“‘Have I now come up without the Lord’s approval against this land to destroy it? The Lord said to me, ‘Go up against this land and destroy it.’” (Isaiah 36:10)
When the Assyrian military leader came up to the men of Jerusalem, he used this argument to try and convince them to surrender. He claimed the Assyrians were invading Judah because the very God that the Hebrews trusted in had commissioned them to destroy the land. Basically, they were claiming that God was on their side.
This should not be taken to mean, however, that the Assyrians had any real faith. A few verses later, the military leader mocks the God of Israel, saying that He is no different from the gods of the other nations, and is not able to protect the people of Israel (Isaiah 36:13-20).
We often see this pattern in the world. Those who oppose God’s truth and His people will often mock God, often questioning His power and sovereignty. At the same time, some in the world will claim that they are actually acting on behalf of God. We are not to be fooled however, as Jesus said many will come falsely in His name (Matthew 24:24), and that we are to test the spirits to see if they are of God (1 John 4:1).
So how are we to respond when these accusations are thrown at us? While there is a time and a place to respond with words (1 Peter 3:15), we must also know when to speak and when to stay silent. Isaiah 36:20 says “they were silent and did not answer him a word, for the command of the king was, ‘You must not answer him’” (LEB). They knew that responding to the Assyrians would give them credence. Likewise, we must be careful with our words, lest we give accusers a credence which they do not have.