Friday, July 6, 2018

Men of the Bible - Hezekiah


Hezekiah

His name means: "Yahweh Has Strengthened"

His work: He became coregent of Judah with his father, Ahaz, in 729 BC, six years before the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians. He reigned on his own for twenty-nine years, during which time he reopened the temple and restored Jerusalem as the center of worship, destroying the pagan altars and high places his father had built.
His character: Hezekiah is one of only four kings that the Bible compares favorably with King David, saying, "Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah…. He held fast to the LORD and did not cease to follow him; he kept the commands the LORD had given Moses. And the LORD was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook."
His sorrow: That Judah and Israel had fallen away from the Lord, worshiping the gods of the nations around them.
His triumph: Hezekiah reformed the religious practices of Judah and with the Lord's help withstood the Assyrian invaders.
Key Scriptures: 2 Kings 18-19; 2 Chronicles 28:19-25; 29:1-10

A Look at the Man

Hezekiah's character stands in sharp contrast to the character of the other two kings who appear in the story. His father, Ahaz, trusted not in the God of Israel, but in the gods of other nations, particularly Assyria, believing them to be the source of its great power. By currying favor with idols, he must have hoped to increase his own power. But the reverse happened, and Judah grew weaker, not stronger.

Sennacherib was like him, trusting the power of his empire and then attempting to undermine Judah's trust in God. Three times his spokesman advised the people, "Don't trust Hezekiah when he tells you your god will save you. It's a fantasy! Your god is no different than the gods of all the other nations, none of whom have been able to resist us." Then, to entice them further, he promised to take them to a land of ease, a place with olive trees and honey, admonishing them to "choose life and not death."

It's no accident that Sennacherib's words directly contradict the counsel of Moses just before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, a land filled with milk and honey. At the end of his ministry, Moses warned them: "This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).

By attempting to persuade the people of Judah that everything good in life comes from trusting in the power of human beings, Sennacherib urged them toward the path of least resistance. Fortunately for Judah, Hezekiah recognized the lie and continued to trust in the Lord, thus inviting God's help and assuring Judah's survival.

Though the details of our stories differ vastly from the story of this ancient king, the principles are identical. We are still assailed by voices assuring us that the good life consists of amassing wealth, accumulating personal power, achieving success, and forging the kind of relationships we desire. But to mistake earthly blessings for the life that only God can give is to place our future in jeopardy. The choice is ours to make—today, tomorrow, and the day after that. The joy we seek lies in loving the Lord our God, listening to his voice, and holding fast to him.

Reflect On: 2 Kings 19:15–28
Praise God: Because he is the Lord of heaven and earth.
Offer Thanks: That no human being can ever overrule his sovereign power.
Confess: Any unbelief that makes you doubt God’s willingness to exercise his power on your behalf.
Ask God: To give you a greater desire to live for his glory and his glory alone.

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media.
Hezekiah reigned on his own for twenty-nine years, during which time he reopened the temple and restored Jerusalem as the center of worship, destroying the pagan altars and high places his father had built.

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