THE SERVANT GENERAL
SENNACHERIB AND HEZEKIAH
Today’s reading: 2 Kings 19:9-36
Spiritual warfare is all about assaulting the enemy’s
dominion, taking territory from the enemy and bringing back
his captives to God and to God’s Kingdom. It is actual
war, raging in the heavens and on earth, with invisible hosts,
both divine and diabolical, locked in deadly combat.
story of the people of God, Israel, who were formed by God
to manifest His dominion and glory in the world, to establish
an earthly kingdom that would point people to His heavenly
Kingdom, was full of such warfare. The intent was to reclaim
territory, under the dominion of false gods, for the one true
God. The books of Kings are rife with these battles. How these
wars went provide us many principles about waging holy war.
Today we have the story of the assault of the Assyrians under
King Sennacherib against Judah under King Hezekiah.
Assyria was the dominant power in the world. It was now threatening
the smaller kingdom of Judah. Sennacherib was arrogant, even
against Judah’s God. “Thus shall you say to Hezekiah,
king of Judah: Do not let your God in whom you trust deceive
you by saying, ‘Jerusalem will not be handed over to
the king of Assyria.’” (v.10). He was openly contemptuous
of God. He thought he was more powerful than the God of Israel.
“You, certainly, have heard what the kings of Assyria
have done to all the lands: they put them under the ban! And
are you to be rescued? Did the gods of the nations whom my
fathers destroyed deliver them? (v.11-12).
did Hezekiah do? Did he mobilize his army? Did he try to get
other kings to support him? Did he surrender? Did he cower
in fear and was paralyzed? No. He did the very first thing
needed to be done. He went to the Lord and prayed. He read
Sennacherib’s letter, “then he went up to the
house of the Lord, and spreading it out before the Lord, Hezekiah
prayed in the Lord’s presence” (v.14-15). It was
an assault not just against him and Judah but against God.
So here he was bringing the matter to God. He went to the
One whom Sennacherib was ultimately challenging, and to the
only One who could do something about it.
was his prayer like? First, he worshiped. “Lord, God
of Israel, enthroned on the cherubim!” (v.15a). What
is due to God first and foremost is our worship.
he acknowledged God’s dominion. “You alone are
God over all the kingdoms of the earth.” (v.15b). The
world does not belong to Sennacherib, nor to the evil one
who works in and through worldly powers today. They are all
usurpers of God’s dominion. The whole universe was created
by God and belongs to him. “It is you who made the heavens
and the earth.” (v.15c).
Hezekiah’s prayer was confident of who God was and what
He could and would do for His people. “Incline your
ear, Lord, and listen! Open your eyes, Lord, and see! Hear
the words Sennacherib has sent to taunt the living God.”
then did Hezekiah bring his need before the Lord., He asked
God to save His people. “Therefore, Lord, our God, save
us from this man’s power, that all the kingdoms of the
earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.” (v.19).
Now God also makes use of prophets. In this case, Isaiah.
Prophets speak to God’s people about His ways and His
intent. It might be a word of correction, or chastisement,
or encouragement, or assurance, or direction, or whatever
is needed to be heard by God’s people. So Isaiah told
Hezekiah: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, to
whom you have prayed concerning Sennacherib, king of Assyria:
I have listened!” (v.20). God listens to His people
who humble themselves in prayer! And God will act.
through Isaiah directly addresses first Sennacherib (v.21-28),
then Hezekiah (v.29-31). God tells Sennacherib that by scorning
Israel, he is insulting and blaspheming God Himself (v.21-24).
What then would God do to him? “Because you rage against
me, and your smugness has reached my ears, I will put my hook
in your nose and my bit in your mouth, and make you leave
by the way you came.” (v.28). God assures Hezekiah:
“I will shield and save this city for my own sake and
the sake of David my servant.” (v.34).
God did it in a dramatic way, supernaturally. “That
night the angel of the Lord went forth and struck down one
hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp.
Early the next morning, there they were, dead, all those corpses!”
(v.35). Sennacherib then broke camp and ran away (v.36). One
angel slew so many. What more when we have a host of angels
as part of the armies of God!
We are into spiritual warfare, which, aside from the invisible
war raging in the heavens, takes form through human forces
under the evil one who assault and taunt and demean and try
to subjugate the Church. Currently this is manifest in the
assault against faith, family and life, by reproductive health,
radical feminist, secular humanist, population control and
LGBT forces. These include liberal, progressive and modernist
Catholics within the Church. Then there are secular governments
like many in the western world, and some in the East as well.
are currently not winning this war. We are losing more and
more Catholics to the other side. We must intensify our evangelization
and mission, if God is to use the Church to stem the tide
and turn the tide.
it is not just going forth into battle. We must be holy
warriors. Look always to God.
to the New Evangelization!
Note: The Archdiocese of Manila has issued an Oratio Imperata,
to be prayed as a novena for 9 days from today until June
29. It is a prayer for the incoming officials of the Philippines.