Scripture Texts:(click to open in new windows)
1. Have you ever felt led around on a short leash like a trained animal? Were you smitten with love? Hen-pecked? Hooked by your employer’s deadlines? Dragged against your will to some wedding, party or other social function?
2. Have you ever thought you were “hot stuff” only to find yourself melting under the spotlight? When?
3. How did you feel as a child when you played “king of the hill” and got to the top? What did you do to stay there? How did you feel when you were knocked off?
4. What version of this same game do you play at work or in society? Have you reached the top yet? Have you fallen yet?
5. Why didn’t God answer Hezekiah right then and there in the Temple?
6. How is all the arrogance of Assyrian military prowess mocked by God? Who does Sennacherib credit for Assyria’s conquest? Who does God credit?
7. Does God like Sennacherib or just use him? Manipulate him? Why does God want Assyria to destroy so many people?
8. Like which animal will Sennacherib be made to behave? How will it feel to be lead on a tight leash back to Jerusalem?
9. How does the woman’s taunt song (at the beginning of the prophecy) suit the occasion? What is Isaiah asserting about God’s relationship to Jerusalem by portraying Him as the woman’s defender?
10. What insults have the Assyrians made against God? How will they end up eating their own words? In what way has Sennacherib misunderstood the reason for his past success (see Isaiah 10:12 – 19)?
11. In response to Hezekiah’s prayer, by what images does God convey His authority over all nations? What lesson is this event for Assyria? For Judah?
12. What sign does God give Hezekiah? Why give a sign that will be fulfilled only after the event it is meant to show?
13. Concerning the three promises Isaiah gives Hezekiah, what do you make of the promise of the three years’ harvest?
- it will be impossible to farm for two years, but there will be food?
- Sennacherib will besiege Jerusalem for two years before retreating?
- Lean years will be followed by prosperity?
- or something else?
14. Other ancient writings speak of Sennacherib’s army being decimated by fear and panic perhaps because of a plague. How does this fulfill the earlier prophecies (see Isaiah 10:33, 34; Isaiah 29:5 – 8; Isaiah 30:31)?
15. The angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers and King Sennacherib returned to Nineveh. What irony do you see in Sennacherib’s death (20 years later) as he enters the temple of his god?
16. Considering that every city in Judah (except Jerusalem) was destroyed, thousands of innocent people were killed and Judah was plunged into poverty for decades after the Assyrian attack. Do you think this is really a victory for Judah and a defeat for Assyria? Why or why not?
17. What is the difference between spiritual pride and a rightful sense of accomplishment? What are the indications of each?
18. Since all we have comes from God, what is the place for human planning, preparing and hard work? How have you taken credit for something that was in reality far more than you could have pulled off by yourself? What did it take to wake you up to that fact?
19. When have you felt like Hezekiah – backed up against a wall with no recourse but to pray? How have you seen God’s affirmation of His love for you?
20. What promising prospect do you feel the next 3 years hold for you personally? For your family? For your church? Where do such intuitions come from?
21. Do angels still intervene in human affairs, or are they a thing of the past? When have you sensed the presence of an angel of God intervening when no other explanation suffices?
22. Do you get arrogant? When? Why? What do you do about it?
23. Like athletic training or permanent weight loss, the first months of any extended spiritual growth program are the toughest. Rarely do we see results overnight, as in this story. What do you imagine those early months would be like for you? When would you know you were making progress?