- Egypt, Syria, Jordan and other Arab states hated the Jews and Israel and wanted them out of what they considered their land – Palestine.
- Israel and its neighbors were nearly always in border conflicts. Arab states allowing terrorist to base their work from their countries and towns. Israel makes retaliatory strikes.
Egypt decides it is time to make a stand, they move their army right up the Israel border.
Egypt evicts the UN border observation forces, who had been there since the Suez Crisis in 1956.
Egypt blockades the Straits of Tiran, effectively blockading an important Israeli port.
Egypt signs mutual defensive agreements with Syria and Jordan.
Egypt seeks and gains support from the Soviet Union to come into the battle if the US supports Israel.
Israel seeks US support but is only told the US will support if Egypt attacks first.
Israel seeks an international solution to end the blockade but receives none.
Israel, feeling alone and fearing imminent attack from Egypt, attacks first (preemptive).
Just as the war was about to start here are some rough numbers on army and air force strengths. The exact numbers are constantly disputed, the fact that Israel was outnumbered in all but one category is not.
As you can see Israel was greatly outnumbered and surrounded on three sides by three enemies. There situation was incredibly intense and precarious.
That reminds me very much of King Hezekiah’s situation with the Assyrian king threatening to destroy Jerusalem. The Assyrians had a long history of prevailing in their conflicts and they made sure everyone knew it. Here is the King of Assyria’s challenge.
Isaiah 37:10 – 13 (NLT)
10 “This message is for King Hezekiah of Judah. Don’t let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you with promises that Jerusalem will not be captured by the king of Assyria. 11 You know perfectly well what the kings of Assyria have done wherever they have gone. They have completely destroyed everyone who stood in their way! Why should you be any different? 12 Have the gods of other nations rescued them—such nations as Gozan, Haran, Rezeph, and the people of Eden who were in Tel-assar? My predecessors destroyed them all! 13 What happened to the king of Hamath and the king of Arpad? What happened to the kings of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?”
More than 2500 years earlier the Assyrians came knocking on Judah’s door. They came speaking against the One and Only True God of Israel, just as the Arab countries did in 1967.
What does Hezekiah do, he goes to worship God and pray:
Isaiah 37:14 – 20 (NLT)
14 After Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it, he went up to the Lord’s Temple and spread it out before the Lord. 15 And Hezekiah prayed this prayer before the Lord: 16 “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, God of Israel, you are enthroned between the mighty cherubim! You alone are God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You alone created the heavens and the earth. 17 Bend down, O Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, O Lord, and see! Listen to Sennacherib’s words of defiance against the living God.
18 “It is true, Lord, that the kings of Assyria have destroyed all these nations. 19 And they have thrown the gods of these nations into the fire and burned them. But of course the Assyrians could destroy them! They were not gods at all—only idols of wood and stone shaped by human hands. 20 Now, O Lord our God, rescue us from his power; then all the kingdoms of the earth will know that you alone, O Lord, are God.”
Against all earthly odds, Hezekiah and Judah survived the onslaught of the mighty Assyrians. God answered Hezekiah’s prayer, Isaiah prophesied a victory and here was the result:
Isaiah 37:36 – 38 (NLT)
36 That night the angel of the Lord went out to the Assyrian camp and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. When the surviving Assyrians woke up the next morning, they found corpses everywhere. 37 Then King Sennacherib of Assyria broke camp and returned to his own land. He went home to his capital of Nineveh and stayed there.
38 One day while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisroch, his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer killed him with their swords. They then escaped to the land of Ararat, and another son, Esarhaddon, became the next king of Assyria.
More than 2500 years later the ancestors of the Assyrians again tried to insult the God of Israel, they again tried to kick the Jews out of Jerusalem and Judah. Both times they failed.
In the Six Days war Israel became very victorious. In the first morning they destroyed the Egyptian Air Force. By the end of the day they were chasing the Egyptian Army out of Sinai. By the end of hostilities the Israeli army had destroyed the armies and air forces of Egypt, Syria and Jordan. They conquered 3 times the territory that they had prior to the conflict. They were victorious. In the book there are many stories of incredible coincidences that miraculously aided Israel (Click here for a website that specifically lists the miracles). There were times when every decision they made on the battle field worked out perfectly. As if a higher power was in control of the circumstances.
Unfortunately for the Middle East and Israel, this was not the last war or conflict. It still goes on today. It will not stop until everyone involved recognizes that the true God of Israel has already sent the Messiah and that he will one day return again to claim his own.