By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/hezekiahs-pride-part-5-isaiah-devotional-journal-85/.
2 Chronicles 32 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Hezekiah-Part Nine: Hezekiah’s Pride
Not to Be Found in Isaiah
Hezekiah’s pride is not to be found in Isaiah. Readers must intuit his pride from context alone. We’ve been considering this king’s life for the past several posts. In Isaiah 39, it appears that King Hezekiah naively followed a prideful desire to boast over his wealth to a visitor from a far off land (Isaiah 39:2). Turns out, this man was the son of the king of Babylon. Babylon would one day rob the entire wealth of Jerusalem. They would also carry into captivity Hezekiah’s progeny. Babylon would make some of them eunuchs in the palace of its kings. Hezekiah responded to this prophecy from Isaiah with gratitude–gratitude that in his own day there would be peace and righteousness (Isaiah 39:8). Was this pride on Hezekiah’s part? Perhaps just plain selfishness? How can a reader be sure? Isaiah makes no comment. The book simply states the facts.
We’ve studied nearly everything the Bible reports concerning Hezekiah.
- His personal worship and leadership in spiritual revival of the nation (2 Chronicles 29-31; 2 Kings 18:3-6).
- The miraculous salvation of Jerusalem from the army of the Assyrians (2 Kings 18:13-19:37; 2 Chronicles 32:1-22; Isaiah 36-37).
- The supernatural sign God gave Hezekiah when he healed him from a mortal illness (2 Kings 20:1-11; 2 Chronicles 32:24; Isaiah 38).
Hezekiah was an amazing king, yet he wasn’t perfect. Nevertheless, by reading Isaiah alone, readers would be given no insights into the causes of what by our standards appears to be his poor behavior in chapter 39. Nor would the book of 2 Kings help explain his behavior and reactions concerning Babylon. In fact, 2 Kings 18:3-7a and 2 Kings 20:20-21 give him much approbation. Fortunately for biblical readers, however, 2 Chronicles 32 provides details that help fill in the backstory.
2 Chronicles Reveals the Backstory
I The People Loved Hezekiah
King Hezekiah had won the hearts of his people when he was still young. He cleansed the nation of its idols (2 Kings 18:3-4). He instituted a series of religious reforms (2 Chronicles 29:3-36) and caused Passover to be celebrated in a biblical way for the first time in generations (2 Chronicles 30:26). The people were so glad in this, that they extended the Passover for a second week beyond what Moses prescribed in the law (2 Chronicles 30:23). They also expressed their pleasure with their king by bringing the full quantity of tithes and offerings (2 Chronicles 31:6-9). Even further, the people voluntarily went out into the cities of Judah and cleansed them of the objects of idol worship (2 Chronicles 31:1).
So far, so good. Hezekiah responded to all this in a way that was “good and right before the Lord his God.”
2 Chronicles 31:20 And Hezekiah did so through all Judah, and did that which was good and right before the Lord his God. 21 And in every work which he began in service in the house of the Lord, and in the law, and in the ordinances, he sought his God with all his soul, and wrought, and prospered. (CAB, LXE)
II They Continue to Obey and Love Him
When Assyria showed up at the walls of Jerusalem with a huge army, the people continued to display their approval of their king, Hezekiah, in the way they obeyed him. They followed his instructions exactly (2 Kings 18:36; Isaiah 36:21). They remained quiet on the wall as Assyria’s king insulted their king, their nation, and their God. Such discipline could occur only because they liked and respected their king, Hezekiah.
III Military Preparations
Hezekiah was king throughout the siege and lockdown (1). He had stopped up the spring outside the walls (2 Chronicles 32:2-4). He had built a reservoir and aqueduct to bring water into the west side of the city of Jerusalem, away from the attacking army. This in itself was an amazing engineering feat (2 Kings 20:20). He built up all the old walls that had broken down, raised up towers for protection, and built another wall outside the first. He also repaired the fortress of the City of David and made many weapons (2 Chronicles 32:5). He organized his army into divisions and named captains over them (2 Chronicles 32:6). And, he encouraged his soldiers to trust and rely on the might of the “Lord our God,” who was on their side to fight with them (2 Chronicles 32:7-8). The people responded with their whole hearts to the words of their king.
…”with us is the Lord our God to save us, and to fight our battle.” And the people were encouraged at the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. (2 Chronicles 32:8, CAB, LXE).
III The Saving Miracle
After years of austere living under vicious threats, delivery came. The whole city had been cooped up in a massive lockdown with the Assyrian army just outside their walls (Isaiah 37:30). No one went out, and no one came in. Then suddenly, in a stunning miracle, God slew the entire Assyrian army overnight (2 Chronicles 31:20-22; Isaiah 37:36). In order to understand the magnitude of this military defeat, it’s important to remember that Assyria to this point had remained unchallenged. Israel to the north had fallen, as well as all the outlying cities of Judah. Assyria had overrun every country they went up against. Jerusalem was the one hold-out–a single city. And herein lay the difficulty–the enormity of this miraculous deliverance.
Waking up and finding an army of 185,000 miraculously dead overnight, the joy and excitement in Jerusalem must have been overwhelming. People would talk about this. They would tell their friends and relatives in other places. News would spread to the rest of Judah, into Israel, and into nations beyond. There would be a clamor of celebration as the years-long threat suddenly ended. And Hezekiah was king…
IV The Celebration
Chronicles sums up the defeat of Sennacherib, king of Assyria, in one sentence.
2 Chronicles 32:22 So the Lord delivered Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem out of the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria, and out of the hand of all his enemies, and gave them rest round about. (CAB, LXE)
And the whole land celebrated by sending gifts to Jerusalem and King Hezekiah.
