August 25, 2023
“When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the Lord’s temple. Then he sent Eliakim, who was in charge of the palace...”
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“When King Hezekiah heard their report, he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the Lord’s temple. Then he sent Eliakim, who was in charge of the palace, Shebna the court secretary, and the leading priests, who were wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz. They said to him, ‘This is what Hezekiah says: Today is a day of distress, rebuke, and disgrace, for children have come to the point of birth, but there is no strength to deliver them. Perhaps YHWH your God will hear all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria sent to mock the living God, and will rebuke him for the words that YHWH your God has heard. Therefore, offer a prayer for the surviving remnant.’” 2 Kings 19:1-4 (HCSB)
Hezekiah was a man who was focused on reforming the spiritual integrity of God’s people. We must remember that the events we are reading about today happened in the era of Jewish history when the kingdom was divided. Ten Northern tribes of the Jewish Kingdom split off, refusing to worship in Jerusalem. In Scripture, they are referred to as “Israel .”The remaining two tribes, Judah & Benjamin (plus various individuals who left the other tribes to worship the Lord in Jerusalem), formed what is known as the Southern Kingdom, or “Judah .”Because the Northern Kingdom went straightway into idolatry, its decline was relatively swift. Assyria eventually conquered Israel and drove them from the Promised Land. Only Judah remained in the land, but there was a problem. Judah had also begun adopting paganism to their daily routine and worship. Notice Hezekiah’s efforts to ensure Judah did not follow the same judgment as Israel.
“He did what was right in the Lord’s sight just as his ancestor David had done. He removed the high places, shattered the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses made, for the Israelites burned incense to it up to that time. He called it Nehushtan. Hezekiah trusted in the Lord God of Israel; not one of the kings of Judah was like him, either before him or after him. He remained faithful to Yahweh and did not turn from following Him but kept the commands the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him, and wherever he went he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its borders, from watchtower to fortified city.” 2 Kings 18:3-8 (HCSB)
Even after all of Hezekiah’s efforts of reform, Assyria’s army was now poised to attack Jerusalem. How discouraging, after all that Hezekiah did to drive paganism from Judah, the pagan Assyrians might yet destroy them. Hezekiah’s response: seek the Lord through Isaiah the prophet. When our “faith tank” is empty, and we seem entirely out of zeal and strength, it is comforting to know that the zeal of the Lord never fails! It is His strength we must rely upon to deliver us and to fulfill His Word.
“For a remnant will go out from Jerusalem and survivors, from Mount Zion. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.” 2 Kings 19:31. (HCSB)