|Volume 19 Number 8 August 2017||
Arrogance is defined as an offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride; haughtiness. Several references are made in Scripture to arrogance or being arrogant. None of these references reveal a good outcome. All of them serve as a warning against this most self-destructive, brash behavior. The phrase “ugly arrogance” caught my attention in an article I read recently, which is the incentive for this article’s title. God always met ugly arrogance with the consequence of severe discipline or punishment.
The first revealed example occurs in God’s confrontation with Cain after he had murdered Abel. Genesis 4:9 records, “Then the LORD said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’ He said, ‘I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’” Cain is the first person to tell a lie as he tells the Creator and Sustainer of the universe that he does not know the whereabouts of his brother! His question to the Almighty, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” is ugly arrogance to the zenith. Cain’s punishment was dreadful. God told him that the voice of Abel’s blood cried out to Him from the ground. Further, God told Cain in Genesis 4:11-12, “So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth.” Cain said his punishment was greater than he could bear, but bear it he did—it’s called sowing and reaping. He suffered regrettably for his ugly arrogance.
Pharaoh, king of Egypt, spoke most arrogantly to Moses and Aaron when they went to him with God’s demand to let His people go. Exodus 5:1-2 records, “Afterward Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh ‘Thus says the LORD God of Israel: Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.’ And Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, nor will I let Israel go.’” Note the ugly arrogance: Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice; I don’t know Him; I will not let them go. In the words of one preacher, God gave Pharaoh a 10-lesson correspondence course in who He was and Pharaoh failed the course badly! God ultimately humbled him when He struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt beginning with Pharaoh’s son (Exodus 12:29-30). Verses 31-33 records, “Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, ‘Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the LORD as you have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also.’ And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, ‘We will all be dead.’”
If only Pharaoh had left well enough alone! He made the untenable mistake of again attempting to arrogantly raise his hand in defiance to Almighty God! Exodus 14:1-28 is the account of Pharaoh taking 600 choice chariots with captains over every one of them. They pursued the children of Israel until they reached the Red Sea. God through Moses parted the Red Sea and then all of Israel crossed over on dry land.
Exodus 14:23 records, “And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen.” God commanded Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea. Verse 27b reads, “[T]he sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.” Exodus 14:28 states, “Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained.” Ugly arrogance cost Pharaoh the lives of his soldiers who pursued the Israelites into the Red Sea.
King Hezekiah was one of the few good kings of Judah. He was 25-years-old when he became king. He removed the places for pagan worship and broke the pillars, cut down the wooden images and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made. Second Kings 18:5-7 records, “He trusted in the LORD God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments… The LORD was with him; he prospered wherever he went. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.”
At the end of King Hezekiah’s fourth year of reign in Judah, the king of Assyria carried Israel away captive because they did not obey the voice of God. Second Kings 18:13 records, “And in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cites of Judah and took them.” In verses 14-16, King Hezekiah sent to the king of Assyria saying he had done wrong and whatever he had imposed on him, he would pay. So Hezekiah gave him all the silver in the house of the LORD and in the treasuries of the king’s house. He also stripped the gold from the doors of the temple and from the pillars and gave it to the king of Assyria.
The king of Assyria responded to this most generous gesture by sending a great army against Jerusalem to King Hezekiah and asking him what confidence it was in which he was trusting! Second Kings 18:19-20 reads, “Then the Rabshakeh said to them. ‘Say now to Hezekiah, Thus says the great king, the king of Assyria: What confidence is this in which you trust? You speak of having plans and power for war; but they are mere words. And in whom do you trust, that you rebel against me?’” He said, “You speak of having plans and power for war, but they are mere words.”
Then, Rabshakeh continued his taunting (verses 21-24). He said they were trusting in the broken reed, Egypt. He said if they were trusting in the Lord their God, it was Hezekiah who had taken away their altars and places for pagan worship. He urged them to give a pledge to the king of Assyria and he would give them 2,000 horses if they were able to put riders on them. He then asked how would Judah repel one captain of the least of his master’s servants and put their trust in Egypt for chariots and horsemen. He then had the audacity to bring God’s name into his ugly arrogance! Second Kings 18:25 records, “Have I now come up without the LORD against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, ‘Go up against this land, and destroy it.’”
His verbal blasphemy got worse and worse (verses 26-28). In verses 29-32, he said repeatedly not to let Hezekiah deceive them, for he would not be able to deliver them from the king’s hand. He told them not to let Hezekiah make them trust in the Lord by telling them that Jerusalem would not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria. He told them to make peace with him by paying tribute and come out to him. He said every one of them would then have plenty to eat and drink until he came and took them away to a land like their own. He told them again not to listen to Hezekiah lest he persuade them saying the Lord would deliver them.
