2 KINGS 18
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Beloved Brethren and Sisters in Christ Jesus, in the first reading this morning we begin the history of King Hezekiah. He was one of the three great kings of Israel-David, Hezekiah, and Josiah. His outstanding characteristic was trust in God, as we see from verses 5-6 of this 18th chapter.

"He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses."

His one recorded failure, when his heart was lifted up and he showed his treasures to the Babylonian ambassadors, was a result not of too little faith, nor actually of too much, but of presumption upon that faith-familiarity.

Because of great privileges and promises and prominence in God's purpose, we remember that Paul had to have a thorn in the flesh to humble and to handicap him, lest he should be overmuch lifted up. Hezekiah, we find, had great power and great blessing and great favour with God for his zeal and his faithfulness. The flesh being what it is, he was carried away.

There is a tremendous lesson here. We are never safe. We must always be prayerfully on our guard against the deceptiveness of the flesh, for the more progress we make in the Truth, the more we are liable to this lifting up like Hezekiah, and there must be a humbling.

The chronology of this period of the kings of Judah and Israel is quite difficult to harmonize-both within the Scripture itself and with the Assyrian record of the times. Much is made in the world of the accuracy of the Assyrian record-the so-called eponyms, or lists of years and events, tied in with the eclipses and so on. And also of the archeological inscriptions that have been found concerning these times and these events.

But as soon as we actually look into these eponyms, we find scholars vary greatly in interpreting them. They are nowhere near the clear and continuous chronological record they are made out to be. And they are far from dependable. As for the inscriptions that have been found, the Assyrians were notoriously liars and boasters, apart from the general errors of the flesh. So, we are far safer in following the Scriptural picture and accommodating the history of man to it, rather than the other way around.

This record beginning in 2nd Kings 18-20 about Hezekiah is clearly not all in chronological order, nor intended to be. Chapters 18 and 19 are a continuous record, except that some items are mentioned in them that refer back or forward in general summaries, like the summary in verses 2-8 of the whole reign of Hezekiah, which is given at the beginning, and the death of Sennacherib in 19:37 which was actually twenty years later than these events.

Also, it is not clear where time gaps occur. There does appear to be a gap, apparently of 12 years, between verses 16 and 17 of this chapter, between two separate Assyrian invasions.

Chronology itself is not too important, except to the extent that it helps us to get clear the relationship of events to each other, and the period in a man's life and development when he does certain things, as in what period of Hezekiah's life his heart was lifted up, and what relation this had to the deliverance from the Assyrians.

His sickness and his presumption are recorded at the end in both Chronicles and in Isaiah. But clearly they are not meant to be at the end chronologically by the dates that are given in connection with them. *



1 Now it came to pass in the 3rd year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel [Ben Elah Melech Yisroel], that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah [ Chizkiyah Ben Achaz Melech Yehudah] began to reign.

The history of Hezekiah fills eleven chapters of Scripture-quite a lot in relation to the other kings. They are 2nd Kings 18-20, 2nd Chronicles 29-32-almost exclusively about his religious reforms-and Isaiah 36-39.

The history of Hezekiah fills eleven chapters of Scripture-quite a lot in relation to the other kings. They are 2nd Kings 18-20, 2nd Chronicles 29-32-almost exclusively about his religious reforms-and Isaiah 36-39.

Putting all these together, this seems to be the most likely order of events: First, the great reformation and Passover and clearing of the land of all idols and the re-establishment of the true worship of Yahweh in his first year.

Second, the siege and fall of Samaria-the northern kingdom-and the carrying away captive of the ten tribes in his fourth through sixth years; it was a three-year siege.

Third, the first invasion of Judah by the Assyrians in Hezekiah's 14th year. Hezekiah at this time stripped the gold and treasures from the temple and buys off the Assyrians for a period. The Assyrians claim that they took away at this time 200,000 people as captives. The Assyrian account of the ransom corresponds generally to the Scriptural account.

The fourth in order, following this first invasion and their buying off, was Hezekiah's sickness and recovery, still in the same year as this invasion-the 14th year of his reign. Both are dated in the Scriptures to that year. At this time 15 years were added to his life. The next item-the embassy from Babylon and Hezekiah's presumption, very soon after his sickness, and as a result of it and the events connected with it.

