May 20, 2015

Hezekiah

In my personal time of studying the Bible last week, I read from 2 Kings.

I was really moved by the story of Hezekiah. He's not one of those figures in the Bible you usually hear about in a sermon or even Sunday school, but I think his story is worth being told more. Hezekiah is a descendant of David and an ancestor of Jesus. After numerous generations of idolatrous and evil kings in Judah, Hezekiah came on the scene.

He was only 25 when he became king, but Hezekiah did what so many other kings before him had failed to do. 

"He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.) Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses" (2 Kings 18:4-6).

Later on in the chapter, Assyria's king, Sennacherib, threatened war on Hezekiah and his people. Sennacherib sent his commander, who tried to convince the local people not to believe their king, Hezekiah, when he told them the Lord would save them. Still later, we see Sennacherib boasting about his exploits in a letter to Hezekiah, which is recorded in 2 Kings 19:10-13:

“Say to Hezekiah king of Judah: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you when he says, ‘Jerusalem will not be given into the hands of the king of Assyria.’ Surely you have heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all the countries, destroying them completely. And will you be delivered? Did the gods of the nations that were destroyed by my predecessors deliver them—the gods of Gozan, Harran, Rezeph and the people of Eden who were in Tel Assar? Where is the king of Hamath or the king of Arpad? Where are the kings of Lair, Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah?”

And what did Hezekiah do in response to these threats? I love this.

"Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the Lord and spread it out before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. “It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God" (2 Kings 19:14-19).

I love that Hezekiah's immediate response to the threats of an enemy was to go into the presence of the Lord. I was really struck by the image of Hezekiah spreading out the letter before the Lord and then entering into a time of prayer. Whenever trials come into my life, I want my knee-jerk reaction to echo Hezekiah's ... to lay those things before the Lord and seek him in prayer.

Oh, and in case you're wondering how this ended up ... God heard Hezekiah's prayer and delivered the nation from Sennacherib and his vast army.

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