King Hezekiah

2 Kings 18‑20:2 Chronicles 29‑32 & Isaiah 36‑39.

He was one of the most remarkable and faithful kings. 2 Chron.29:1‑2. Of all of the kings of Judah surely he was the finest and most devout. After King Solomon Israel had split into two: Israel with 10 tribes with Samaria as its capital, then Judah and Benjamin as the Kingdom of Judah with Jerusalem as its capital. Jeroboam was the first king of Israel and King Hoshea the last. Rehoboam was the first king of Judah and King Zedekiah the last. All other kings of Israel completely turned against God. Altogether Judah was ruled by 20 kings, including Hezekiah. In the comparative period King Hoshea ruled Israel nine years and he was a bad king who turned against God.

2 Kings 18:1‑4 (KJV) details, "In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also was Abi (Abijah), the daughter of Zachariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David…did."

Hezekiah’s father, Ahaz, was the one of the worst kings. 2 Chron.28:22‑25 says "In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD. He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, ‘Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me.’ But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel. Ahaz gathered together the furnishings from the temple of God and cut them in pieces. He shut the doors of the LORD’s temple and set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem. In every town in Judah he built high places to burn sacrifices to other gods and aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of his ancestors." Idol worship is against the commandments in Exodus 20:4‑5. Charles Russell and other expositors write that the secret to Hezekiah’s faithfulness was Abi, his godly mother. See Isa 8:3

How Hezekiah became a faithful king

One example of his faithfulness relates to what was called ‘Nehushtan’. Num.21:4‑9 says of the time of Moses "They travelled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!" Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people. The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived." Nehustan was that snake that was made.

2 Kings 18:4‑7 (KJV) Hezekiah "removed the high places, and break the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. He trusted in the LORD God...; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah,…For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses. The LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not." This shows how King Hezekiah completely obeyed God’s commandments and how he was led by God in the spirit.

It was just out of fear that the people in the wilderness had looked at the bronze snake with a desire to preserve their lives. Once the trouble had gone they went back to the same ways worse than ever. But real fear of God is to repent of sin and obey his commandments and to stay in his love. Jesus referred to this event when he made the famous statement in John 3:14‑16 (NKJV) "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should…have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting (eternal) life."

The beginning of Hezekiah’s reign

Hezekiah began by commanding the destruction of idols and he called together the priests and Levites and instructed them to sanctify themselves and set upon the task of cleaning out the house of the Lord, the Temple. He made arrangements to celebrate the Passover, which they had not followed for very long time. All the people were invited to realise their mistake, to repent, come back to God and obey his commandments. 2 Chron.30:1 "Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to the LORD."

What a gospel message to send to them to repent and turn their heart towards God. "Now do not be stiff‑necked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD; and enter His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of His wrath may turn away from you. For if you return to the LORD, your brethren and your children will be treated with compassion by those who lead them captive, so that they may come back to this land; for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him." (2 Chron.30:8‑9 NKJV).

However, many rejected him and only a few turned their hearts to God. 2 Chron.30:10‑11 (NKJV) says "the runners passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun; but they laughed at them and mocked them. Nevertheless some from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem." But "the Israelites who were present in Jerusalem celebrated the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days with great rejoicing, while the Levites and priests praised the LORD every day with resounding instruments dedicated to the LORD" (2 Chron.30:21). So due to his grace he celebrated the Passover in the next month following Nissan, Iyar, since he followed God’s commandments strictly. He saw their priests and Levites were unclean so took the decision to celebrate in a pure way and God blessed it as it says "since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem" (2 Chron.30:26).

The attack from King Sennacherib of Assyria

Because "the LORD was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him." (2 Kings 18:7 NKJV) Hezekiah had taken a stand for righteousness. He would not live in subjection to pagans or give in to their threats and intimidation. He rebelled by not paying their taxes and therefore during his 14th year Sennacherib entered Judah and started to attack. Sennacherib was the son of King Sargon II, who destroyed the kingdom of Israel and had become the successor of King Shalmaneser who captured Israel’s last king, Hoshea, during the 6th year of Hezekiah’s reign.

When Hezekiah saw the attack coming on Judah the first thing he did was to save Jerusalem. The Gihon Spring was Jerusalem’s main water source but it was outside of the city walls. (Bible researchers say this is the pool Jesus named in John 9.7 when He healed the blind man he was told “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam”.) Hezekiah knew that when the Assyrians laid siege to Jerusalem, the location of the spring would be disastrous—it would provide the besieging Assyrian army with water, while cutting off most of the water supply for those within Jerusalem’s walls. So he made the water to flow inside the city. "He consulted with his officials and military staff about blocking off the water from the springs outside the city...They gathered a large group of people who blocked all the springs and the stream. ‘Why should the kings of Assyria come and find plenty of water?’ they said". Then he worked hard repairing all the broken sections of the wall and building towers on it. He built another wall outside that one and reinforced the terraces of the City of David. He also made large numbers of weapons and shields. He appointed military officers over the people and assembled them before him in the square at the city gate and encouraged them with these words: ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles.’ And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said."