And finally, another Assyrian invasion twelve years later in Hezekiah's 26th year. At this time, Hezekiah resists, and the Assyrian host is destroyed, and Jerusalem is delivered. Judah is given a 105-year new lease on life to 608BC, when Necho of Egypt deposes Jehoahaz after the death of Josiah, the last good king, and sets up a puppet Jehoiakim, and Judah's independence ends forever (the kingdom of Judah).

Hezekiah's supreme act of faith-defying the vast army of Assyria, when it was right in his land and at his gate, seems clearly to have occurred near the end of his life, long after his sickness and his lifting up of his heart. This fits best both with the Bible record and with the Assyrian record.

...It should be noted all the way through that Isaiah, although not mentioned until near the end of Hezekiah's reign in connection with the resisting of the Assyrians, was actually very prominent and active all the way through, not only in Hezekiah's reign but in the three reigns preceding him. Isaiah's own book records his dealings with Hezekiah's father-the wicked Ahaz, to whom he made the great prophecy of the virgin bearing the Son and his name being Emanuel-God with us.

Isaiah was clearly a major factor in Hezekiah's faith and zeal and reforms. Also, the prophet Micah is prophesying at this time, as well as Hosea in the northern kingdom. Jeremiah records in chapter 26 that Hezekiah and the men of Judah hearkened to Micah, when he warned them that because of the land's wickedness Zion would be plowed as a field. *



2 He was 25 years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned 29 years [shanah] in [Yerushalayim]. His mother's name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah [Shem immo also was Avi Bat Zecharyah].

3 And he did that which was right [yashar] in the sight of Yahweh, according to all that David his father [Dovid Aviv] did.

This is not said of any other. *


4 He removed the high places, and brake the images [smashed the matzevot], and cut down the groves [Asherah], and brake in pieces the brasen serpent [nachash nechoshet] that Moses [Moshe] had made: for unto those days the children of Israel [yamim the Bnei Yisroel] did burn incense [ketoret] to it: and he called it [Nechushtan].

This was a system of local worship and sacrifice-long tolerated but never approved and usually becoming centers of idolatry and corruption. He broke down all the images in the land. And he even broke up the brazen serpent, which Moses had made, because it had become an object of idolatry.

Verse 4 records briefly what is given in great detail in 2nd Chronicles 29-31. *



7 And Yahweh was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria [Melech Ashur], and served him not.

This rebelling against Assyria, when he came to the throne, he found it a tributary, because of his father's subservience. This appears to be his course and his purpose throughout.

The first time the Assyrian king came to punish him for his rebellion, he submitted and paid an enormous tribute. We do not know the reason that he gave in upon this occasion, whether his faith failed or whether the people or his leading men would not support him in his resistance. It seems clear throughout and from the writings of Micah and Isaiah that all the initiative for faith and resistance depended upon Hezekiah himself, and that there was very little depth of faith in the generality of the people around him.

On the occasion of this first invasion in his 14th year, Shebna seems to have been the chief officer under the king, as we see in Isaiah 22, and he was not a good or faithful man. He was probably a leftover from the previous administration. Isaiah condemns him and says that he will be replaced by Eliakim, who was a faithful man and a type of Christ. This is the chapter in which we read of the key of the house of David and so on.

Chapter 22 of Isaiah is generally applied to this time, and we note of two things in it. It refers to the preparations that Hezekiah made for the siege; this is, what he did with the water courses, which pins it down at the time. And also it refers to the condition of the people, which was very unsatisfactory in God's sight. So we can clearly get a picture of this first invasion and the difficulties that he faced and the kind of men that he had in control. *

Bro Growcott



10 And at the end of 3 years they took it: even in the 6th year of Hezekiah, that is the 9th year of Hoshea king of Israel [Melech Yisroel], Samaria was taken [Shomron was captured].

11 And the king of Assyria [Melech Ashur] did carry away Israel unto Assyria [Yisroel into Golus in Assyria], and put them in Halah and in Habor [Chalach and in Chavor] by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes:

12 Because they obeyed not the voice of Yahweh their Elohim, but transgressed His covenant [Brit], and all that Moses the servant [Moshe Eved] of Yahweh commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them.

They had, as a whole, scorned God's last plea to them through Hezekiah. We could say that it was providential on God's part that they be given this last opportunity. Hezekiah took very great pains to send the message throughout the whole northern kingdom.

In the natural course of things, Judah would have suffered the same fate at the same time. But, it is clear that Hezekiah's efforts and reforms and mediation for the nation deferred the wrath of God, which had already very strongly begun to be manifested among them. *