2 Chronicles 32:23 And many brought gifts to the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah; and he was exalted in the eyes of all the nations after these things. (CAB, LXE)
Hezekiah reveled in the inflow of material goods that testified to the peoples’ adoration. But Chronicles records how he used this material thankfulness for his own benefit, rather than the benefit of the house of God.
2 Chronicles 32:27 And Hezekiah had wealth and very great glory. And he made for himself treasuries of gold, silver, and precious stones, also for spices and stores for arms, and for precious vessels; 28 and cities for the produce of grain, wine, and oil; and stalls and mangers for every kind of cattle, and folds for flocks; 29 and cities which he built for himself, and store of sheep and oxen in abundance, for the Lord gave him a very great store. (CAB, LXE)
V Victory Followed by Spiritual Failure
Celebration and rest, peace and safety…a period of relaxation after intense struggle and stress…how often this very thing leads to spiritual downfall. For the very next verses after the summary of victory over Assyria state this fact:
2 Chronicles 32: 24 In those days Hezekiah was sick even to death, and he prayed to the Lord. And He hearkened to him, and gave him a sign. 25 But Hezekiah did not recompense the Lord according to the favor shown him, but his heart was lifted up. And wrath came upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. (CAB, LXE)
Chronicles records Hezekiah’s illness along with its report of Hezekiah’s fame. The biblical account further indicts Hezekiah.
2 Chronicles 32:31 Notwithstanding, in regard to the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who were sent to him, to inquire of him concerning the wonders which came upon the land, the Lord left him, to test him, to know what was in his heart.
Was Hezekiah’s illness part of the wrath of God that came upon him as a result of his heart being lifted up? (verse 25 above). Perhaps. Hezekiah humbled himself in the face of his illness, “he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 32:26). Therefore, God postponed his wrath, so that it did not fall in Hezekiah’s lifetime. Overall, then, it would seem that Hezekiah fared well in his dealings with the Lord.
2 Chronicles 32:26 And Hezekiah humbled himself after the exaltation of his heart, he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and the wrath of the Lord did not come upon them in the days of Hezekiah. (CAB, LXE)
Would We Behave Differently?
It seems so easy to read Isaiah 39 in isolation and glibly condemn Hezekiah for what appears to be his hardness of heart. But, let’s be honest with ourselves, would we behave differently under similar circumstances?
Spiritual successes seem always accompanied by the temptation to spiritual pride. Hezekiah experienced enormous spiritual and practical success. God blessed him with two supernatural miracles (overnight defeat of the Assyrians and the shadow of the sun moving backwards). As a result of these, he received immense praise and adoration from his own people and their neighbors. In the end, his several successes in the area of faithful obedience to the Lord led him to succumb to pride.
Is Hezekiah so very different or worse than everyone else? Just think of all the biblical characters in the Old Testament. How many fell when tempted with spiritual pride? Then think of our modern day spiritual heroes and giants of the Christian faith. Have not many of these fallen? Satan’s great sin was pride. Moses struck the rock in his pride. David grew spiritually lax after his military victories. Solomon, to whom the Lord appeared twice (1 Kings 11:12), fell away and ended up worshipping pagan gods. King Saul grew prideful in his heart and turned away from the Lord. Satan in Luke 4 appealed to human pride when tempting God’s Son. But Jesus had none.
It is not for no reason that Jesus pronounces blessing upon the meek and lowly (Matthew 5:3, 4, 5). Humbleness before the Lord is one of the first requirements of spiritual blessing and success. It seems that various modes of pain keep the human heart humble. The Apostle Paul states this fact directly.
2 Corinthians 12:7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself! (NAU) (3)
A Warning for Us All
As stated previously, Scripture devotes eleven entire chapters, spread over three different books, to speak about King Hezekiah. Therefore, he must be important. At the very least, he provides great warning for Christians of all stations in life. The warning is to pay attention constantly and take heed to the movements of our own heart. Neither greatness nor smallness is sufficient protection against pride. And rather than shield us from pride, past spiritual successes work the opposite effect. They cause us to be susceptible to the temptation of the first and greatest sin. The great sin of pride is that it causes us to value ourselves more than we value God.
I would even go so far as to say that when we suffer as Christians, there is at least one thing for which we can thank God in the midst of our pain. We can thank him that the enduring the pain of our trial humbles us to the point that we cry out to him. Crying out to God is the antidote of a prideful heart.
Apology and Conclusion
These last posts of Isaiah concerning King Hezekiah have gone way over the limits of “short and concise.” This post is already exceptionally long. I apologize for that. My thoughts on Hezekiah were like a tough plant with deep roots that didn’t want to be pulled out. King Hezekiah has always been one of my favorite biblical characters. I’ve known him for many years in some of the most difficult seasons of my life. He has been an example to me in many ways.
This post is also the end of Volume One of Isaiah Devotional Journal. We’ve seen in these thirty-nine chapters that Israel the northern kingdom failed God’s purpose for them as his ambassadors to the world. Judah failed as well, as did all the nations under the sun. None of the nations represented God’s heart of integrity and love to their neighbors. They failed to live out fully and continuously God’s plan of obedience and blessing. Isaiah also pointed strongly towards Messiah, God’s own, special envoy, who will succeed in all God intends for him. Volume Two will point to Messiah even more strongly than these first thirty-nine chapters.
1 2 Kings 19 records two separate waves of assault by Assyria on Jerusalem, whereas 2 Chronicles compresses Assyria’s military activity into one account (2 Chronicles 32).
