2 KINGS 18 and 19
Hezekiah is the person in the Bible who really should have had a book named after him! If you want to find out whether a Christian has even the faintest grasp of their Bible, then ask them to turn to Hezekiah Chapter 5 verse 10. Instead, we are in 2 Kings 18 and 19 today.
Born of a terrible father, King Ahaz, and born during the reign of the last king of Northern Israel, the pagan King Hoshea, Hezekiah might have been excused for making a complete mess of his own life. But he never blamed his upbringing, he never settled for missing God’s best plans for his life by burying himself in self-pity; he resolved to be as good a king as it was possible to be – and as faithful a servant of the Lord as any human could be. He is a great example of the grace and sovereignty of the Lord in choosing a young man and shaping him into a great king, full of faith and completely submitted and obedient. We underestimate the sovereignty of the Lord most of the time; we place too much emphasis on our faith – as though it were something that we were able to generate or ‘work up’ – and ignore the operation of the Holy Spirit in ‘birthing’ faith into our hearts at times of his choosing. (See Ephesians 2:8 and Acts 18:27b.)
The first 8 verses of 2 Kings 18 summarises what Hezekiah did during his 29-year reign. “He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.” What an accolade! Notice how his ‘father’ was described as King David, not Kind Ahaz. This was because he followed the ways of David, rather than Ahaz and was forced to reject his natural father’s example in life. A challenge to fathers today: are we still the best example or ‘model’ for our sons and daughters? Do they still feel provoked to emulate our faith, our obedience to the Lord, our power in the Holy Spirit, our acts of loving kindness, and our vision? Or have they been forced to move on, to move out, and to move beyond our tired manifestation of the Christian faith, to someone whose lead they can follow!
The bronze snake that Moses had made (Numbers 21:8-9) was now being worshipped as an idol by the people of Judah. This object was called ‘Nehushtan’ which, translated, means ‘bronze snake’ (simple, really!). It is so easy to take something that God has originally made for good, and to turn it into something that is a barrier between us and God. For us, this could mean people, aids to worship, the Bible itself, faith, church meetings, cancelling church meetings, prayer rooms, wonderful works of art and literature, or retirement. Just don’t let them get in the way of your actual relationship with the Lord.
The most telling commendation of Hezekiah is in verses 5-7: “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. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook”. The same kind of thing was said of Josiah too, but perhaps the emphasis was on Hezekiah’s unique trust in the Lord, rather than in his observance of the Mosaic Law. The take-home message is that holding fast to the Lord in trust makes you successful in all that you do.