Timely Lessons from the Life of Hezekiah

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Timely Lessons from the Life of Hezekiah

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With Passover approaching and the introspection one needs especially at this time of year, it seems timely to refer to the example God has given us in the Bible of King Hezekiah. The main accounts of Hezekiah’s reign are found in 2 Kings 18-20, Isaiah 36-39, and 2 Chronicles 29-32.

Remember Hezekiah came to the throne of Judah at the age of 25 years. He ruled with his whole heart by zealous enthusiasm for God, which spread to the people of Judah and throughout Israel. He showed great humility and wisdom and God caused him to prosper through tremendous blessings.

Hezekiah became famous for many things, but I want to look at just one of the reasons why God blessed Hezekiah so abundantly.

Ironically Hezekiah grew up under the rule of his wicked father Ahaz, so he didn’t exactly have a good role model to look to. King Ahaz faltered in every conceivable way against God, even sacrificing one of his sons to Molech through the fire (2 Kings 16:1-4 2 Kings 16:1-4 [1] In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah Ahaz the son of Jotham king of Judah began to reign. [2] Twenty years old was Ahaz when he began to reign, and reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, and did not that which was right in the sight of the LORD his God, like David his father. [3] But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yes, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel. [4] And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree.
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). Perhaps Ahaz had no time or interest in his son and instead Hezekiah was influenced by his mother Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. In any event, Hezekiah immediately changed everything once he assumed the throne and had the power to do so. God did not expect Hezekiah to take on the huge task of turning the kingdom around by himself. God gave Hezekiah the Hebrew prophet Isaiah to help him throughout his life.

Hezekiah immediately destroys pagan idols

In the first month of his reign, Hezekiah immediately got to work and smashed down all the pagan altars and wooden images throughout the hills of Judah. He began to clean out and repair the temple and restored temple worship. The temple had been neglected for many years to the point where the rooms were full of junk and rubbish, including idols in the sanctuary. Hezekiah gave orders for the Levites to begin the sanctification of the Lord’s house, for them and the animals slaughtered for sacrificial atonement of the sins for all Israel, and this was carried out quickly over 16 days, but not in time for the Passover. There was just so much to do in such a short period of time to be ready for the Passover. You can read about all the details in 2 Chronicles 29 and 30. Hence, King Hezekiah and his people kept a second Passover (Numbers 9:10-12 Numbers 9:10-12 [10] Speak to the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover to the LORD. [11] The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. [12] They shall leave none of it to the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.
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) and did so with such joy and enthusiasm that they kept the Days of Unleavened Bread for an additional seven days. Hezekiah began his reign with total heartfelt dedication and obedience to God. He also showed godly attitude and concern for his people

In 2 Kings 18:5-7 2 Kings 18:5-7 [5] He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. [6] For he held to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses. [7] And the LORD was with him; and he prospered wherever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.
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we are told, “He (Hezekiah) 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, which the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went” (New King James Version). Despite the many accounts of others attempting to overthrow his rule, God blessed Hezekiah for success in conquering his enemies despite seemingly overwhelming odds, and so he conquered the Philistines and the relentless evil Sennacherib.

Hezekiah seeks God to fight for the people of Israel

The famous account of Sennacherib, king of Assyria in approximately 701 B.C., who attempted to overthrow and capture Jerusalem, is a very interesting read in 2 Kings 19. God intervened for Hezekiah by sending an angel to destroy 185,000 Assyrians in one night. Why did God do this? Hezekiah was faithful and sought God through prayer. Hezekiah listened to God through the prophet Isaiah despite Sennacherib’s false words and lies, trickery, cunning, deceit, ridicule, taunting, intimidation and reputation for severe cruelty. In 2 Kings 19:14-19 2 Kings 19:14-19 [14] And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. [15] And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwell between the cherubim, you are the God, even you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. [16] LORD, bow down your ear, and hear: open, LORD, your eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which has sent him to reproach the living God. [17] Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, [18] 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. [19] Now therefore, O LORD our God, I beseech you, save you us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you are the LORD God, even you only.
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and Isaiah 37:14-20 Isaiah 37:14-20 [14] And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up to the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. [15] And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD, saying, [16] O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwell between the cherubim, you are the God, even you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: you have made heaven and earth. [17] Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see: and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which has sent to reproach the living God. [18] Of a truth, LORD, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations, and their countries, [19] 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. [20] Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you are the LORD, even you only.
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you can read exactly what Hezekiah did when faced with these threats in the form of a delivered letter. His prayer was so heartfelt, humble and praiseworthy to God. God indeed listened to Hezekiah’s prayers and delivered His people.

Arrogant Sennacherib was feared by so many due to the abject terror he displayed, but as soon as he returned home to Nineveh he was brutally killed by his sons and his untimely end can be referred to in 2 Kings 19:36-37 2 Kings 19:36-37 [36] So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelled at Nineveh. [37] And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead.
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.

God extends Hezekiah’s life

At some point after this Hezekiah became ill and was near death. Isaiah came to Hezekiah in the palace and told him that he must set his house in order, as he will shortly die. Upon hearing this proclamation Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to God and wept bitterly, asking nothing more than he be remembered for his loyalty (2 Kings 20:1-3 2 Kings 20:1-3 [1] In those days was Hezekiah sick to death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, Thus said the LORD, Set your house in order; for you shall die, and not live. [2] Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the LORD, saying, [3] I beseech you, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before you in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in your sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.
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). Even before Isaiah left the building, God told him to return and tell Hezekiah that He saw his tears and He would heal him and add 15 years to his life. Isaiah returned and put figs on the boil of Hezekiah’s flesh and he was healed. 

