Hezekiah, King of Judah

King Hezekiah was More Zealous for the Lord than Kings Before Him, but His Rein Ended in Selfishness

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Hezekiah began his 29-year reign at age 25. He was zealous for the Lord, more than any of his predecessors. He immediately opened the temple which Ahaz had seriously damaged, and thoroughly cleansed it. King Hezekiah re-instated Levites and priests to minister in the temple and assist with the clean-up. Because of their diligence, the temple was ready for service within 16 days.

Hezekiah restored the use of musical instruments and singing in their worship services. When Hezekiah presented the opportunity for people to bring sacrificial animals to show their thankfulness, thousands were brought, so many that the priests required the help of the Levites. All of these events were cause for great rejoicing in Jerusalem.

Hezekiah invited all of Israel and Judah to Jerusalem to keep the Passover, which had not been properly observed in many years. Hezekiah's messengers read the letters of invitation all around Israel and Judah: “Children of Israel, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel -- serve the Lord your God, for the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him.”

The messengers ran from city to city, but some laughed and ridiculed them. Still, many people humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. Although many in attendance had not properly prepared themselves, Hezekiah prayed, “May the good Lord provide atonement for everyone who prepares his heart to seek God, the Lord God of his fathers, though he is not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.” The Lord answered Hezekiah's prayer. Everyone present kept the feast with great jo, and the priests taught the Word of the Lord. It was so successful that it was extended another week, and Hezekiah provided thousands of animals for offerings.

There had been no celebration like this in Jerusalem since the days of Solomon. As people traveled back to their homes, they broke down and cut down idolatrous images and altars at various high places, renewing their commitment to the one true God. Because Hezekiah put God first in everything he did, God prospered him.

Seven years later, Assyria's king came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. Hezekiah, in a panic, agreed to pay him to back off. Sennacherib assessed Hezekiah a huge sum, which Hezekiah paid from out of the treasures in the temple and the king's house. Then the king of Assyria sent selected men to threaten and intimidate the king and the people of Jerusalem, speaking against God and Hezekiah. “No god of any nation or kingdom was able to deliver his people from my hand or the hand of my fathers. How much less will your God deliver you from my hand?”

When Hezekiah was told all the words which were spoken, he went into the temple and had messengers go to Isaiah to inform him of Assyria's threats. Isaiah's response was encouraging. “Do not be afraid of the words which you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed Me. Surely I will send a spirit upon him, and he shall hear a rumor and return to his own land and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land.” The angel of the Lord in one night killed 185,000 soldiers in the camp of the Assyrians. Sennacherib went home to Nineveh. Soon after, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god, Nisroch, his two sons entered the temple and murdered him.

Hezekiah became very sick. Isaiah told him to prepare his household and get ready to die. But Hezekiah prayed, beseeching God to be merciful and remember all the good he had done. Before Isaiah left the king's house, God told Isaiah to tell Hezekiah that his prayer had been heard and his life would be extended 15 years. Hezekiah was healed.

But soon after his healing, the king of Babylon's son sent messengers with a gift to Hezekiah, for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick. Foolishly, Hezekiah showed the messengers all of his treasures, all the silver and gold, and everything in his arsenal. There was nothing Hezekiah did not show them. Isaiah came to Hezekiah, and asked about the men, where they were from and what they had said, and what Hezekiah had shown them. Hezekiah confessed that he had shown them everything. Isaiah then prophesied that all he had shown the men from Babylon would someday be taken to Babylon, along with Hezekiah's own descendents. Hezekiah selfishly responded in a way that suggested that he didn't care, as long as he didn't live to see it. “Will there not be peace and truth at least in my days?”

During the years following his recovery, Hezekiah fathered the heir to Judah's throne, Manasseh, who would turn out to be the most evil king ever to reign in Jerusalem. (2 Kings 18-20; 2 Chronicles 29-32; Isaiah 36-39)

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Written by: Pete Miller