The Enemy Speaks in the Vernacular

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), July 20

Satan was revealed as cunning in the Garden; he spoke to the woman in her language. Even today the enemy questions God’s goodness, His power, and His word. He slanders God in a language that people understand, in hopes that they will listen to him instead of God. It worked in the garden of Eden with the first couple, and it has worked ever since.

imagesThe enemy, like Assyria’s field commander, speaks in the vernacular. He sounds so normal. So reasonable. So right. So understandable.

Eliakim, Shebna, and Joah beg the field commander to speak in a language that the people can’t understand, “Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people who are on the wall” (2 Kings 18:26). In response, the field commander taunts the people of Jerusalem with slanderous words against God.

Jerusalem’s leaders know the negative and faith-wrecking effect the Rabshakeh’s words (“The men sitting on the wall . . . will eat and drink their own waste with you,” 18:26) will have on Jerusalem’s guards. Nevertheless, the field commander continues calling out in Hebrew, “Nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD will surely deliver us; this city shall not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria” (18:30). He follows his taunts with a list of the gods of the other nations who have been unable to defeat the Assyrian army.

Hezekiah commands the people to remain silent, and Isaiah tells Hezekiah not to fear the field commander’s words, “Thus you shall say to your master, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me”’” (19:5-6). Isaiah promises Hezekiah that the LORD will, “send such a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land” and will “fall by the sword in his own land” (19:7).

This story reveals a number of truths about the enemy and about dealing with the enemy:

  • The enemy speaks to be heard and understood–in a language that you understand.
  • The enemy seeks to slander God’s character and to spark fear and unbelief in hearts of God’s people.
  • No one wins by exchanging words with the enemy. Eve listened to the enemy, entertained his suggestions, and acted on them. Hezekiah, however, went to the temple of the LORD. He sought out Isaiah for prayer (19:1-4). Hezekiah spread out Sennacherib’s letter before the LORD, and God responded by telling Isaiah, “I will put My hook in your [Sennacherib’s] nose, and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way you came” (19:28).
  • God takes the enemy’s taunts personally; they may speak against God’s people, but God says that they have “blasphemed ME.”

You can be certain that God hears the taunts of the enemy and that He will rebuke the enemy, “And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand” (19:35). Later, Sennacherib’s own sons cut him down with a sword.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Micah 6-7; 2 Chron. 32:1-8; 2 Kings 18:13-37; Is. 36):
Micah uses “court” vocabulary to define the LORD’s relationship with Israel. What argument does He use to plead His case against Israel?
In what position does Micah’s prophecy against Israel place him?
What hope does Micah conclude his message with, and what does that hope reflect about God’s character?
Describe Hezekiah’s leadership during the days of the Assyrian siege. What does Hezekiah communicate to the people about God? What do his actions reveal about the leader that the people really want to lead them?