2 2 Chronicles 32:24 tells the entire story of Hezekiah’s miraculous healing with a single verse. For a complete account of this episode, see Isaiah 38 and 2 Kings 20:1-11.
3 Although the text’s double use of the phrase, “to keep me from exalting myself” may seem awkward and of poor style in English, Paul does indeed use the exact words twice in one sentence for emphasis.
By Christina M Wilson. Published previously at https://justonesmallvoice.com/hezekiahs-pride-part-4-isaiah-devotional-journal-84/.
Isaiah 38; 2 Chronicles 32:24 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Hezekiah-Part Nine: Whole-hearted Obedience
Scripture supplies a full picture of King Hezekiah’s spiritual testing. The concern of this portion of Isaiah is to explain how a godly man fell to pride. There are three areas of testing which Scripture fully develops in the reign of Hezekiah as king of Judah.
- duties in the realm of worship
- military leadership
- personal life
We have been examining Hezekiah’s spiritual successes and the concrete actions he took as a result of his whole-hearted obedience to the Lord. He did very well in the areas of personal and leadership worship (see Journal 82). He also did great in the area of military leadership (see Journal 83). Now we come to how the Lord tested him in his personal life, when he became mortally ill. (See Journal 79 for this material with an emphasis on Hezekiah’s prayer life.)
III Hezekiah in His Personal Life
By looking at Kings, Chronicles, and Isaiah together, readers can make a timeline of Hezekiah’s life. It appears that just about the time Assyria attacked and took the cities of Judah, Hezekiah became sick to the point of death. His illness occurred after his spiritual successes in the area of personal worship. He had also led a national spiritual revival. Then, Scripture writes that God allowed the enemy to attack.
After these things and these acts of faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came and invaded Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to win them for himself. (2Chronicles 32:1 ESV)
According to the text of Scripture and the construction of a timeline of his life, Hezekiah fell ill at this same time, more or less.
Isaiah 38:1And it came to pass at that time, that Hezekiah was sick, even to death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, came to him, and said to him, Thus says the Lord, Give orders concerning your house; for you shall die, and not live. (CAB, LXE) [“in those days”–ESV]
I personally think it likely that Hezekiah fell ill and recovered after Sennacherib’s general arrived at the city gate. It may have been during the three year period (Isaiah 37:30-31) after Isaiah prophesied Assyria’s defeat and the angel of the Lord miraculously slaughtered one hundred and eighty-five thousand of its soldiers (Isaiah 37:36). In any event, Hezekiah’s first response to his illness was to pray. Recall that he had also responded with prayer to the threat of Sennacherib (Journal 78). In all this, he did well.
Hezekiah Calls Upon the Lord
When Hezekiah became ill, he immediately turned to the Lord in prayer.
Isaiah 38:1 And it came to pass at that time, that Hezekiah was sick, even to death… 2 And Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, (Complete Apostles’ Bible, Brenton Septuagint)
“TURNED HIS FACE TO THE WALL”
What does this scriptural phrase mean, “Hezekiah turned his face to the wall”? It appears from the literature to have entered the English language from this very passage.
- Literally, ancient near eastern couches, or beds, were placed alongside the walls. The corner of any room was the place of honor. Most likely, the sick king turned onto his side to face the wall. By doing so, he hid his face from the center of the room and any guests or attendants who may have happened to be there.
- Having done this, he prayed. Therefore, the spiritual significance of turning his face to the wall would amount to entering his prayer closet. He achieved the maximum privacy available to him.
SCRIPTURE RECORDS THE KING’S PRAYER
Scripture records Hezekiah’s prayer in two separate places. The first, Isaiah 38:3, provides a simple, one sentence account of his actual words.
2 And Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed to the Lord, saying, 3 Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before You in truth, with a true heart, and have done that which was pleasing in Your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly. (CAB, LXE)
The second, Isaiah 38:9-20, combines a narrative recall with a fresh prayer of adoration directly praising the Lord. The Bible labels this passage as prayer.
9 The prayer of Hezekiah king of Judea, when he had been sick, and was recovered from his sickness:
The structure of Isaiah 38:10-20 is interesting. It divides into halves.
- In the first half (verses 10-15), the king narrates his traumatic experience from a vantage point after his healing. He sums up the content of his prior prayer and how he felt at the time about his impending death. He does this as though he were telling a listener about his illness after the fact.
- The second half (verses 16-20) of the passage, however, becomes a fresh prayer addressing the Lord directly. Hezekiah no longer recollects. Rather, he confesses the Lord, praises him, declares his intent to teach children about the righteousness of the Lord, and vows to bless the Lord with the psaltery (a stringed instrument) all the days of his life (Isaiah 38:16-20).
- Readers will discover no sin or pride in this portion recounting King Hezekiah’s personal life.
What Did Hezekiah Pray?
Hezekiah never asked the Lord to heal him (Isaiah 38:3; 2 Kings 20:2-3). Clearly, however, his emotions spoke the fact that he did not want to die.
13 In that day I was given up as to a lion until the morning; so has He broken all my bones; for I was so given up from day even to night. 14 As a swallow, so will I cry, and as a dove, so do I mourn; for my eyes have failed from looking to the height of heaven to the Lord, who has delivered me, 15 and removed the sorrow of my soul. (CAB, LXE)
The Lord Replies
God sent Isaiah his prophet to King Hezekiah to answer his prayers. His reply took two forms. First, he gave Hezekiah a sign. Second, he healed the king and added fifteen more years to his life.
The sign that God through Isaiah granted is nothing short of amazing and spectacular. The shadow of the setting sun went backward ten steps.
