Summary: This lesson is a contrast between a good king (Hezekiah) and an evil king (Manasseh) who ruled Israel. It should be noted that even the evil king was blessed upon his repentance.
1. Colonial Attitudes toward God and Kings
a. In 1774, a report went to the King of England from the Governor of Massachusetts in Boston which read, "If you ask an American who is his Master, he will tell you he has none, or any governor but Jesus Christ."
b. Prewar Colonial Committee of Correspondence made this American motto: "No King but Jesus."
c. When Ethan Allen captured Ft. Ticonderoga, the commanding officer asked him by what authority he had done this. His reply: "In the name of the great Jehovah, and the Continental Congress!"
d. George Washington was offered the Kingship of America after the American Revolution but declined because of his biblical understanding of God (we assume);
e. First attempt at the Great Seal of America -- "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God!"
f. In the United States, the sovereign authority is religious...there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America, and there can be no greater proof of its utility and of its conformity to human nature than that its influence is powerfully felt over the most enlightened and free nation of the earth. Alexis de Tocqueville
2. God's people in the Bible should have paid attention to this principle
a. The Nation of Israel divided into two parts -- Israel in the North and Judah in the South
b. ALL of the 19 kings of North Israel were evil and refused to hear the 9 prophets God sent them
c. Of the 38 Kings of Judah, 5 were "good" and 33 were "evil"
3. Assyria took North Israel into Captivity
a. They had been warned -- 2 Kings 17.13
13 Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, "Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets."
b. The 10 northern tribes were removed -- 2 Kings 17.18
Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight; none was left but the tribe of Judah only.
4. Consider the contrasts in Judah
I. The Principle of Righteousness
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Proverbs 14.34
A. Righteousness is Crucial
"I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors...; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and in her matchless Constitution. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power." Alexis de Tocqueville
1. Righteousness is reflected in our Trust in God -- Proverbs 3.5-6
a. Implies sovereignty
b. "In God we Trust"?
c. Exalts - "Raises to Honor"
2. Righteousness is Reflected on Imitating God
a. Righteousness--is translated as people living by just and godly principles that produce just and godly actions.
b. God has done what he directs us to do
c. We are made righteous through Yeshua (Jesus) -- (2 Corinthians 5.21)
B. Sinfulness is Catastrophic
1. Sin is rebellion to God
2. Sins find us out (Numbers 32.23)
3. Sin Shames us
4. Sin Separates us from God (Romans 6.23)
II. A Pattern of Righteousness and Rebellion
A. Hezekiah Trusted God (2 Kings 18.3)
1. In spite of (Because of) his heritage
a. Father, Ahaz -- wicked King
b. Sacrificed his children in the fire -- 2 Kings 16.2-3
2. In the Face of Assyrian challenges -- 2 Chronicles 32:14-15
14 Who among all the gods of those nations which my fathers utterly destroyed was able to deliver his people from my hand, that your God should be able to deliver you from my hand?15 Now therefore do not let Hezekiah deceive you or mislead you in this fashion, and do not believe him, for no god of any nation or kingdom has been able to deliver his people from my hand or from the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you out of my hand!'"
I once read about the movie artistry of Alfred Hitchcock. Commenting on how he succeeded in creating suspense in his movies, he explained how he spent a great of time helping his audience to understand the power of the villain in his story... and the amount of danger the hero was in. It wasn't enough to simply startle his viewers. They needed to be emotionally involved in what was at stake. That's what God is doing here. He's setting the stage, both for Hezekiah... and for us. He wants us to understand, in no uncertain terms, that Jerusalem doesn't stand a chance against such a powerful foe.