#31 for October 18, 2018
How do you respond to trouble and threats? Let me tell you about one of my favorite Bible characters: King Hezekiah.
Isaiah preached in Judah during the reigns of King Hezekiah, his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Isaiah was Hezekiah’s subject while also leading him as a man of God. Isaiah asserted God can be trusted.
Are these just words? Or is it true that God is trustworthy?
Hezekiah had seen his father, Ahaz, rule for sixteen years before he died, leaving Hezekiah to be king. At 25, Hezekiah was old enough to know his father had done wrong, particularly in his idolatry and child sacrifice. Isaiah’s preaching was undoubtedly a great influence on the young Hezekiah, who had seen the judgment of the Lord because of Ahaz’ sins. He knew his father chose to trust Assyria instead of God.
When Hezekiah began to reign, he made a covenant with the Lord and reinstated the tithe and worship systems. He was a good king, and apparently tried to undo much of his father’s disobedience. He destroyed the objects and places of idol worship and restored God’s temple which his father had desecrated.
Hezekiah trusted in the Lord and even invited the northern kingdom of Israel to a Passover, saying “O people of Israel, return to the Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you….yield yourselves to the Lord, and come to his sanctuary…and serve the Lord your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you…..For the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you if you return to him,” (2 Chron. 30:6-9).
Most of Israel laughed and mocked (v.10-11) and only a few of them came. But the people of Judah were of one heart to obey the king. There was massive revival in the land of Judah. They wanted to return to the LORD and obey him.
In the fourteenth year of his reign, Hezekiah was tested. The King of Assyria came against Judah. He was angry that Hezekiah refused to serve him. Hezekiah had trusted and served God from the beginning of his reign, but King Sennacherib presented a new challenge in trust.
Assyria was a great world power, and Sennacherib expected everyone to be terrified of him. Yet, Hezekiah had dared to withhold tribute money. So the Assyrian King sent a message to try to scare him into submission.
Hezekiah responded by putting on sackcloth and going to the temple to pray. He sent officials to Isaiah with news of the trouble, asking for prayer.
Isaiah gave him God’s message: “Do not be afraid…. he shall hear a rumor, and return to his own land; and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.”
This is much the same as what Isaiah had told Ahaz in Isaiah 7:4. But Hezekiah believed Isaiah. Instead of responding to Sennacherib’s threatening letters, he went to the temple and spread the letter out before God in prayer. (Hezekiah’s beautiful prayer is in Isaiah 37:14–20). He trusted God, Creator of heaven and earth.
Sennacherib mocked and insulted The Holy One of Israel who knows everything about everyone. God promised the enemy would not set foot in Jerusalem because God would defend the city. The arrogant Sennacherib, who boasted he could defeat Israel’s God, ended up assassinated by his own sons.
Hezekiah passed the test victoriously! He trusted God and God came through for him.