2 Chronicles 29–32 – Hezekiah
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One Reply to “King Hezekiah”
Hezekiah, to some the Second Solomon, “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done” (2 Chronicles 29:2). Well, his great…grandfather David, but that was just the style of referring to lineage. At this point in history, the Assyrians have taken the Northern Kingdom captive as punishment for forsaking God, “this is why our fathers have fallen by the sword and why our sons and daughters and our wives are in captivity” (29:9).
His first act as king, Hezekiah focused on restoring the temple and proper worship of the Lord (instead of killing off officials, etc): “in the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the Lord and repaired them…they began the consecration on the first day of the first month” (29:3 & 17). While he was sure to let the priests do the temple work, it’s clear it was by his authority and direction, “Hezekiah gave the order to sacrifice the burnt offering on the altar” and “King Hezekiah and his officials ordered the Levites to praise the Lord with the words of David and of Asaph the seer” (29:27 & 30). He knelt down and worshipped with his officials, honoring the One True God has been reestablished.
Hezekiah sent his word throughout Israel and Judah for all to celebrate the Passover–apparently, this hadn’t been done in a long while. He had couriers send letters inviting those who had escaped Assyrian exile to return to the Lord, “but people scorned and ridiculed them. Nevertheless, some from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem” (30:10-11). Some heard the word, though many were hardened.
Interestingly, many who returned to worship the Lord did not properly consecrate themselves, “contrary to what was written” (30:18), but Hezekiah prayed for them since they were willing to come, since they had shown faith in the crowds that ridiculed his messengers, “and the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people” (30:20). Such a great and fitting tribute!
They began to break down the Asherah poles, the idols and pagan places of worship. Hezekiah restored the offering collection so the Levites could focus on their jobs, “as soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits” (31:5). It’s always amazing how quickly a tithe adds up, how abundance overflows when God’s people simply contribute 10% from their earnings, their firstfruits. Soon the temple was filled with plenty to spare, “this is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God” (31:20). He prospered because he did what was right. Simple lesson.
Time for a visit from the King of Assyria, Sennacherib! Hezekiah made preparations for war and encourage his people, “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” (32:7). Sennacherib laid siege to Lachish and sent his official word to Hezekiah and the people: “Do not let Hezekiah deceive you and mislead you like this. Do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my predecessors” (32:15). Sennacherib is pretty confident, after all, he did carry away the Northern Kingdom! To his shame, Sennacherib ridiculed the Lord, spoke about God as if he were one of the gods destroyed by Hezekiah and the Lord had enough. Hezekiah joined with Isaiah to pray to God for help and they were answered:
Hezekiah apparently became proud of his accomplishments, an arrogant pride that nearly deceived him, but he repented and God forgave him.
The Babylonians became interested in Hezekiah after the defeat of the Assyrians and attempted to start an alliance (more details in 2 Kings 20). Hezekiah showed them all the treasures, the store houses, everything, in order to impress them. Isaiah was not pleased! “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” (Isaiah 39:6).
Other than that, Hezekiah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…oops! So the Babylonian exile is foretold, but the remnant is restored and invigorated, hope remains though times of mourning are at hand.
Lord keep us humble by allowing us to see the big picture as much as we can stand. Every time I begin to feel proud of some accomplishment, it pales in comparison to you Lord, if I would but stop and observe. We’re in such a hurry to succeed, we simply don’t stop to consider the whole story. Thank you Lord for these words, these legacies which remain to teach those who would listen.