8-6 Rabshakeh And The Last Days
" The king of Assyria sent Tartan
and Rabsaris and Rab-shakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a
great host against Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:17). The Hebrew
for " great" here is not the usual word so translated.
" Kabed" used here means literally to be heavily laden
down, being related to the word for 'glory'. This could
refer to a large amount of (relatively) sophisticated military hardware
being carried by them, which accords with other indications that
the final Arab push against Jerusalem will be noted for its extensive
use of the latest military gadgetry. It could be a malfunctioning
of this which causes the Arab invaders to destroy each other, as
required by Zech. 14:13; Jud. 7:22; 2 Chron. 20:23 etc.
Note, too, how the prophecy of Gog's invasion, being based on this
Assyrian invasion, stresses the huge amount of military equipment
used by the invader (Eze. 38:4,5). The Gulf war of 1991
demonstrated how a number of nations, each using such sophisticated
hardware, must work in absolute co-operation for it to be effective,
showing that there must be at least a superficial unity amongst
the Arab aggressors before the final invasion.
The Assyrian army was split up under
three leaders, Tartan, Rabsaris and Rabshakeh. "
Tartan" is related to the Assyrian god Tartak (2 Kings 17:31),
further confirming that there was and will be a religious aspect
to the final invasion. More proof of this is found in
the great emphasis on their desire to take Jerusalem as opposed
to anywhere else (2 Kings 18:17); 2 Chron. 32:2 AV mg.).
" Rabsaris" is mentioned in Jer. 39:3 as being one of
the princes of Babylon who came against Jerusalem during that invasion,
again demonstrating the similarity between the invasions of Babylon
and Assyria (see introduction to this study). The attack
comes against Jerusalem from the south (Lachish, 2 Kings 18:17),
as do the attacks in the historical incidents which typify this
The subdivision of the Arab invader
into three groups, as in the original Assyrian battle plan, may
also be seen in the last days, seeing that some previous Arab invasions
may have had this feature too:-
- " The spoilers of the
Philistines (raided Israel) in three
companies" (1 Sam. 13:17).
- The Israelites fought their
Ammonite enemies " in three
, perhaps because there were three groups of
Ammonites (1 Sam. 11:11).
- The account of Gideon's victory
over Midian, a clear type of
latter-day Arab destruction, has a triple emphasis on
Israel attacking them
in " three companies" (Jud. 7:16,20,22)
perhaps for the same reason.
- The " great city"
of Bablylon/Assyria will be " divided into three parts"
for its destruction (Rev. 16:19).
- The Chaldeans (Babylonians/Assyrians)
attacked Job, symbolic
Israel (1) in three bands (Job 1:17).
The book of Job has many other links with the Assyrian invasion
- Is there some reference to
this in the enigmatic three frog like spirits of Rev. 16?
Rev. 9:14-18 describes how 200,000,000
horsemen came from just beyond the Euphrates (i.e. Babylon/Assyria),
using " fire and smoke and brimstone" to punish God's
apostate people. " By these three was the third
part of men killed" , suggesting that this invading army has
three aspects to its work. The huge number of horsemen
must allude to the " great company" of horsemen of Eze.
38:4, which we have shown to be rooted in the Assyrian invasion.
The 200,000,000 horsemen of Rev. 9:16 may correspond to the fact
that profane history records the strength of the Assyrian army which
came against Jerusalem as being 200,000 men.
Jerusalem was truly “compassed
with armies”, and perhaps the Lord has this in mind when He
predicted that Jerusalem would again be like this in the last days.
His subsequent warning to those in the country areas not running
into Jerusalem for refuge is also an allusion to the situation in
Hezekiah’s time- for this was exactly what happened then (Lk.
The final trauma
With Jerusalem surrounded by such
a huge army, it was inevitable that fear would reign within its
walls. Rabshakeh's continual propaganda " to affright
them and to trouble them" (2 Chron. 32:18) egged this on, as
jubilant Arab propaganda will likewise intensely test the faith
of the remnant within Jerusalem in the last days. It
would appear from this typology that there will be this final intense
testing of Israel in the very last moment before God's intervention.
It may be similar for the faithful remnant among spiritual Israel,
Against this background, Isaiah is
framed as the epitome of sedate spirituality and faith, calmly assuring
the people from God's word. Rabshakeh realized their
dependence on Isaiah's prophecies, and he mocked their reliance
on these abstract, apparently academic things as opposed to anything
physical: " Thou sayest (but they are but vain words,)
I have counsel and strength for the war" (2 Kings 18:20), the
implication being " But we Assyrians have 200,000 warriors
to fight the war with!" The ministry of the (Elijah?)
prophets in the last days will have a similar central role in continuing
to motivate the faith of the righteous remnant.
House to house fighting
Presumably these prophets will actually
be physically with this faithful group, tucked away in underground
bunkers in Jerusalem. This is certainly what Zech. 14:2
implies - Jerusalem taken by the Arabs, but the righteous remnant
somehow remaining there. One can imagine the Arab troops
flushing out the Jews from the wreckage of the city in house-to-house
fighting, killing half of those who were in it at the time it fell.
Is. 4:3 surely speaks of this scenario: “He that is left in
Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy,
even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem”.
