Summary: Some scholars have said that Hezekiah started out good and then went bad. I think that’s a short sighted description of a man who was not that much different than we are.
OPEN: A man spoke of one of the most challenging courses he’d had at his college as being a business law class in which the professor gave difficult true/false tests. "During one of the more exasperating exams, I noticed another student flipping a coin. The professor approached him. ’Son are you guessing on this test?’ he asked.
’No sir,’ replied the student. ’I’m just checking my answers.’"
APPLY: When I was in college it was a fact of life that you’d be given tests. There were essay tests, true and false tests, fill in the blank tests… and I got to the point where I knew which teachers would give what kind of tests – and I’d study accordingly.
The purpose of tests was to find out how much I (and others in class) had learned. But, for the most part, they were never fun. They were just part of college life.
Now, here we have the story of Hezekiah.
II Chronicles 32:32 tells us God put him to the test… but the closer I looked at his life, the more I realized that this was only one of many tests God had Hezekiah take.
We often get the impression that when we belong to God, the road will be smooth. Kind of like getting in our car and driving down a superhighway with no obstacles in sight. But in reality, life with God is often more like the roads we encounter around here… road work, detours, and delays that drive us to distraction. That’s because God tests us. He challenges our faith on occasion. In the same way, Hezekiah’s faith was constantly being tested and challenged.
In Deuteronomy 13 the Israelites were instructed to watch any prophet or “dreamer of dreams” very closely to make sure that such individuals would not try to lead them astray with heretical teachings. Then it says the oddest thing: “you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deuteronomy 13:3
God tests His people because He loves us… and He tested Hezekiah for the same reason.
I. Now, to begin with, it’s important that we realize what kind of man Hezekiah was.
Hezekiah was an impressive leader. He was the kind of man that every leader in this church should seek to model himself after.
2 Kings 18:3 tells us “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father David had done.” And 2 Kings 18:5 tells us “Hezekiah 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.”
That was no small accomplishment on his part… because Hezekiah’s father Ahaz was perhaps one of the wickedest men that ever ruled Judah. II Chronicles 28:22-25 told of how King Ahaz stripped the Temple of it’s furnishings, and closed it down. Then he had altars built on every street corner in Jerusalem and on all the high places in the country. Verse 3 of the chapter tells us that he even sacrificed his sons to pagan gods.
Since his dad was inclined to sacrifice his sons to pagan idols, it’s a wonder Hezekiah survived to reign to begin with. But once his father had died and Hezekiah took the throne… he began to clean house.
For 16 days, under his directive, the Temple was cleansed and refurbished. The pagan altars and pillars were torn down and one of the relics of Israel’s past – the snake on the pole that Moses had been ordered to build – was destroyed because it had become an object of worship.
Hezekiah was indeed a righteous man, unlike many others who ruled in those days.
Why did Hezekiah do all this?
Two great influences probably shaped his life.
1. His mother (the daughter of a Levitical priest) who probably introduced him to the most influential men in his life:
So, let’s get it clear from the beginning: Hezekiah was a Godly and admirable man. Considering the nature of the text we read this morning, you might get a different impression… but never forget, this was a man who loved God and whom God loved deeply in return.
II. Now, let’s take a look at the events that shaped Hezekiah’s reign.
No sooner do we read about his monumental cleansing of Judah’s pagan influences than a great terror begins to overshadow the nation. Sennacharib, the King of the Assyrians comes to pay a visit, and he’s not there for a social call. He’s come to take Jerusalem by force.
This was Hezekiah’s first great test. Hezekiah rebelled against the Assyrians and refused to serve them… but it wasn’t for several years that Assyria decided to punish Judah for it’s audacity.