Following the chronological reading plan from Blue Letter Bible, we'll pause in Isaiah once again and return to the larger narrative in II Kings and II Chronicles. In the previous chapter to this one, II Kings 17, we read of the final whimper of the northern kingdom of Israel. Many of the people are hauled off, strangers brought in, and a priest left behind to teach them God's way.
Now, in Chapter 18, we transition to Judah and the rule of Hezekiah.
As was the method of the author, the king's reign was measured from his orientation to the other kingdom's reign. In this case, Hezekiah became King of Judah in the third year of the Israel's king's reign, Hoshea. (v.1)
He was 25 years old when he became king. He reigned 29 years. (v. 2) The MacArthur Commentary states that Hezekiah's reign started as co-regent with Ahaz. They include his 29 years being 715-686 B.C., 20 years on his own and 9 with his son, Manasseh. MacArthur also notes that the two prophet during his reign were Isaiah and Micah.
Wiersbe states that "Hezekiah" means "The Lord Strengthens."
Woo hoo! He did RIGHT in the sight of the Lord, according to his father, David. (proverbial father) (v.3)
- removed the high places (v. 4)
- broke down the sacred pillars
- cut down the Asherah
- interestingly, he had to break down the historic bronze serpent made by Moses to bring healing to those who would "look up". As is our tendency to do, the people became to idolize it, instead of the God who had it fashioned for their healing.
- He trusted in the Lord God of Israel. (v. 5)
- There were after him or before him that were like him
For he clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but he kept his commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses.II Kings 18:6
Starting in verse 7 we learn that the Lord was with Hezekiah.
- wherever he went he prospered
- he rebelled against the king of Assyrian and did not serve him
- he defeats the Philistines as far as Gaza
Then, starting in verse 9, it's the fourth year of Hezekiah's reign and the seventh year of King Hoshea's reign in neighboring Israel. Shalmaneser, King of Assyria besieges Samaria. It took three years, but they captured it. As we read earlier, Assyria carried Israel away.
Things Take a Turn (Verse 13-
Ten years later, in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah's reign, another king of Assyria, Sennacherib, came against all of the cities of Judah and seized them.
- Hezekiah capitulates and agrees to pay whatever Sennacherib charges
- He pays 300 talents of silver and 30 talents of gold (Ryrie converts this to 360,000 ounces of silver and 36,000 ounces of gold.)
- Then gives him all of the silver in the house of the Lord
- and all of the treasuries ion the king's house
- Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors and door posts from the Temple of the Lord
As with all evil bullies, paying him off wasn't enough. The king of Assyria sent a large army to Jerusalem. Government officials came out to meet the army leader. The Assyria leader send message back to Hezekiah and asked where Hezekiah's confidence comes from? He asks what counsel and strength for war does Hezekiah have that he would rebel against Assyria. He goes on to goad Judah for relying on Egpyt, who had also been crushed.
He then goes on to ask if Hezekiah trusts in the Lord our God, why did he pull down the high places and forced everyone to worship in Jerusalem?
Then, he offers Hezekiah two thousand horses to come and make a bargain with the king of Assyria, assuming Hezekiah could even collect two thousand horsemen.
Outlandishly, the Assyrian leader then claims that he has the Lord's approval to destroy Jerusalem.
Starting in verse 26, the officials from Judah asked the Assyrian commander to speak in Arabic so the people from Judah on the wall couldn't understand; in response the official starts yelling at the people in Judean to "warn" them, since they will be the ones suffering during a siege.
- He tells them not to let Hezekiah deceive them He cannot save them.
- He also tells them not to let Hezekiah make them trust in the Lord.
- He brazenly goes on to promise them that, if they will make peace with the Assyrian king, he will food from his vines and figs and water from his cistern.
- He promises that the place he will take them is filled with grain and wine and bread and olives and they will live and not die.
- Finally, he reminds them that Hezekiah will try and mislead them by promising that "The Lord will deliver us."
- He points out that no other gods have saved the other lands conquered by Assyria. He lists then other gods and then asks why the Lord would be different in delivering Jerusalem.
The people of Judah who listened were silent in response, because Hezekiah told them "Do not answer him."
Then the officials from Judah came to Hezekiah, clothes torn in grief with the message from the Assyrian commander.
Wow. the Blue Letter Bible pauses the story here in II Kings...mid-story. I am supposed to read several other passages from multiple books before returning! It looks like there is some question of the chronological order of events in Hezekiah's life, so I may have to circle back around after the chapters in II Chronicles and Isaiah on the same events.
One personal thought before leaving this season cliffhanger...we war not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities of this dark world. I'm sure this official had grown quite proud, and probably quite evil by this time, with his rank and unbroken chain of victories. He confidently lied and mocked the Judean officials and people. We see that in our world. Government leaders, media, entertainment all now call good evil and evil good. They lie and promise and mock, all with our destruction in their minds and hearts. But we see what Hezekiah asked of his people- don't say anything in return. I'll take care of this. Just like our Lord doesn't want us battling people, but the real evil in the powers and principalities of this dark world.
We pray and we trust our KING.