2 Kings 18-19: A Righteous Man
June 22, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
At last! A good king! Praise God for leaders who fear God. What a relief! What joy for those over whom such a leader has authority—authority he uses to bless, not revile, and for which he knows he is accountable to the living God. Hezekiah rules with righteousness, as none of the kings of Judah either before or after did (18:5). He even removes the high places, those popular strongholds of pagan worship (18:4).
Note what he did: he trusted in the LORD (18:5); he held fast to the LORD (18:6); he kept the commandments of the LORD (18:6). He trusted, he persevered, he obeyed. Trust; persevere; obey. Not a bad trifecta of a watchword for a leader.
Note also what happened as a result of this faithfulness: the LORD was with him; wherever he went out he prospered (18:7). It is certainly true that suffering comes to the righteous as well (see the story of Job if you doubt that), but all other things being equal, we are more likely to prosper, even in this fallen world, if we play the game by the Master’s rules. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus.”
But now there is a threat. Sennacherib, of the Assyrian superpower, comes up against Judah (18:13). What will Hezekiah do? The messengers of the foreign king give their demands in Hebrew, ensuring (they hope) that dissension will spread among the ranks of the king’s subjects (18:28-35). But he has commanded them not to reply, and they obey (18:36)—following their king’s example as he obeys God.
This is serious. They are no match militarily for Assyria. And so, godly to the end, Hezekiah sends for the prophet (19:2). When at your wit’s end, when you have nothing else, make sure that you reach for the Bible. Crack it open, read it, ask that God would speak, and obey. Hezekiah sends for the prophet. When your heart breaks, seek for healing in the balm of God’s Word.
Isaiah replies that God will rescue Hezekiah (19:6-7). But, when Sennacherib, in a foreign land, hears of this rumor that Isaiah prophesied, instead of immediately leaving, he doubles down and ups the ante and issues another threat (19:7-13). Oftentimes when our spiritual enemy is about to lose, that is when he puts on his most fearsome face. Too many spiritual victories have been lost because we gave up too soon. True to the narrator’s description, though, Hezekiah perseveres.
In fact, he prays (19:14-19). “Incline your ear, open your eyes…save us…that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone” (19:16, 19). Here is a good lesson not only to pray, but also how to pray. Ask God to hear. He is a hearing God, but beg him, humbly as his servant, that he heed your request. Ask him to save. And do it for the ultimate purpose of his own glory. Hezekiah does not pray that his kingdom would look good; he does not just pray that he and his people would be saved. What he prays for is that God would be seen to be the one true God. This is the ardent prayer that stirs heaven. Then is the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Isaiah once more prophesies Sennacherib’s fall (19:20-34). And indeed the angel of the LORD strikes down 185,000 that night (19:35). Was it a plague? Or supernatural? At any rate, it was certainly God’s doing. “When people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies” (19:35). Sennacherib returns, and with his defeat sullying his reputation, he falls easy prey to the next ambitious man in line for his throne—his own sons kill him (19:36-37).
A righteous man may fall seven times but he gets up again (Prov. 24:16).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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