The height of the Rabshakeh’s ugly arrogance came in 2 Kings 18:33-35. “Has any of the gods of the nations at all delivered its land from the hand of the king of Assyria?” He then names five pagan gods, and asked, “Where are they? Indeed, have they delivered Samaria from my hand? Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their countries from my hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”
Second Kings 18:36 records, “But the people held their peace and answered him not a word; for the king’s commandment was, ‘Do not answer him.’” Then the overseer of the household, the scribe, and the recorder went to Hezekiah with their clothes torn, and told him the words of the Rabshakeh. Second Kings 19:1 reads, “And so it was, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD.” Then he sent the overseer of the household, the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet.
Second Kings 19:3-4 records their mental anguish.
And they said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah: This day is a day of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth [give birth]. It may be that the LORD your God will hear all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard. Therefore, lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.”
The unspeakable feelings of relief and joy recorded in verses 6-7 are noteworthy! “And Isaiah said to them, ‘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. Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.’”
Hezekiah received the letter from the messenger, read it, and went up to the house of the Lord, spread it before the Lord and prayed (verses 8-15). In 2 Kings 19:16-19, he prayed:
Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open Your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. Truly, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste the nations and their lands, and have cast their gods into the fire… Therefore they destroyed them. Now therefore, O LORD our God, I pray, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that You are the LORD God, You alone.
Did we understand the motivation of Hezekiah’s prayer? His single-minded focus was not for himself or for Judah, but that glory, honor and adoration would be proclaimed for Almighty God!
Then Isaiah sent to Hezekiah saying, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard” (2 Kings 19:20). Verses 21-34 record God’s wrath and doom of how He would punish and destroy Sennacherib. Verses 21-23a record:
This is the word which the LORD has spoken concerning him: ‘The virgin, the daughter of Zion, has despised you, laughed you to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem has shaken her head behind your back! Whom have you reproached and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice, and lifted up your eyes on high? Against the holy One of Israel. By your messengers you have reproached the LORD.
God told the king of Assyria in verses 23-26 that he was merely a tool that He used to bring about His plan and purpose. God let him know that he had no power other than the power He had given to him. God asked him had he not heard long ago that He had made everything and from ancient times that He had formed it? God further told Sennacherib that He had allowed him to crush fortified cities into heaps of ruins. Now that God had his attention, He told him precisely what was in his future.
Second Kings 19:27-28 records, “But I know your dwelling place, your going out and your coming in, and your rage against Me. Because your rage against Me and your tumult have come up to My ears, therefore I will put My hook in your nose and My bridle in your lips, and I will turn you back by the way which you came.”
Of the remaining nine verses, 29-31 reveal God’s sign to the remnant of Judah and how His provision and protection would be theirs. Verses 32 and 33 reveal what God would do concerning the king of Assyria. God said that he would not come into the city nor shoot an arrow there, nor come with a shield, nor build a siege mound against it. By the way he came, the same way he would return. Verse 34 declares the faithfulness of God; “For I will defend this city, to save it for My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.”
The ultimate consequence of the king’s ugly arrogance is recorded in verses 35 and 36.
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 eight-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh.
The final verse states that as he was worshiping in the temple of his god, two of his sons struck him down with the sword and another son reigned in his place.
Space will not permit addressing in detail additional accounts of those who dared to defy God. It should be gravely noted that God’s response was always severe and sometimes deadly. To name a few who incurred His wrath, see below.
Proverbs 6:16-19 lists the seven things that God hates, and they are an abomination to Him. The first one listed is a proud look. Anytime we lose that quiet, humble, submissive spirit and start acting like the “goats on the left” about which Jesus spoke, Deity stands and our horns are broken. Proverbs 29:23 declares, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”
Building on a Firm Foundation
Martha Lynn Rushmore
How do you build a house? Do you build on the sand or on a firm foundation? A foolish man builds his house on the sand. The wise man builds his house on a rock. We are told in Matthew 7:24-27 to build on a firm foundation. Jesus is our firm foundation.
We are to build our lives on Jesus and His Word. The biblical blueprint is to be obeyed, just like when a builder has a blueprint to erect a house. If the plans are not followed exactly, the dwelling will not come out right. If we do not follow the plan of salvation, to hear (Romans 10:17), to believe (Acts 2:38), to repent (Luke 13:3, 5), to confess Christ (Romans 10:9-10) and to be baptized for the remission of sins (Mark16:16), we have not built on a firm foundation regarding salvation. Lastly, we must remain faithful (Revelation 2:10).
So, are you building on the firm foundation of our Lord Jesus Christ? Or, would you say that your life is built on the sand?