The king chose this sign because it would be difficult to perform. Joshua 10:12-14 records how Joshua through the Lord commanded the sun to stand still, and it did. Scripture does not say that God stopped the sun for Hezekiah. Nevertheless, the shadow of the setting sun moved backward. And then, of course, Hezekiah recovered his health. He lived and did not die.
HEZEKIAH’S HUMILITY AND HIS PRIDE
- Humility: So far, in the biblical narrative of the book of Isaiah, Hezekiah does not commit the sin of pride. As already mentioned, he responds to his healing by turning again to the Lord in prayer. He acknowledges God alone as the source of his healing (Isaiah 38:9-20).
- Nevertheless, Isaiah 39 reveals that something is amiss.
- The book of 2 Kings does not address the issue of King Hezekiah’s heart.
- Pride: However, this book also reveals an underlying core of rot. 2 Kings 20:16-19 and Isaiah 39:5-8 are basically identical. Both identify the king’s prideful heart before the prince of Babylon. They both also identify his selfish weakness as regards his progeny.
- How did this great change occur? Neither Kings nor Isaiah provide many clues. There is the third book, however, which does.
Fortunately, Scripture includes the book of 2 Chronicles to unfold its many details concerning the state of King Hezekiah’s heart. King Hezekiah truly was a good king. We’ve seen how God tested and proved him in the areas of worship (Journal 81 and Journal 82), military leadership (Journal 83), and his personal life (this post).
We will close up this section concerning Hezekiah, and with it Volume 1 of Isaiah, in the next post. There we will discover what 2 Chronicles reveals as the apparent source of King Hezekiah’s sinful pride.
To be continued…
By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/hezekiahs-pride-part-3-isaiah-devotional-journal-83/.
2 Chronicles 32 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Hezekiah-Part Eight: Whole-hearted Obedience
Scripture supplies a full picture of King Hezekiah’s spiritual testing. The theme of this portion of Isaiah concerning good King Hezekiah is to explain how a godly man fell to his pride. There are three areas which Scripture fully develops in the reign of Hezekiah as king of Judah.
- duties in the realm of worship
- military leadership
- personal life
The last post covered the topic of worship (Journal 82). Hezekiah faithfully performed the duties of King in the realm of worship. He organized the Levites and priests. He reinstated the Passover according to the law of Moses. Finally, he organized and oversaw the collection, storage, and distribution of tithes and offerings. He did all this faithfully with a whole heart. The result was a wonderful joy throughout the land.
This post will present Hezekiah’s whole-hearted faithfulness in the realm of military leadership.
II Hezekiah and Military Leadership
A Matter of Timing
King Hezekiah proved faithful to the Lord in the area of military leadership. The timing of the attack by the Assyrians claims our attention. Hezekiah had just proved his faithful devotion to God in the area of leading the nation in worship. He had performed many righteous deeds (Journal 82). Scripture attests to his great faithfulness.
2 Chronicles 31:20 Thus Hezekiah did throughout all Judah, and he did what was good and right before the Lord his God. 21 And in every task he undertook in the service of the house of God, he sought his God in the law and in the commandment with all his heart. so he prospered. (SAAS, LXE) (1)
Scripture then calls attention to the timing of the Lord with the very next verse.
2 Chronicles 32:1 After these things and this faithfulness, Sennacherib king of Assyria came to Judah and encamped against the fortified cities, thinking to capture them. (SAAS, LXE) (1)
We learn several lessons from this.
- The timing of the Lord is not always what we ourselves might desire.
- Righteous people will be tested.
- Spiritual attacks often follow spiritual successes.
Hezekiah first responded by consulting with his leaders and commanders (2 Chronicles 32:2-3). He belonged to a group of like-minded people he trusted. He did not say, “Only I can fix this.” He did not act alone. In this Hezekiah displayed a very wise humility. Together he and his counsellors arrived at a plan to “stop the water from the springs outside the city, and they helped him.” (SAAS)
Second, the king “gathered many people (verse 4).” These workers completed the plan to cut off the water supply of the king of Assyria.
Third, he “strengthened himself (verse 5).” In this strength he performed many building activities to fortify the city of Jerusalem. He also made many weapons.
Fourth, he organized military captains over the people. These he gathered to himself and he strengthened them. He encouraged them to trust in the faithfulness of the Lord.
2 Chronicles 32:7 Be strong and courageous, and fear not, neither be dismayed before the king of Assyria, and before all the nation that is with him: for there are more with us than with him. 8 With him are arms of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to save us, and to fight our battle. And the people were encouraged at the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. (CAB, LXE)
Success as a Leader
Hezekiah warrants respect as a great leader in an extremely stressful situation. The response of the people under his command indicates his level of success. They trusted in Hezekiah their king and in his God (2 Chronicles 32:9-19; Isaiah 36:21). Sennacherib, the Assyrian enemy, threw out insults to the people gathered on the wall above him. He taunted them with offensive words concerning their king and concerning God in whom they trusted. But, following Hezekiah’s orders, “they held their peace and answered him not a word, because of the king’s commandment not to answer him (Isaiah 36:21).” This amazing self-restraint reflects their confidence in and approval of their leader.
Preparation and Prayer
The king Hezekiah, his co-leaders, and the people had prepared the city well. In the last resort, however, Hezekiah prayed. The situation was dire. Israel to the north had fallen, the outlying regions and cities of Judah had fallen, and all the nations the Assyrians had invaded fell before them (2 Chronicles 32:13-14; Isaiah 36:18-20). What was the city of Jerusalem that it should withstand the might of the entire Assyrian empire and army? Hezekiah knew this, and he prayed.
