2 Kings 18-20: Hezekiah

King Hezekiah was on of the Souther Kingdom of Israel's God-fearing kings. Although he is not perfect, he takes great strides to turn Israel back to the Lord.

Introduction

Hezekiah takes over as king of Judah during the 3rd year of Hoshea. During his reign, Judah watches Samaria and the northern kingdom be taken captive by Assyria. Meanwhile, Assyria was clamoring to conquer Judah next. I imagine the atmosphere was much like that of countries across Europe during World War II. The question for the citizens would not have been if Assyria attacked, but when would Assyria attack. With God on their side, Judah would have been able to defeat any enemy that came it's way, but Judah wasn't immune to the idolatry that had plagued the northern kingdom. Luckily, Hezekiah was one of the kings who trusted in God and led the people toward righteousness. Unlike the kings before him—including those who had followed God—Hezekiah destroyed the pagan and illegal altars that were being used in the kingdom.
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A Peace Treaty

Hezekiah's obedience to God may have earned him a pass in giving much of the Temple's wealth to Assyria in exchange for peace. Hezekiah is neither praised nor condemned for this action, so it is unclear if God accepted this or expected Hezekiah to coalesce an army to fight for their land. God would have known that Judah would eventually fall to Babylon, but it isn't obvious whether Hezekiah's actions contributed, if only even the tiniest bit, to God's anger toward Judah. A sign that God may not have been pleased with the way the matter was handled is the fact that the treaty doesn't last.
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Taunting God

The king of Assyria shows up at Jerusalem's gates to taunt the Israelites. He sends a message to Hezekiah attempting to derail the Israelites' faith in the walls of Jerusalem. Assyria's argument was that Hezekiah had angered God by tearing down the illegal places of worship. He also claims that God cannot save the people, but the messengers do not respond to this disrespect.

This is much like the actions of today. Many people don't actually understand the true relationship with God we are to have so participate in pagan practices. When those practices are threatened, they side against God to protect the pagan tradition. Every day people fall for the enemy's claim that God will be angry at us for turning back to His law. If we are not strong in our relationship with God, we would fall for Assyria's claim that God sent them to punish Hezekiah for doing what was actually the right thing. God often sent armies from other nations to attack the Israelites due to his anger towards the Israelites, so it's easy to see how the Israelites would be quick to believe their king was in the wrong when their peace shattered. When the Israelites take the message they've been given back to Hezekiah they rent their clothes, proving that despite their stoic lack of response to the king of Assyria, his words had brought them despair.
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Consulting God

When Hezekiah hears the despair of his people, he is saddened and seeks counsel from God. The prophet of Hezekiah's time was Isaiah, and Hezekiah wisely trusted his counsel. In this situation, Isaiah tells Hezekiah not to be afraid of the Assyrian king's blasphemous threats. God has promised that not only will He take care of Judah, but the Assyrians will fall on their own sword.
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A Powerful Prayer

Hezekiah's prayer to God is quite powerful. I think it is a beautiful example of true faith; it states all of the basics about how we should view ourselves and God. First, Hezekiah acknowledges that God is the Creator of all things and the only God. Second, he asks God to intercede in the situation. Hezekiah admits that Assyria is powerful and has defeated the gods of the surrounding nations, but Hezekiah also proclaims that those gods were not real. This is a reiteration of Hezekiah's statement that God is the only God. Hezekiah ends the prayer with his request for God to defeat Assyria. Even though this is beneficial to Judah, Hezekiah actually asks for God to show Assyria what the true God of the world is capable of and give testimony to the world that the God of Israel is the supreme God. Essentially, Hezekiah is asking God to take advantage of the situation to spread His glory and remind the world who is in charge. This may be part of the blessings Israel was provide the rest of the world.

Naturally, God agrees to use this moment to showcase His power and protect the city of Jerusalem. God also sets forth a task for the people to stir their faith. God instructs them to eat only that which grows voluntarily for the next two years. On the third year they could sow the land again. This is similar to the Year of Jubilee, which was commanded by God and written in the Books of Law. Whether it was actually the Year of Jubilee, or not, was irrelevant; God assured them that these uncultivated fruits and herbs would be enough for the people (and it was).
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The Battle

When Sennacherib, king of Assyria, camps outside of Judah to prepare for the attack, God springs into action. That night, God smites their army such that they are forced to return to Assyria. Some time after their retreat Senacherib is killed by two of his sons while praying to a pagan god. A third son of his presumes the throne.

Sennacherib was king of Assyria from 705 - 619 bc
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Sickness

Possibly during this whole ordeal, Hezekiah falls ill. Isaiah tells Hezekiah that God has confirmed his death. Given this information, Isaiah also instructs Hezekiah to get his house in order (i.e. choose a successor). Hezekiah pleads with God for a cure. In his plea, Hezekiah reminds God that he has walked in perfect faith and he weeps at his fate. God, being the merciful God He is, hears Hezekiah's plea and chooses to extend Hezekiah's life by 15 years.

God instructs them to place a fig on Hezekiah's boil, which was likely what was endangering his life, and the boil is miraculously healed. A quick search over the internet confirms that figs are often considered a home remedy for healing or soothing boils.[2] This knowledge likely stems from God's revelation of the cure to Isaiah for Hezekiah's benefit. In addition to these instructions, God gives Hezekiah a sign, at Hezekiah's request, that he will be healed.
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Downfall

Photocredit: FreeImages.com/Manuel De La Pena
Some time after Hezekiah is healed, a prince of Babylon visits seeking an alliance. Hezekiah shows off all of his wealth to this prince. Although we are not told that pride is what motivated Hezekiah's actions, Hezekiah is condemned by God for this action, which implies pride was involved.

Most of us are taught at an early age that it is not a good idea to show off wealth. If we are showing off our wealth to those who are less fortunate, it comes across as bragging. Furthermore, it places you as a target for theft. If people don't know what you have, there's more of a risk in attempting to steal from you—imagine getting caught after breaking in to an apartment that was completely empty. In Hezekiah's case, he was showing off the wealth of the nation. The U.S. is currently interested in the middle east because that's where most of the oil in the world is; the land itself is of value to us. However, we don't see the US entangled in what's happening in 3rd world countries such as Haiti. Why? Because in the U.S.'s mind, there is nothing there for us. If we tried to conquer a country like Haiti, we would only take on a financial burden. Similarly, when Hezekiah showed this Babylonian prince the wealth that was found in Israel, he tipped Babylon off that Israel was a country worth conquering.

This proves true in God's punishment decree. God declares that the Babylonians will take all that Hezekiah has shown them and that his sons would be eunuchs in Babylon instead of kings of Judah. Strangely, Hezekiah accepts this news as "good. " It is unclear whether he accepts this punishment because he knows he was in the wrong, or if he is merely happy that the effects will occur after his death.[3]
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The Name Hezekiah

Used almost exclusively in the Black community, Hezekiah is a popular name today. The name itself means "YHWH strengthens." The name ranked 678th in US popularity in 2015.[4] One famous Hezekiah of our day is gospel singer Hezekiah Walker.[5]
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References

  1. Henry W.F. Saggs. "Sennacherib". Encyclopæpdia Britannica. October 24, 2007
  2. Joe Willis and Elsa Willis. "Wounds and External Ailments". Amazing Health. August 27, 2009
  3. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible, pg. 672. 2014
  4. Mike Campbell. "Hezekiah". Behind the Name. 1996
  5. "Hezekiah Walker". Wikipedia; visited February 2017

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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