Drawing near to the end of the book of 2 Kings, we are still finding intriguing stories concerning God and His people. Here, we find out a bit more about Hezekiah. As it turns out, He has ALWAYS been in the saving business, even when it seems impossible. Are you in an impossible situation? Then this might be a great reading to take the time for.
In Case You Missed It
My last post on Blogging Through the Bible series, for 2 Kings Chapters 13 & 14, can be found HERE.
As this chapter opens, Hezekiah has just received word that the entire country is looking at the possibility of war and worse. King Hezekiah didn’t shrug it off either. He tore his clothes. He covered himself with sackcloth. And then he went to church.
These expressions represented a kind of mourning that was usually only associated with the loss of someone very close, like a family member or dear friend. Hezekiah was mourning in this way because he knew exactly how intent his enemy was on ENDING Jerusalem!
Hezekiah Seeks God Instead of Running
A lot of people, especially these days, find out bad news and get slung into a tailspin of emotions. It’s usually because we think if there’s nothing WE can do, then we’re done for.
This is a foolish assumption in any situation, but Hezekiah knew that if there was going to be a victory, it was going to have to come through God Himself. He went into the courts of God’s house to be near God in this trying time.
Furthermore, he sent out his servants, along with priests and elders, to seek out the prophet Isaiah. There is always wisdom in seeking out wise counsel when the going gets tough. And Hezekiah knew if he were going to hear from God, he would rather it be from the prophet himself, who would hear directly from God.
Blasphemies Toward God
Rabshakeh had done more than throw threats at Hezekiah. No, he went as far as to blaspheme the One True and Living God is Israel. Hezekiah knew that God punished blasphemy, and so he brought this up as a most important matter before God through Isaiah.
Then he requested prayer, citing the devastation that had already occurred due to the Assyrians. He was asking Isaiah to pray for this one remnant that was left.
Hezekiah Hears From God Through Isaiah
Isaiah, it appears, answered the people that had come to him on behalf of Isaiah immediately. His prophecies were that the enemy would be taken out in their own land. It would appear that Isaiah hadn’t had time to even pray before he answered. Many would think he was answering of his own mind, but no doubt, the Lord had made a quick word in his spirit for such a time as this.
God goes a step further to tell Hezekiah that he needn’t be afraid of words because that’s all they are: mere words. Words in and of themselves can do no harm. And that’s a lesson we would ALL do well to remember! If the truth were known, every one of us has lost our fair share of peace due to words and worry that never actually came to pass.
It’s interesting to note that, in this discourse, God speaks towards Ragshakeh himself, without focusing on the Assyrian army that they were so afraid of.
Rabshakeh Sends Word To Hezekiah Again
When he found Ethiopia in the mix, Rabshakeh decided to send messengers to Hezekiah again, saying some pretty harsh things. He ran down a list of nations that had already been destroyed, and their gods along with them, hoping to instill even more fear in Hezekiah. However, when Hezekiah went before the Lord, he started to declare some truths that would stand, where Rabshakeh’s words did not.
He didn’t take the letter to Isaiah. This one, he reserved for the Lord, and he prayed all by himself. He addressed God’s majesty, calling Him out as the ONLY God and the Creator of Heaven and earth. And the Lord heard his prayers and sent word to tell him so.
God the Defender
God tells many ways He intends to defend and even prosper the people. Then He makes an important statement, again, that we would all do well to remember.
All the things that God says He will do, He says He will do it for HIS sake, and for DAVID’S sake. This speaks to God’s willingness to uphold His own reputation, which is what is really being spoken of when you see terms like “namesake.” When speaking of David’s sake, God is saying that He is willing to uphold the promises He has already made. He made very specific promises to David about upholding Israel and even after David’s death, He counted Himself faithful to fulfill them.
Casualties of the Enemies of God
Sure enough, not much time had passed before God’s word rang true, to the tune about roughly 185,000 soldiers. An entire army, wiped out in one night at the hand of one of God’s angels.
Sennacherib was “spared.” God did not allow him to be counted among the number of dead on the field. But this didn’t mean He was being merciful in doing so. Instead, Sennacherib was killed by one of his own sons in Ninevah.
