Summary: Faith in God is not immunity from troubles. God builds our trust in Him through the trials of life, not apart from them.
We read of the fall of the Northern Kingdom ISRAEL last week.
• When the North falls, King Hezekiah was reigning in the South. We are going to read in the next 3 chapters. Let’s read 2 Kings 18:1-8.
King Hezekiah is one of the two good kings in the history of Judah (S).
• The other is King Josiah, who comes on later, in 2 Kings 22-23.
• The author sums up his reign this way: 18:5-6 5Hezekiah 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. 6He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow Him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses.
Right from the start, Hezekiah sought the Lord and re-instated the worship of God.
• 2 Chron 29:3-5 3In the first month of the first year of his reign, he opened the doors of the temple of the LORD and repaired them. 4He brought in the priests and the Levites, assembled them in the square on the east side 5and said: “Listen to me, Levites! Consecrate yourselves now and consecrate the temple of the LORD, the God of your fathers. Remove all defilement from the sanctuary…”
• Chapters 29-31 tells of the wonderful things Hezekiah did in consecrating the Levites and priest and re-establishing the service of the Temple of God. He brought the nation back to the proper worship of God.
These were the initial years of his reign. 2 Chron 32:1 tells us: 1After all that Hezekiah had so faithfully done, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah. He laid siege to the fortified cities, thinking to conquer them for himself.
• Hezekiah subsequently encountered very difficult and trying times, which the author highlighted here too in 2 Kings 18.
Read 2 Kings 18:9-12. We have a rehash of the fall of Israel. It was the invasion of Assyria into the region.
• When Samaria fell, Hezekiah was only in his sixth year. Judah became Assyria next target. It was a very harsh environment that Hezekiah found himself in.
Did Hezekiah succumb to the pressure? Yes. Read 2 Kings 18:13-16.
• By his fourteen year, Assyria (under the new King Sennacherib) has conquered all the fortified cities of Judah and captured them.
• And with only Jerusalem left, Hezekiah succumbed to the pressure and decided to BUY his peace. Assyria was paid.
• He drained the temple and royal treasuries, even stripping gold from overlaid temple doors (cf. 18:15-16)
But did that end the threat? No. King Sennacherib returned and laid siege.
Read 2 Kings 18:17-37.
The field commander (Rabshakeh, Assyrian title) came to taunt Judah, with words of mockery and intimidation.
• Can Egypt or Pharaoh really help you? How to seek God when all the altars in the high places were torn down? Can you even find 2000 fighters to ride on the horses I offer you?
• His last line was audacious. Actually, “the Lord himself told me to march against this country and destroy it.” (18:25).
He was right that Hezekiah did attempt to seek Egypt for help. Egypt was likely the only nation then strong enough to counter Assyria.
• We know this was true because Isaiah spoke about it. We read in the book of Isaiah that the prophet has been warning Judah against trusting Egypt (cf. Isa 31).
• We just read of this same encounter in Isaiah 36 a few weeks back.
Hezekiah’s men asked the commander not to speak in Hebrew, in a language that the people could understand, lest they become very discouraged.
• The field commander went on to speak directly to the people, driving a wedge between them and their king.
• Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you (v.29); don’t let Hezekiah persuade you to trust God (v.30); don’t listen to Hezekiah (v.31); don’t listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you (v.32).
The only sensible option they have, as he suggested, was to surrender.
• Then they would not need to eat your own filth and drink your own urine (under a prolonged siege). They can eat from their own vine and fig tree, and drink water from their own cistern. So choose life and not death!
• And history is on his side. Look at the statistics. He names half a dozen of defeats. No god has been able to defend their lands against Assyria.
After all these discouraging words, the conclusion is clear - the situation is hopeless.
• Humanly speaking, Hezekiah stands no chance. All the arguments that the field commander presented made sense. Human sense, that is.
• God was not factored in. He was left out of the picture. Conveniently ignored, and God is the One that really matters.