The dark days surrounding King Hezekiah’s reign make his godly life all the more brilliant.
Hezekiah’s own father had promoted idolatry throughout the land of Judah (the Southern Kingdom)… and had made Judah a subservient kingdom to the wicked Assyrian Empire (2Ki. 16). When Hezekiah took the throne of Judah at the age of 25, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was only a few years away from being sent into exile for their wickedness (2Ki. 18:9,10). These were truly dark days.
But Hezekiah determined to follow the Lord with all his heart, and God empowered him to do great things for His people even in the midst of the evil forces that were still at work.
“No more excuses; the time has come for change.” That was King Hezekiah’s resolution to stamp out idolatry from Judah. He boldly cleaned house! Hezekiah removed idolatry from the land, including all the pagan items from the temple (2Ki. 18). Even the bronze snake Moses had made in the desert was not spared; it had eventually diverted people from worshiping God. He restored proper worship at the temple; the doors nailed shut by his father were opened, and the temple was cleaned. The Passover was re-instituted as a national holiday; the king sent invitations to everyone throughout the land – even people living in the Northern Kingdom of Israel – to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover once again (2Chron. 29,30).
This task of reform must have seemed overwhelming to Hezekiah. Few would have blamed him if he had deferred this call for reform to another king in another time. Yet, he acted boldly… knowing God was entrusting him with this responsibility.
We might sometimes feel powerless to the sin that takes place around us; crime, prejudice, hunger, homelessness, etc. We might feel tempted to shirk our responsibility and “let someone else do it”.
We need Hezekiah’s resolve if we are to make a difference… if we want the “kingdom” we pray for to become a reality.
What idols need to be torn down? Look for ways you can breathe the living God into a dying world.
* Look to God for the courage to resist sin.
Hezekiah did make a difference… but he did little to ensure these reforms would last. His foolish display of wealth to a Babylonian delegation made Judah a likely target of aggression. When the prophet Isaiah criticized Hezekiah for his lack of prudence, the king was merely relieved that any evil consequences would be delayed until after he died. The lives of 3 kings who followed after him were VERY affected by Hezekiah’s accomplishments… and his weaknesses.
Not long after the N.Kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians, the Assyrians attacked Jerusalem, too. But God struck down 185,000 of their soldiers in a single night, and Jerusalem was spared (2Ki. 19:35,36).
The past affects our decisions and actions today, and these, in turn, affect our future. There are lessons to learn. There are errors to avoid repeating.
Today, reflect on a past shortcoming… and consider how the lessons you’ve learned will benefit today… and tomorrow.
* Lean on God’s wisdom to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
(By the way… as part of his preparations for the Assyrian attack on Jerusalem, Hezekiah constructed a water tunnel to carry water from the Gihon Spring to the pool at the lower end of the city [2Ki. 20:20]. That tunnel still exists today, and – in 1838 – an ancient inscription was found in it that noted its construction under Hezekiah.)
You can read Hezekiah’s story in 2Kings 16-20; 2Chronicles 28-32; Isaiah 36-39.