Thursday, May 3, 2012

2 Kings 18-20 & 2 Chronicles 29-32 - Hezekiah the King

LINK: 2 Kings 18-20 & 2 Chronicles 29-32 (read over the next week)

I decided to put the whole life of Hezekiah in one post with both the 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles accounts. 2 Chronicles devotes much more time to all the religious reforms of Hezekiah.  That is because the temple is central in 2 Chronicles. 2 Kings focuses more on his military movements.


Most commentators believe that the events in both 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles are not chronological. Also, they overlap with the prophet Isaiah in chapters 36-39. We will go through the whole life of Hezekiah before we turn to that big book so as not to break up the flow of history.

BACKGROUND


Israel is no more. They have been carried off in the Assyrian captivity. Now, we will see the last days of the surviving kingdom of Judah from 2 Kings 18-25 and the parallel account in 2 Chronicles 29-36.


Hezekiah of Judah - 2 Kings 18-20, 2 Chronicles 29-32


Reigned: 715-686 B.C. for 29 years, vice-regency under father, Ahaz, for 14 years (729-715 B.C.) and vice-regency with his son, Manasseh, for 11 years (697-686 B.C.)


Character: The Best


Overlap with Israel's King: Hoshea during Hezekiah's co-regency with his father, Ahaz (732-722 B.C.)


Manner of death: Natural 


Hezekiah's name means "the Lord strengthens," and he lived up to his name by seeking the Lord's strength. He was considered Judah's best king. In the first two months of his reign, he removed the high places, put an end to idol worship, and restored worship in the temple. "He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done" (2 Chronicles 29:2). This is phenomenal when you consider that his father was such a bad king who defiled the temple, closed its doors, stopped the ministry of the Levites, and practiced idolatry (2 Chronicles 28:24; 2 Kings 16:10ff). Hezekiah lived above his upbringing!

In addition, Hezekiah invited people from both Judah and Israel to come to the temple in Jerusalem and worship the Lord because it was the only true center of worship (see Deuteronomy 12). He also restored the observance of Passover (2 Chronicles 30). (See HERE for a previous post about the Passover.) The people's return to worship shamed the priests into action. They sanctified themselves and brought offerings to the temple (2 Chronicles 30:15).


Regardless of the mocking of the people outside of Judah and the mocking of the king of Assyria when he attacked Judah, Hezekiah remained steadfast and fought the Lord's battle exactly where it should have been fought: on his knees! God honored his prayers by defeating Assyria.


Isaiah prophesied that Hezekiah would die, but Hezekiah's faith-filled intercession caused God to hear his prayer and see his tears and heal him, giving him fifteen more years of life (701-686 B.C.). He showed this through the sign of the shadow on the "stairway of Ahaz." Some commentators say this was an Egyptian sundial in the form of a miniature staircase with shadows moving up and down the staircase. Other commentators say is was a literal staircase built by King Ahaz. Hezekiah had pride in his heart and did not respond to the Lord's kindness. Hezekiah humbled the pride of his heart though and the Lord's wrath was averted (2 Kings 20:1-11; 2 Chronicles 32:24-26). 


Merodach-Baladan reigned Babylon during two time periods: 721-710 and 703-702 B.C. He sent an envoy to Judah to seek King Hezekiah's support as an ally in the anti-Assyrian effort but also to find out how strong Judah was. Hezekiah made a foolish mistake and failed the Lord's test in showing the Babylonian envoy all of his wealth and armaments and revealed more of his proud heart (2 Chronicles 32:25-31; 2 Kings 20:12-19; Isaiah 39:1-8). This led to Isaiah's sad prophecy regarding the end of Judah at the hands of the Babylonians.



In spite of his pride, Hezekiah responded well to the "word of the LORD" (2 Kings 20:19).
He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him. For he clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. (2 Kings 18:5-6)
Only a handful of people in the Bible are given 10 or more chapters in the Bible: Moses, David, Paul, and Hezekiah are a few. Of course, those chapters are scattered between three books: 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, and Isaiah!

REFLECTION



Oh PRIDE! It got even good King Hezekiah in the end, and it can get all of us because it is one of the evil one's greatest tools:
Pride is one of Satan’s chief weapons in his battle against the Lord and His people. Satan himself committed the sin of pride when he rebelled against God and sought the worship and obedience that God alone deserves (Isa. 14:12–15). Pride makes us rob God of the glory that belongs to Him alone. Pride gives us a feeling of false security and this leads us into sin and defeat. Charles Spurgeon said to his London congregation, “Be not proud of race, face, place, or grace.” Good advice! William Barclay wrote, “Pride is the ground in which all the other sins grow, and the parent from which all the other sins come.
(Wiersbe, W. W. (2002). Be distinct, p. 135)
Be aware! No one is immune to pride.

APPLICATION


How is your pride meter today? There are many verses on pride, pray through some of them:


Leviticus 26:19

Psalm 36:11
Proverbs 8:13
Proverbs 11:2
Proverbs 16:18
Proverbs 21:24
Proverbs 29:23
Isaiah 2:17
Micah 6:8

Also, the book Praying God's Word by Beth Moore has an excellent chapter called "Overcoming Pride." I heartily recommend this book. It is fantastic for your prayer life!



"Pride is the deification of self" 
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

PRAYER



Lord, You bring down rulers from their thrones, but You exalt the humble (Luke 1:52). Please show us the areas of pride in our life and root it out so that we might give ONLY YOU the glory and honor. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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