Those killed will be the faithless,
although they will not necessarily be physically separate from the
righteous. When the last of these is shot or knifed
by Arab soldiers and the destruction of the faithful ones looks
inevitable, the Lord will dramatically intervene. It
is hard to imagine another scenario which fits the requirements
of Zech. 14:1-4. That remnant are those typified by
the faithful within Jerusalem at the time of the Assyrian invasion,
so it is reasonable to imagine the latter-day equivalent of Isaiah
and his school of prophets uttering and expounding words of prophecy,
perhaps these very ones which this study reflects upon, in Bible
classes held in sewers and barricaded buildings. Truly,
" in that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem"
, i.e. the remnant (Zech. 12:8).
This final remnant
of Israel is referred to in Obadiah 17- "in Mount Zion there
shall be those that escape" (RV), "the captivity of this
fortress of the children of Israel" (Obadiah 20 RVmg.), and
they will be saved by the appearance of saviours / Angels on Mount
Zion (Obadiah 21) at the Lord's return to the place from which He
ascended to Heaven.
It is worth noting that two thirds
of the Jews within the land are to be " cut off" in the
holocaust, meaning that a third survive it (Zech. 13:8,9).
Having spoken of this period in Rev. 6, Rev. 7:4 speaks of 144,000
Jews as surviving it. A third of the Jews in Israel
is about 1.4 million people; it may be that only a tenth of
those will ultimately be found worthy. The 144,000 are sealed so
that they avoid God's judgments, which would fit the idea of the
righteous remnant miraculously surviving in an Arab occupied Jerusalem.
The equivalent of Rabshakeh's propaganda
may well be in the form of Arab megaphone broadcasts to the Jews
they know to be hidden away. Rabshakeh mocked their
trust in Egypt, the " king of the south" , which was the
only other main power bloc opposed to Assyria, " the king of
the north" (2 Kings 18:21) reporting how so many other surrounding
nations had fallen to Assyria. The Arab " Assyria"
of the last days will broadcast similar messages, although the equivalent
of 'Egypt' in the sense of the only other major world power may
be the U.S.A. As in Hezekiah's time, many Jews will
be tempted to put their real faith in a Western intervention, on
humanitarian grounds alone, rather than in the words of the prophets
concerning the second coming. Such Western intervention
may well look likely, as Egyptian help did in Hezekiah's time -
but it will not come in time.
Immediately prior to the final Angelic
destruction of the Assyrians, " Tirhakah, king of Ethiopia"
came to fight them (2 Kings 19:9). The mentioning of
this shows how tempting it was for the Jews to put their faith in
this sort of thing. There may be a similar situation
in the last days, so that literally " all nations" are
involved in a Middle East conflict when the Lord intervenes.
Rabshakeh's foghorn blared on: "
Make an agreement with me...and then eat ye every man of his own
vine, and every one of his fig tree...until I come and take you
away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land
of bread and vineyards, a land of oil olive and of honey" (2
Kings 18:31-32). The repetition of the word " land"
and the evident allusions to the description of the promised land
Israel would have if they were faithful (e.g. Deut. 8:7,8), show
that Rabshakeh was offering the Jews a fake kingdom of God.
The reference to each man eating his own vine and fig tree is alluding
to Mic. 4:4, a prophecy which was uttered during this period, and
doubtless repeated by the prophets within Jerusalem: "
They shall sit every man under his vine and...fig tree" .
These conscious allusions by Rabshakeh
again show that there was a strong religious element in his reasoning
- as if to say, " Make a deal with us, and we can offer you
something better than the kingdom your prophets tell you will soon
come and is worth suffering for" . The Arab propaganda
of the last days may run along similar lines: " Become
Muslims, and then you will be the real children of Abraham
and have hope of being in a real paradise" . The
language of vines, oil, corn, honey etc. are prominent in the Islamic
concept of 'paradise', their equivalent to the Kingdom of God.
It follows that the Kingdom prophecies
of Micah and the early promises of the land of Israel - i.e. the
Gospel of the Kingdom - will be under much discussion amongst
persecuted Israel of the last days, taught to them by the prophet-preachers
who come among them during the preceding period of Arab domination.
The Elijah ministry will turn their hearts back to the Jewish fathers-
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Mal. 4:6). These prophets were, and will
be, dynamic in their work; thus Rabshakeh told Israel not
to be persuaded by the prophetic promises that " The
Lord will deliver us" (2 Kings 18:32). In the last
days this aspect of the message will be in the form of assurance
that the second coming, the ultimate deliverance, will soon occur.
In passing, it is intriguing that
the Nazis told the Jews of occupied Europe that the death camps
were holiday resorts, dressing up in exotic terms their means of
destroying and 'carrying captive' the Jews. This may
have been a purposeful echo of Rabshakeh's style: describing the
Jews' certain death in captivity, in the language of their being
invited to a peaceful place of freedom and plenty. If the Arabs
do the same in the last days, they will be knowingly imitating both
Hitler and Rabshakeh/Sennacherib. Their evident attention
to historical symbolism makes this quite likely.
Isaiah's prophecies have reference
to both Sennacherib's invasion and the last days. In what is very
much a last days prophecy, Is.51:12 encourages Israel not to "
be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall
be made as grass" . Primarily this must have referred to Rabshakeh's
threats which so pulverized the Jews with fear. It is quite possible
that there will be a specific man who co-ordinates the holocaust
upon Israel, a real 'anti-Christ'; a fake " son of man"
(1) See James and other Studies
(London: Pioneer, 1992).