The Observations.net Weblog
The book of 2 Kings describes Hezekiah as a good man. 2 Kings 18:3 says, “And he did [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did.“ Only he and his great-grandson Josiah tore down the high places [the hilltop altars to pagan deities]. They were the two holiest men to wear the crown of David.
Yet, even Hezekiah could sin and bring judgement. And his sin was to doubt God and to turn to the Egyptians for help against the Assyrians. Beginning in chapter 28 of his prophecy, Isaiah preaches fiercely against Hezekiah‘s sinful foreign policy.
Isaiah 28:14-15: “Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which [is] in Jerusalem. Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves:“
Isaiah 29:1-4: “Woe to Ariel [Jerusalem], to Ariel, the city [where] David dwelt! add ye year to year; let them kill sacrifices. Yet I will distress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow: and it shall be unto me as Ariel. And I will camp against thee round about, and will lay siege against thee with a mount, and I will raise forts against thee. And thou shalt be brought down, ...“
Isaiah 30:1-3: “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the LORD, that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt! Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt [your] confusion.“
God expected His people to trust in Him, not the pagan Egyptians. Isaiah makes it clear that until King Hezekiah repents of his sin, and turns to God and God alone for help, Judah will suffer. And suffer it does. Judah‘s fortified cities are destroyed by the Assyrians. (2 Kings 18:13) In essence, Judah loses all its territory beyond Jerusalem to Assrya. Assyria extorts huge sums of money from Judah. (2 Kings 18:14) And Judah is forced humiliate itself before Assyria by turning over its morst revered treasures. (2 Kings 18:15)
Finally, the Assyrian armies camp outside the gates of Jerusalem. They cut off all food supplies. They terrify the inhabitants of Jerusalem and make a laughingstock of Hezekiah. The Assyrian military commander cries out from just outside the city walls in earshot of the city‘s people, “Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, [even] upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so [is] Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him.“ (2 Kings 18:21)
The Assyrians hold the Egyptians in contempt. They are totally worthless. It would be as if the Assyrian were saying, “Hezekiah, you trusted the Busheviks to save you?“
The Assyrian commander says futher, “Thus saith the [Assyrian] king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand: Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make [an agreement] with me by a present, and come out to me, and [then] eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern: 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, that ye may live, and not die: and hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuadeth you, saying, The LORD will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria?“ (2 Kings 18:29-33)
Finally, Hezekiah is finally willing to repent. Hezekiah throws himself before God and pleads with the Lord to intervene. He says:
“And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest [between] the cherubims, thou art the God, [even] thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, And have cast their gods into the fire: for they [were] no gods, but the work of men‘s hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou [art] the LORD God, [even] thou only.“ (2 Kings 19:15-19)
God listens to Hezekiah‘s prayer. He sends a message to Hezekiah through Isaiah that Jerusalem will be saved and that the Assyrian king Sennacherib will be slain. (2 Kings 19:20-34)The Lord then sends His angel who kills 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Sennacherib must retreat and Jerusalem is given new life. (2 Kings 19:35-37)
There is great meaning in this account. Despite his sin, Hezekiah is still reckoned by the book of Kings as one of the truly good rulers of Judah. This tells us that when we have done wrong and disappointed God, our lives aren‘t over. God can repair our lives and still make me us good men of God.
* posted by Robert on Sun 09/07/03