God did even more than this for Hezekiah. He gave him a sign of his own choosing to know that he would be healed. Through the prophet Isaiah, God offered Hezekiah a choice of whether he wanted the shadow on the sundial to move forward or backward by ten degrees. Hezekiah reasoned that moving time backward would be more difficult, as time always moves forward. This is spoken of in 2 Kings 20:8-11 2 Kings 20:8-11 [8] And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the LORD will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the LORD the third day? [9] And Isaiah said, This sign shall you have of the LORD, that the LORD will do the thing that he has spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? [10] And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: no, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees. [11] And Isaiah the prophet cried to the LORD: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz.
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. Imagine God turning back time for one of us if we asked Him to! 

News of Hezekiah’s illness reaches Babylon

In 2 Kings 20:12-19 2 Kings 20:12-19 [12] At that time Berodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. [13] And Hezekiah listened to them, and showed them all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armor, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not. [14] Then came Isaiah the prophet to king Hezekiah, and said to him, What said these men? and from from where came they to you? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country, even from Babylon. [15] And he said, What have they seen in your house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in my house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not showed them. [16] And Isaiah said to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD. [17] Behold, the days come, that all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have laid up in store to this day, shall be carried into Babylon: nothing shall be left, said the LORD. [18] And of your sons that shall issue from you, which you shall beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. [19] Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which you have spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days?
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we see that Berodach-Baladan, son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, and the Bible says that Hezekiah was responsive to this attention. So much so that Hezekiah welcomed him without regard to intent or purposes, and readily showed him everything he had in his treasury house, his entire armory, and all within his dominion. In fact, there was nothing that he did not show Berodach-Baladan. 

Obviously this was not a wise thing to do. Hezekiah got caught up rather naively in thinking that the king of Babylon and his son meant well and wanted to bring gifts as part of genuine concern for his health and well-being, and to show kindness and peace. Having had God work so miraculously in fighting his battles, news of Hezekiah and his success over the “undefeated” king of Assyria would have spread to far-off lands. It would appear that Hezekiah was caught in a weak moment of pride while abundance and peace prevailed. God allowed for Hezekiah to be tested so he would know exactly all that was in his heart. In 2 Chronicles 32:25-26 2 Chronicles 32:25-26 [25] But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done to him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath on him, and on Judah and Jerusalem. [26] Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not on them in the days of Hezekiah.
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we are told that Hezekiah’s heart was lifted up and that wrath was impending over him, Judah and Jerusalem. But “then Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah.” 

When Isaiah confronted Hezekiah by asking what the visitors had seen in his house, Hezekiah responded truthfully and told him that not one thing was held back from their sight. Isaiah then declared from the word of the Lord that everything Hezekiah and his fathers had accumulated until this time would be carried off to Babylon. Not only that, but some of Hezekiah’s sons would become eunuchs in the king of Babylon’s palace.

There are always consequences to each and every decision we make. God chose not to punish Hezekiah directly because of his repentant attitude, but the consequences would be put onto the forthcoming generations.

Some lessons for God’s people today

As soon as we understand we must show God obedience. If we put it off for tomorrow that is not being obedient. Be like Hezekiah. He went straightaway in prayer with the letter from Sennacherib and again when told he was about to die. Deal with all things in a timely and humble way. Go to God straightaway. Don’t be tempted to lean on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6 Proverbs 3:5-6 [5] Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding. [6] In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.
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).

God will always be there for us. We may not have Isaiah, but He has given us another, greater Helper. Read John 14:16-17 John 14:16-17 [16] And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; [17] Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but you know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you.
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. The Helper is referred to as God’s Holy Spirit in John 14:26 John 14:26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatever I have said to you.
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.Of course we know that the Holy Spirit is the very essence of the Father and the Son. Jesus was telling the disciples that He would help them.

If for some reason, through no fault of your own doing, you are unable to partake in the Passover despite making every effort to be ready, then God will accept you through the institution of the Second Passover. Do not be disappointed, depressed, sad or angry, but be ready and willing to wholeheartedly join in this celebration as God instructed in Numbers 9:10-12 Numbers 9:10-12 [10] Speak to the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover to the LORD. [11] The fourteenth day of the second month at even they shall keep it, and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. [12] They shall leave none of it to the morning, nor break any bone of it: according to all the ordinances of the passover they shall keep it.
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. God is watching every one of us to see the manner in which we prepare for and keep His Feasts. Prepare well and thoroughly. Keep them in visible joy.

Pray

Prayer cannot ever be underestimated. Like Hezekiah, if we seek God out, He will be found. Do not take matters into your own hands like we sometimes want to do. Lay down your evidence from those against you before God and humbly state your case. He will justify you as long as you have and show total faith and trust in Him

Show God a humble, repentant attitude and heart. This is what pleases Him. Be like King Hezekiah and King David, both of whom had passionate humility, deeply feeling sorrow for their inappropriate actions to the very core of their hearts. God’s mercy is always available to people with a sincere and fully repentant attitude.

Don’t let your guard down. Despite the many blessings God gives to us each and every day, and the mighty battles He fights for us whether through trials and testing, or through vanquishing our enemies, be alert. Not all is as it appears. In Matthew 10:16 Matthew 10:16Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the middle of wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
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God tells us, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”

For more information about the Passover, request our free study aid God’s Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind. And for more examples of faith and living in faith, read You Can Have Living Faith.

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