Isa 10.5-11 tells us that the Assyrians were sent by the Lord to bring Israel back to him in repentance. However, Assyria went too far, and the Lord judged them for it. They wanted to destroy everyone and everything, including Jerusalem. Ezek 38.10-12 talks about the motivations of Gog and Magog. It says, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘It will come about on that day (the Day of the Lord) that thoughts will come to your mind and you will devise an evil plan.'” How? The Psa 83 group will say that Israel can be defeated. Israel’s enemies will be defeated in year two of the Birth Pains, and Russia will move into place to strike. The Arabs will be told to disarm, making Israel feel more secure. Israel will feel less likely to use the “Masada Complex” which says if Israel is going down, they will use nukes to take everyone else with them. Russia knows that and does not want that to happen, so they will need to deceive the Israeli’s. So, the Arab terrorists will be told to back off for awhile, lulling Israel into thinking they have security. But, Russia has other plans. Ezek 38.12 says they want to “capture spoil and seize plunder.” They want to destroy the waste places that are now inhabited and go against the people who are gathered from the nations, which have acquired cattle and goods.
Isa 10. 12 says, “Yet it (Assyrians/Russia) does not so intend nor does it plan so in its heart. But rather it is its purpose to destroy and to cut off many nations. For it says, ‘Are not my princes all kings (pride).'” Sennacherib and the Assyrians were obnoxious and full of arrogance. They didn’t care if Israel called upon their God, they thought they were better than any God. In fact, they said we will give you 2000 horses because we know you don’t even have the men to sit on them. Arrogance will be a prime factor with the Assyrians. It will be the same way with the Russians when they invade during the Day of the Lord.
Isa 36.11-22 tells us what happened at the time of Hezekiah, which gives us a glimpse into what is going to happen in the future. Sennacerib wanted Rav (chief) Shakeh (captains), a title (36.11) to speak in Aramaic because the people on the walls spoke Hebrew, but Ravshakeh spoke Hebrew to them in order to frighten them (2 Chr 32.18). When Ravshakeh was done, they did not answer him a word. Isa 37.1-3 says Eliakim, Shebna and the elders of the priests went to Isaiah the prophet and told him the words of Ravshakeh. They said to Isaiah, “Thus says Hezekiah “This is the day of distress” alluding to the Birth Pains and the Day of the Lord. He then says “for children have come to birth (birth pains) and there is no strength to deliver.” Hezekiah had lost all the battles and he was trapped behind the walls of Jerusalem. His wives have even gone over to Sennacherib, and his daughters. His sons have been made eunuchs in the court of Sennacherib. The Temple treasures have been used to pay tribute. Judah is losing the war.
Isa 37.4-7 continues with their plea to Isaiah and they are not presumptuous. They say to Isaiah “perhaps the Lord your God will hear the words of Ravshakeh” and wanted Isaiah to pray to the Lord about it. Isaiah tells them that the servants of Sennacherib have blasphemed the Lord and he will make Sennacherib leave and be killed in Assyria (v 7). In Isa 37.8-13 we learn that Ravshakeh sent a letter saying the same things he said at the wall of Jerusalem in the hearing of the people. Josephus talks about this letter in Antiquities, Book 10, Chapter 1.4 that “About the same time also the King of Assyria wrote an epistle to Hezekiah, in which he said he was a foolish man is supposing that he should escape from being his servant, since he already brought under many and great nations; and he threatened that when he took him, he would utterly destroy him, unless he now opened the gates and willingly received his army into Jerusalem. When he read this epistle, he despised it, on account of the trust that he had in God; but he rolled up the epistle and laid it up within the Temple; and as he made his farther prayers to God for the city, and for the preservation of all the people, the prophet Isaiah said that God had heard his prayer and that he should not at this time be besieged by the King of Assyria.”
Josephus goes on to say that the Egyptians were coming up against the Assyrians (37.9) and Sennacherib breaks off his siege on Lachish to come against Tirhakah, Pharaoh of Egypt. There are other accounts of this story, but in short, the two armies are facing each other and they camp because it is late in the day. During the night a horde of rats came through the Assyrian camp, eating the feathers off the arrows, the slingshots and the bow strings off the bows. That is not good if you are going to battle in the morning. So, Sennacherib withdraws, and what should have been a slaughter for Tirhakah and the Egyptians didn’t happen. Tirhakah turned around and went back to Egypt.
Sennacherib then goes up to Jerusalem. God was setting up the destruction of Sennacherib and the Assyrians and saving them for himself. He was not going to let Egypt play a role in the destruction of the Assyrians at all. It will be the same with Gog and Magog/Russia. God will not allow the false messiah and Europe (Pharaoh Tirhakah and Egypt) to defeat Gog and Magog/Russia. The Lord will do it (Ezek 38.21-23).
Israel must come to the realization that they have lost, and there is no hope. They will turn to God as a result of the preaching of the Two Witnesses and the 144,000 who have been in the land for three years. Even though they have one of the best armies in the world, there is a limit to what they can do for themselves. Personally, we have this situation in ourselves, too. We have “control” but there is a limit. God will allow our strength to be taken away. By losing the battles we can win the war, but only through the strength of the Lord.
When there is a military treaty between Israel and Europe, God will allow this to be of no value. There will be a point where this is not going to be of any help. Why did Tirhakah and the Egyptians “turn around?” He could have defeated the Assyrians, but God allowed it to happen so that when Israel was totally alone, he alone could deliver them. If Tirhakah had defeated the Assyrians, then the Lord would not have received the glory and Israel would not have changed.
In Isa 38.1-8 we learn that Hezekiah is sick “in those days.” So, this tells us that he is sick while Assyria is invading Jerusalem. He is given a sign that he will live another fifteen years, and the Assyrians will be defeated. The sun goes back ten steps as a sign (v 8). He had no heir at the time, but because of the additional years, he has a son named Manasseh. Manasseh is twelve when he becomes king, so three years after this he is born. God destroys the Assyrians and Sennacherib goes home and is killed. His son Esarhadon takes over (Isa 37.37-38).
So, basically, Hezekiah has taken this letter from Sennacherib and the Lord promises Hezekiah fifteen more years. He will have a son to succeed him, and the Assyrians won’t even fire an arrow into the city (probably because they were all eaten and the bows destroyed by rats) and the Assyrians will be destroyed.
In Part 7, we will pick up here and look deeper into the war of Gog and Magog and see how it fits into the eschatology of the Birth Pains. One of the most important concepts to remember is that prophecies will often fit into the festivals and appointed times. It would be good to obtain a Prayer Book on the festivals and see what is prayed during the appointed times because it will teach us about eschatology. The “moedim” means that the Lord has an “appointment” with his people, and one of the reasons for this “appointment” is that important eschatological events relating to the redemption will take place. In a later teaching, we are going to study this redemption in detail.