Isaiah 37:1 And it came to pass, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, and put on sackcloth, and went up to the house of the Lord. 2 And he sent Eliakim the steward, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests clothed with sackcloth, to Isaiah the son of Amoz, the prophet… (CAB, LXE)
Scripture records one of Hezekiah’s prayers. Notice how the king trusts and depends upon the Lord alone.
Isaiah 37:16 O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, who sits upon the cherubim, You alone are the God of every kingdom of the world; You have made heaven and earth. 17 Incline Your ear, O Lord, hearken, O Lord; open Your eyes, O Lord, look, O Lord; and behold the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to reproach the living God. 18 For truly, Lord, the kings of the Assyrians have laid waste the whole world, and the countries thereof, 19 and have cast their idols into the fire; for they were not gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone; and they have cast them away. 20 But now, O Lord our God, deliver us from his hands, that every kingdom of the earth may know that You alone are God. (CAB, LXE)
Hezekiah Passed His Test
God answered Hezekiah’s prayer. With a great and astounding miracle, God alone turned back the Assyrian invaders from the lone city of Jerusalem.
Isaiah 37:35 I will protect this city to save it for My own sake, and for My servant David’s sake. 36 And the angel of the Lord went forth, and killed out of the camp of the Assyrians a hundred and eighty-five thousand; and they arose in the morning and found all these bodies dead. 37 And Sennacherib king of the Assyrians turned and departed, and dwelt in Nineveh. 38… his sons smote him with swords… and Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place. (CAB, LXE)
Hezekiah had passed his test. He demonstrated that he himself remained faithful to God under the life-threatening attack of the enemy. He further displayed great leadership skills, because the people followed his example of faith. In all this, the king remained humble in his heart. He bowed down before the Lord and trusted in him alone to save the beloved city, his kingdom.
Scripture has not yet finished the biography of good King Hezekiah. His testings have not yet ended. So far, God has proved the faithful character of Hezekiah’s heart in the areas of personal worship and leadership in battle. Next, God will test the king in the area of his personal health. Hezekiah becomes sick unto death.
To be continued…
1 “Scripture taken from the St. Athanasius Academy SeptuagintTM. Copyright © 2008 by St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
By Christina M Wilson. Published previously at https://justonesmallvoice.com/hezekiahs-pride-part-2-isaiah-devotional-journal-82/.
2 Chronicles 30-31 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Hezekiah-Part Eight: Whole-hearted Obedience
The theme of this portion of Isaiah concerning good King Hezekiah is to explain how a godly man fell to his pride. There are three areas which Scripture fully develops in the reign of Hezekiah as king of Judah.
- duties in the realm of worship
- military leadership
- personal life
I Hezekiah and Worship
We’ve seen in a prior post (Devotional Journal 81) how Hezekiah and the people of Judah determined to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. They did so according to the law Moses laid down in Scripture. The people had not held the feast this way for a long time. This presented obstacles to be overcome. For example, because they weren’t prepared, they held it in the second month, rather than first. This gave time for a sufficient number of priests consecrate themselves (2 Chronicles 30:3). Also, the people needed extra time to prepare for the journey. They hadn’t observed Passover for many generations. Preparations were no longer routine.
King Hezekiah of Judah also took the unusual step of inviting the hostile northern tribes of Israel to attend. Most of them “laughed them to scorn and mocked them” (2 Chronicles 30:10). Nevertheless, a few from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulon were “ashamed and came to Jerusalem” (verse 11).
A. Religious Law-Keeping–The Passover
The Bible in 2 Chronicles 30 reveals that everyone did the best they could under unusual circumstances.
- First, the people removed the altars to false gods and threw them in the river (2 Chronicles 30:14).
- Second, the Levites performed a larger role than usual. There were more sanctified Levites than priests (2 Chronicles 29:34). The Levites handed the blood to the priests, who then “splashed” it (2 Chronicles 30:16).
- Further, many of the congregation from Israel had not sanctified themselves. The Levites stepped in to slaughter the lambs for them (verse 17). King Hezekiah prayed that the Lord would forgive their transgression of eating the Passover lamb uncleansed (2 Chronicles 30:19).
And the children of Israel who were present in Jerusalem kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with great joy; and they continued to sing hymns to the Lord daily, and the priests and the Levites played on instruments to the Lord. (2 Chronicles 30:21, CAB, LXE)
Revival Breaks Out
If these events happened in our churches today, we would call it revival.
2 Chronicles 30:23 And the whole assembly agreed to keep the feast for another seven days, and so they kept it another seven days with great joy… 25 … the sojourners who came from the land of Israel, and those who dwelt in Judah. 26 So there was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there had been no feast like this in Jerusalem… 27 …And their prayer came up to His holy dwelling place in heaven. (SAAS, St Athanasius Academy Septuagint)
When the two weeks ended, “all Israel” went out into the cities of Judah and removed the elements of pagan worship.
- they broke the sacred pillars in pieces (these had been for worship of pagan deities)
- cut down the groves
- cast down the high places
- destroyed the altars
- the congregation from “all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh–until they utterly destroyed them all.” (2 Chronicles 31:1)
Then, “all the sons of Israel” returned to their own possessions and their own cities.
B. Religious Law-Keeping–Tithes and Offerings
Revival under the leadership of Hezekiah continued. Scripture chronicles how he organized the priests and Levites according to their divisions (2 Chronicles 31:2-21). Below is a list of some of the actions he and the people took at this time.