The same attack will be upon those, especially in the last days, who rebel against Satan and obey God’s word. It is a good example to be aware and plan to be ready to prevent such an attack. Our protective wall is the Holy Spirit which he promised all who abide in his words. Eph.6:10‑17 says, "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled round your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." It is important to remember at all times our enemies are limited, but our God is unlimited.

Making peace with Assyria (2 Kings 18:13‑16)

However, after this Hezekiah sent a message to King Sennacherib at Lachish apologising for the rebellion and offering to pay whatever tax and tribute he required. The gold and silver that the Sennacherib insisted upon was paid for by emptying Hezekiah's treasuries as well as the Temple. He even had to cut the gold from the Temple doors to make the payment.

This goes to show that even the godliest of men have seasons of stumbling. It was because the king of Assyria had captured most Israelites deporting them to Assyria as well as the towns of the Medes. (2 Kings 18:11‑12) That happened because they had not obeyed the Lord but had violated his covenant, all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, as they neither listened to the commands nor carried them out. Fortunately, Hezekiah’s weakness was not permanent, because of his relationship with the Lord. The scriptures clearly explain never to compromise with Satan and make peace with him but rather surrender to God because the Lord within is greater than the one in the world, who is trying to make us afraid. James 4:7 says "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." And 1 John 4:4 "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

Later Hezekiah tried to compromise by surrendering to Sennacherib. The Assyrians started to try Hezekiah’s belief in God through his ministers. (Isaiah 36:11 & 2 Kings 18:26…) "Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah (Hezekiah’s palace administrator), and Shebna (Hezekiah’s secretary) and Joah said to the field commander, ‘Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, since we understand it. Don’t speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people on the wall.’" This was because they were ashamed of the way the Assyrian could speak to them and make fun of Hezekiah and God. But Sennacherib’s commander replied "Was it only to your master and you that my master sent me to say these things, and not to the people sitting on the wall—who, like you, will have to eat their own excrement and drink their own urine?" Then the commander stood and called out in Hebrew "Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! This is what the king says: Do not let Hezekiah deceive you. He cannot deliver you from my hand. Do not let Hezekiah persuade you to trust in the LORD when he says, ‘The LORD will surely deliver us; this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ "Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own cistern, until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death! Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand?" (2 Kings 18:26‑34)

Compromising with Satan and his devices to make peace started to break the confidence of the people till they would have become slaves. They even began to curse the real God. The adversary has been doing this from creation for about 6,000 years and it is still happening in the whole world now. The truth is people are slaves through fear. God’s name has been questioned in various forms like asking ‘Where is your God?’ or ‘Why does God let this happen?’ Hezekiah soon realized his error and he repented and turned back to God.

Jerusalem’s deliverance

"When…Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the LORD. He sent Eliakim,…Shebna…and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah…. They told him,…Hezekiah says: This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them." (2 Kings 19:1‑3) Then Isaiah foretold the death of the king of Assyria. "The LORD says, ‘He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city….I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David.’" (2 Kings 19:32‑34) That night with an invisible scimitar the angel of the Lord cut down 185,000 dead. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31 KJV). Sennacherib turned in despair and when he got home, his own sons slew him (2 Kings 19:37) The lesson is that the new creature should not to be scared or lose faith, God will destroy the enemy, even as just one angel cut down an army of 185,000. (2 Kings 19:35‑36)

Extra 15 years reign

See how God forgave Hezekiah’s mistake, and saved him from danger and blessed him. However he still became sick unto death and was told by Isaiah to organise his household affairs. But God again showed His divine grace and changed His mind after Hezekiah’s humble prayer and guaranteed him an extra 15 years of life.

The lesson here is to understand how important it is to lead and be organised in the responsibility of looking after our earthly and spiritual family. How many have any assurance they are going to be alive tomorrow? The biggest destiny of sin is death and all our life is uncertainty. No one can guarantee long life but here God promised Hezekiah 15 more years.

Envoys from Babylon

At that time Marduk‑Baladan son of Baladan king of Babylon sent Hezekiah letters and a gift because he had heard of his illness and recovery. Hezekiah received the envoys gladly and showed them what was in his storehouses—the silver, the gold, the spices, the fine olive oil—his entire armoury and everything found among his treasures. There was nothing in his palace or his kingdom that Hezekiah did not show them. Isaiah asked Hezekiah about these distant visitors. Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon."

After the miracle and blessings God tested him to know what was in his heart. Hezekiah’s heart was proud so the Lord’s wrath was on him and on all Judah. (2 Chron.32:25‑31) Lucifer, Satan, desired to "ascend above the heights of the clouds" and to "be like the most High…yet (he) shalt be brought down to hell." (Isa.14:14‑15) God will preserve a people who will stay humble in His presence and will save a soul that will call upon Him. (Rom.10:13) "Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished." (Prov.16:5 KJV)

All in all, despite an idolatrous father, Hezekiah was a good king of faith. He reformed the nation and cleansed the Temple. Therefore God was with him and gave him victories like the one over Sennacherib. Moments of doubt and pride did lead to difficulties for him and the nation.