Here we read about a very well-known Bible story. The one of Hezekiah’s recovery from a sickness from which he should have died. Of course, we know the story of how, while sick, Isaiah came and delivered the Lord’s Word to him, that he should put his house in order, because he was going to die.
As anyone would, in this situation, Hezekiah pleaded with the Lord for his life. And he had some pretty good reasons for making the proposal. He had walked in truth before God, doing those things that were good in God’s sight. And he cried bitterly.
Hezekiah Changes God’s Mind
Never think for a moment that God’s mind never changes. While there is an entire other debate on the “why” related to this, it is actually a fact in a few places in Scripture. This time, Hezekiah’s prayer is what made the decision final. And it was a quick decision. Even before Isaha had made it through the middle court, leaving the King’s bedside, God turned him and told him to tell Hezekiah He had heard his prayer.
Very symbolic of God’s restoration of Jerusalem, Hezekiah’s own restoration was that he would receive fifteen more years to his life. In doing so, God not only gave him more time added to his life, but also the opportunity to walk before God in righteousness for the remainder of those years.
Again, God says that this will be for His sake, and for the sake of His servant David.
Asking for a Sign
Hezekiah’s father had not asked for a sign, the way that Hezekiah did. But Hezekiah had a good reason. He knew that he could not go into God’s house until God had completely healed him. For that, he needed a sign so that he could do so in good faith.
So God agreed to show mercy on him and did give him a sign, even though He didn’t have to. What’s more, the sign that He gave was utterly miraculous. He would make the sundial’s shadow move BACKWARDS. See how amazing God is in confirmation? He not only added fifteen extra years to Hezekiah’s life, but even gave him extra time on this particular day.
Pride Goeth Before the Fall
Pride rose up in Hezekiah’s heart, though, as he pretty much laid out all his treasure after Babylon’s King sent a letter to him. In fact, he showed them ALL his treasure. Sure, it must have felt pretty good for the King of a rising world superpower to take notice of him. But it was foolish to react the way he did.
There is certainly something about refusing your own self when you think you have to impress someone else with your “stuff.” Especially when they are not believers.
What Hezekiah WAS and WASN’T
Up to this point, there were lots of ways to describe Hezekiah:
- Reciever of a miracle
- Possessed long life
- Connected to an amazing prophet
- Honored by God
Unfortunately, it only took the attention of the Babylonians to create a prideful heart in his man. His confidence was suddenly in the flesh. Instead of taking this opportunity to tell these heathen Babylonians about the God that can make it possible for all these things to come to pass – the health, the miracle, the possessions and treasure and more – he gloried in the fact that he HAD MANY THINGS instead of glorying in THE ONE WHO GAVE THEM.
It’s almost like pride remained in place in Hezekiah’s heart as he told Isaiah that the Babylonians knew about everything in his house. While pride was abundant, his vision and foresight, apparently, was not.
Instead of impressing the Babylonians with his and his nation’s “greatness,” it actually allowed Babylon the knowledge of where they could find good’s for the taking when they decided it was time. We will see the fulfillment of this in 2 Kings Chapter 24 & 25 as Nebuchadnezzar takes the reigns in Babylon.
Unfortunately, Hezekiah’s response to Isaiah’s decree of impending doom for his country was that at least it wouldn’t happen in his lifetime. He was, overall, a very Godly man, and a very Godly king, but the added years he got did not translate into more of the same.
There are so many things to think about in these two chapters. As the 20th chapter closed, however, I wonder how a man who received an extra fifteen years of life could show so much prideful and arrogant? Even in learning that his beloved homeland would fall, all the treasures would be carried away, and even his sons and daughters would be enslaved. It still didn’t change his response to Isaiah!
What would you do if you knew you only had fifteen more years to live for God?
Lord, we thank You for the opportunity to serve You and we count it an honor. Help up to live our lives in a way that pleases You. Help us to never ever have a prideful heart or the arrogance to believe that anything we have is from anything or anyone other than You and You alone. We praise and honor You and give You the glory that is due Your Name, and ask these things in Jesus’ mighty Name! Amen.