- he appointed the divisions (verses 2-4)
- he commanded a tithe from those who lived in Jerusalem (4)
- the people responded abundantly (5-8)
- heaps remained beyond the needs of the priests and Levites in Jerusalem (9-10)
- Hezekiah arranged for proper storage of the heaps (11-12)
- They distributed from the abundance of tithes and freewill offerings to all the priests and Levites throughout every city of Judah (19)
Scripture Summarizes Hezekiah’s Obedience in Keeping the Ordinances of Worship
Scripture summarizes all Hezekiah’s actions to this point. Two verses summarize everything he did from his coronation in 2 Chronicles 29 through his fidelity to obey the Lord by providing for the priests and Levites throughout the land in 2 Chronicles 31.
2 Chronicles 31:20 And Hezekiah did so through all Judah, and did that which was good and right before the Lord his God. 21 And in every work which he began in service in the house of the Lord, and in the law, and in the ordinances, he sought his God with all his soul, and wrought, and prospered. (CAB, LXE)
God Tests Hezekiah
2 Chronicles 32:1, in all translations, reveals a great deal concerning how God works among his own.
1 And after these things and this faithful dealing, Sennacherib king of the Assyrians came to Judah, and he encamped against the fortified cities, and intended to take them for himself. (CAB, LXE)
I believe that many Christians tend to read Scripture in the upper limits of the speed zone. That is, various daily and yearly Bible reading plans encourage people to basically “whizz” through Scripture. The goal is to read a certain amount in a certain period of time. I am all for reading the Bible in its entirety from time to time. A comprehensive familiarity with all of Scripture is beneficial and necessary. Listening to tapes of someone reading Scripture is a good way to accomplish this.
Additionally, Christians should form the habit of “camping out” on certain portions of Scripture for what may appear to be long periods of time.
Psalm 1:2 But his pleasure is in the law of the Lord; and in his law will he meditate day and night. (Brenton, LXE)
I believe that only with such meditation will the heart be receptive to hear what the Spirit teaches. In certain ways, resting on portions of Scripture long enough to prayerfully glean a harvest from them is like spiritual wrestling with God’s word. The Holy Spirit hovers close by, ready to reveal. But often, due to our own unfamiliarity with Scripture and the very ways of God, due to our lack of having trained our hearts to wait with patience for the Lord to speak, and due to our calloused ears in today’s busy world, we may need to devote many days, or even weeks, to one passage.
As mentioned in a prior post, Scripture devotes many chapters from several books to King Hezekiah. He was a great and devoted leader who followed the Lord and his Word with a whole heart. But in the end, he caved in to his own pride. Why did this happen? And surely, if such a man as Hezekiah fell this way, then any one of us might also succumb to pride. Right? To be forewarned is to be prepared.
And so, we should not brush off King Hezekiah’s pride as though he were a wicked man of wicked ways, nor as one who deserves our condemnation. What can we learn about God and about King Hezekiah that we can apply to ourselves?
More on Testing
Scripture packs a great deal of meaning into the first eight words of 2 Chronicles 32:1. “And after these things and this faithful dealing…” In other words, the holy Author of Scripture draws our attention to the fact that Hezekiah had faithfully performed all the duties and actions described in the previous three chapters. With all this joyful faithfulness and worship by Hezekiah and all the people as background, …then … this very bad thing happened. The enemy showed up, prepared to make war (verse 2). In other words, seasoned, faithful saints still need to fight battles. God wants us to know this.
Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1Peter 4:12 ESV)
Summary of Hezekiah and Worship
This post displayed the first area of King Hezekiah’s obedience to the Lord: worship. Scripture breaks this topic into two sections. The first is celebrating the Lord’s Passover as prescribed by law. The second concerns the giving, collection, and distribution of tithes and offerings. The next post will consider the second area of Hezekiah’s faithfulness: the realm of military leadership.
To be continued…
By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/hezekiahs-pride-part-1-isaiah-devotional-journal-81/.
Isaiah 39 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Hezekiah-Part Seven: Hezekiah’s Virtue
In general, pride tempts capable people. Pride is a danger for those who succeed in their plans. Spiritually, pride attacks those who demonstrate virtue and faithfulness to the Lord.
For example, the Holy Spirit, the very presence of God, descended upon Jesus as he came up from the waters of baptism. By this action, the Lord God anointed him for ministry. Immediately, the same Spirit led him into the wilderness, where Satan tempted him for forty days (Mark 1:9-13). Satan focused his temptation on causing Jesus to respond to him in a prideful way, to abandon his complete dependence upon the Lord his God and Father.
Jesus, being the Son of God, could have depended upon his own divine nature. But he didn’t. By submitting to the written Word of God in Scripture, Jesus withstood all attempts of Satan to cause him to respond in prideful ways.
As another example, Satan himself is an angelic being whose splendor originally was great, greater than all the other angels. His downfall occurred when he gave in to pride. Pride is one of the first and greatest of all sins. Pride leads people to depend upon themselves, rather than upon the Lord. It is important for Christians to understand the movements of pride, so that we can defend against it.
Scripture gives us much detail concerning King Hezekiah’s pride. But first, we must consider his virtue in order to understand why he succumbed to pride. As background for this and the following posts, it would be good to read through 2 Chronicles 29-31. I quote from the Septuagint below, but readers may feel free to choose their own preferred version of Scripture.
The book of Isaiah concludes its history of good King Hezekiah in chapter 39. The portrait this chapter paints of Hezekiah’s pride and callousness toward his own progeny is not beautiful. It seems a poor ending to a wonderful life.
Hezekiah had recovered from a near fatal illness (Journal 80, Isaiah 38). Having heard about this, the son of the king of Babylon went to visit him, bringing gifts. This pleased Hezekiah very much. The king took him on a thorough tour of all the many treasures in his house. Hezekiah was a man of great wealth and delighted to show off in this fashion.
