The Syro-Ephraimite War: Don’t do anything dumb!
By Andy Wright
By the middle of the 8th century, BC, because or her idolatry, Israel has long been divided into 2 distinct nations: Israel to the north, Judah to the south. Assyria was the big, bad nation that bullied other nations and that every nation feared. Most nations tried to pay the Assyrians off to keep them happy. But King Pekah of Israel and Rezin of Syria decided to change course and lead an anti-Assyrian coalition, and they wanted King Ahaz and the nation of Judah in on the coalition. And if Ahaz refused, they would make war against Judah.
You can read all about it in 2 Chronicles 28 and 2 Kings 16 and Isaiah 7-8.
What should Ahaz do? What would you do? It might help to know that in the Old Testament, foreign alliances were a no-no, as it became a sign that God’s people were trusting other nations instead of Him.
King Ahaz had 3 choices in front of Him:
- Join Pekah and Rezin, and go to war against Assyria.
- Pay for Assyria’s military protection against Pekah and Rezin.
- Trust God and don’t join either side.
Here’s what King Ahaz did…he refused to go in with Pekah and Rezin. Good move, Ahaz. Pekah and Rezin proceeded to make war against Judah and King Ahaz. Things went pretty poorly for Judah: 120,000 dead, 200,000 people taken captive, all in one day. And it’s not over. What would you do?
King Ahaz blinked and gave a lot of money and sacred treasure to Assyria to have them fight Pekah and Rezin. Bad move, Ahaz. This made Judah an Assyrian vassal, precipitated their eventual exile and demonstrated a lack of faith.
When things got tough, when the flood reached his neck, Ahaz hit the panic button and did something dumb.
Ahaz’s son, Hezekiah, was in a similar position when he was king. The Assyrian army devastated Judean towns and surrounded Jerusalem, the capital city. The whole kingdom is on the edge of a precipice. The flood is has come up to Judah’s neck. So what did Hezekiah do? Instead of hitting the panic button and doing something dumb, he repented of sin and prayed. And God sent an angel to kill 180,000 Assyrians. The Assyrian king, Sennacharib, went home with his tail between his legs, only to be killed by his own sons.
So what’s the point for us?
Life is hard. Even for Christians. God never promised to give Christians an easy life. There are times when things seem so hard and sad that we aren’t sure how we can go on. There are times when we are faced with impossible situations that seem to have no reasonable or godly solution. We may even be tempted to hit the panic button and to do something dumb…drink too much, hit the pills, sleep with someone other than our spouse, hit someone, steal, lie, work so much that we don’t have any time for God or family or church, you name it.
Christian, when you are faced with a hopeless situation, there’s hope. When your problem seems impossible to solve; when life seems broken beyond redemption, don’t do anything dumb. Trust God. Keep loving Him. Keep obeying Him. Keep serving Him. Keep praying. Keep reading your Bible. Keep worshiping. And in God’s own time, he’ll rescue you. Its what He always does for those that are His—even if it means taking us from this place and into His own presence. So, don’t give up. Don’t hit the panic button. Don’t do anything dumb. Trust God.