Afterwards, God sent Isaiah to announce to Hezekiah Babylon’s future devastation of everything in his own house and all the treasures accumulated by his ancestors over many generations. They would even carry off some of his own sons and make them eunuchs in Babylon (castrate them). But Hezekiah rejoiced, because the prophecy would not be fulfilled in his own days. He himself would be spared. He would rather that his children would be the ones to suffer for his pride.
Isaiah 39:7 They shall also take of your children whom you shall beget; and they shall make them eunuchs in the house of the king of the Babylonians. 8 And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, The word of the Lord is good, which He has spoken; let there be peace and righteousness in my days. (Complete Apostles’ Bible, Brenton’s Septuagint)
This chapter speaks very poorly of Hezekiah, right? Yes, it does. Therefore, the question is, how could such a good man be so selfish?
Hezekiah’s Immediate Ancestors
Hezekiah was very good. Scripture speaks more highly of him than of nearly any other king. Hezekiah took the throne at age twenty-five. His father Ahaz was very wicked. He imitated the kings of Israel, making molded images of idols, ignoring the temple, and burning incense everywhere. He even “burned his children in the fire,” an abominable cultic practice of the native peoples of the land (2 Chronicles 28:3).
Hezekiah’s grandfather, Jotham, did what was right in the sight of the Lord. But he did not inspire his people. They remained corrupt (2 Chronicles 27:1-2).
Uzziah, Hezekiah’s great-grandfather, reigned fifty-two years. At first he did right, following the laws of the Lord. The Lord blessed his building projects and his preparations for war (2 Chronicles 26:6-15). Unfortunately, Scripture records that he became proud. “His heart was lifted up to his destruction; he transgressed against the Lord his God” (2 Chronicles 26:16).
Uzziah’s pride led him to enter the temple of the Lord to burn incense (Numbers 16:16-17, 35). God permitted only priests to do this (Exodus 30:7-9). God’s rules concerning incense were very strict (Leviticus 10:1-5). Uzziah’s arrogance as king in performing this abominable deed was so great that eighty-one priests of the Lord went in to resist him. When he became furious with them, the Lord struck him with leprosy. He lived in isolation the rest of his days (2 Chronicles 26:16-23).
Just How Good Was Good King Hezekiah?
Hezekiah did better than all these ancestors. Hezekiah began to reign at age twenty-five. His model king was David, not his immediate forbears.
And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. (2Chronicles 29:2 LXE)
HEZEKIAH PURIFIES THE TEMPLE
- It’s wonderful to read 2 Chronicles 29 through 31. Hezekiah was a king like no other. He worked pointedly, quickly, thoroughly, and generously to do all that the law commanded concerning the cleansing of the temple and bringing sacrifices there.
2 Chronicles 29:10 Therefore it is now in my heart to make a covenant, a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that He may turn away His fierce wrath from us. 11 And now be not wanting to your duty, for the Lord has chosen you to stand before Him to minister, and to be ministers and burners of incense to Him. (CAB, LXE)
- The apostate actions of the kings of prior generations had caused the hearts of nearly everyone to turn calloused, indifferent, and even scornful of the Lord and his ways. Hezekiah reversed this.
2 Chronicles 29:5 and said to them, Hear, you Levites: Now sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and cast out the impurity from the holy places. 6 For our fathers have revolted, and done that which was evil before the Lord our God, and have forsaken Him, and have turned away their face from the tabernacle of the Lord, and have turned their back. 7 And they have shut up the doors of the temple, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense, and have not offered whole burnt offerings in the holy place to the God of Israel. (CAB, LXE)
- Hezekiah inspired others to follow his lead.
And they purified the house of the Lord in eight days [!]… 18 And they went in to King Hezekiah, and said, We have purified all … which King Ahaz polluted in his reign, in his apostasy, we have prepared and purified; behold, they are before the altar of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 29:15-19)
THE PEOPLE WORSHIP THEIR TRUE GOD AGAIN
2 Chronicles 29:33 And the consecrated calves were six hundred, and the sheep three thousand. 34 But the priests were few, and could not slay the whole burnt offering, so their brethren the Levites helped them, until the work was finished, and until the priests had purified themselves… 35 And the whole burnt offering was abundant, with the fat of the complete peace offering, and the drink offerings of the whole burnt sacrifice. So the service was established in the house of the Lord. 36 And Hezekiah and all the people rejoiced, because God had prepared the people: for the thing was done suddenly. (CAB, LXE) (“…since the events took place so suddenly” SAAS)
The King Prepares the Passover
Hezekiah led the people with a strong hand. Unlike his grandfather Jotham (2 Chronicles 27:2), his personal dedication extended downward to others. He motivated them to follow his lead.
THE KING AND THE ASSEMBLY
Hezekiah was never a loner. People were happy to join his team.
2 Chronicles 30:2 For the king, and the princes, and all the congregation in Jerusalem, designed to keep the Passover in the second month. (CAB, LXE)
But preparing to celebrate the Passover began as an uphill battle.
3 For they could not keep it at that time, because a sufficient number of priests had not purified themselves, and the people were not gathered to Jerusalem. (CAB, LXE)
These events occurred just a short while before the Assyrians carried off Israel into captivity. The time was ripe for God to discipline Israel for their faithless apostasy (2 Kings 17:5, 18:13). Nevertheless, Hezekiah included the northern kingdom in his invitation to celebrate the Passover in Jerusalem. In doing so, he remained faithful to the decree given Solomon, while the kingdom was still united (2 Chronicles 12:13; Deuteronomy 12:5, 11; 1 Kings 8:29).
2 Chronicles 30:5 And they [see verse 2 above] established a decree that a proclamation should go through all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that they should come and keep the Passover to the Lord God of Israel at Jerusalem; for the multitude had not done it lately according to the Scripture.
Remember that Jeroboam had torn the ten tribes of Israel away from the united kingdom of David, Solomon, and initially Rehoboam, Solomon’s son (1 Kings 11:43). As Jeroboam’s first action as king of the northern ten tribes, he placed two golden calves (1 Kings 12:27-30). He put one calf in Bethel on the southern border. The other he placed in Dan, near the northern border at that time. He placed these specifically so that the people of Israel would not go to Jerusalem to worship there, as the Lord had decreed.
And here is King Hezekiah of Judah, sending out a proclamation to the hostile north to invite them to celebrate the Lord’s Passover in Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 30:6 And the posts went with the letters from the king and the princes to all Israel and Judah, according to the command of the king, saying, Children of Israel, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and bring back them that have escaped, even those that were left of the hand of the king of Assyria. 7 And be not as your fathers and your brethren, who revolted from the Lord God of their fathers, and He gave them up to desolation, as you see. 8 And now harden not your hearts, as your fathers did; give glory to the Lord God, and enter into His sanctuary, which He has sanctified forever, and serve the Lord your God, and He shall turn away His fierce anger from you. 9 For when you turn to the Lord, your brethren and your children shall be pitied before all that have carried them captives, and He will restore you to this land; for the Lord our God is merciful and gracious, and will not turn away His face from you, if we return to Him. (CAB, LXE)
ISRAEL’S RESPONSE TO THE INVITATION
How did the northern people of Israel respond?
and they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them. (2 Chronicles 30:10)
11 But the men of Asher, and some of Manasseh and of Zebulun, were ashamed, and came to Jerusalem and Judah.
THE LORD BLESSES THE FAITHFULNESS OF THE PEOPLE OF JUDAH
The actions of Hezekiah and all the people of Judah pleased the Lord. And he blessed them.
2 Chronicles 30:12 At the word of the Lord, the hand of God was on Judah to give them singleness of heart to obey the command of the king and the leaders.
Summary to This Point
1. I’ve gone into historical details more than usual in this post. Second Chronicles records a wonderfully rare coming together of all the people of Judah to faithfully worship the Lord. This happened completely because of one man’s leadership, good King Hezekiah. The story gets even better as Scripture progresses.
Hezekiah was young, still in his twenties, when all these events occurred. The reason I am building such a detailed background is so that we can see how easy it was for Hezekiah to give in to pride in his older years. His spiritual successes and leadership skills were enormous. Because in the end he gave in to pride, he provides a warning for all of us.
There is a popular verse that has been in circulation for a number of years. It has to do with beseeching the Lord in prayer. King Hezekiah is the very embodiment of this verse.
2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (ESV)
2. Hezekiah was a great leader who inspired people of many backgrounds to follow him. Levites, priests, the assembly of elders, the people as a whole, and even a few people from hostile Israel to the north all united to follow his lead in turning back to worship the Lord.
There is still more for us to see. But because this post is already long enough, I will continue in Post #82.
To be continued…
By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/hezekiah-worships-isaiah-devotional-journal-80/.
Isaiah 38 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Hezekiah-Part Six: Hezekiah Worships
III. Isaiah 38:9-20
Only Isaiah records King Hezekiah’s prayer when he recovered from his illness. In this prayer, Hezekiah worships the living God who saved him.
9 The prayer of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and had recovered from his sickness:
10 I said in the end of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave; I shall part with the remainder of my years.
11 I said, I shall no more see the salvation of God in the land of the living; I shall no more see the salvation of Israel on the earth; I shall no more see man.
12 My life has failed from among my kindred; I have parted with the remainder of my life; it has gone forth and departed from me, as one that has pitched a tent takes it down again; my breath was with me as a weaver’s web, when she that weaves draws near to cut off the thread.
13 In that day I was given up as to a lion until the morning; so has He broken all my bones; for I was so given up from day even to night.
14 As a swallow, so will I cry, and as a dove, so do I mourn; for my eyes have failed from looking to the height of heaven to the Lord, who has delivered me,
15 and removed the sorrow of my soul.
16 Yea, O Lord, for it was told You concerning this; and You have revived my breath; and I am comforted, and live.
17 For You have chosen my soul, that it should not perish; and You have cast all my sins behind me.
18 For they that are in the grave shall not praise You, neither shall the dead bless You, neither shall they that are in Hades hope for Your mercy.
19 The living shall bless You, as I also do; for from this day shall I beget children, who shall declare Your righteousness,
20 O God of my salvation; and I will not cease from blessing You with the psaltery all the days of my life before the house of God. (CAB, LXE) (1)
Today’s news media loves crises. They love to interview folk who have passed through a crisis and come close to being destroyed. They show up with microphone in hand and say, “Tell us about your experience.” Then the survivor tells their tale. Such is this portion of Isaiah. Scripture gives King Hezekiah space to tell his harrowing experience of how he survived a deadly illness. We read his story in his prayer to God after he recovered (verse 9 forward).
Isaiah 38 is not the only place in Scripture that records a prayer after a near death experience. The Psalter contains several such prayers. King David’s enemies hounded him to death. He didn’t die, however. He lived to sing praises to the Lord who saved him. We find songs celebrating deliverance from near death in Psalm 18:4-19, 57:3-4, 116:3-8, and 118:5, 10-29. As pointed out in other posts on this site, these worshipful prayer songs of David prophetically represent the heart cries and life events of the Lord Jesus Christ during his incarnation (See A Triplet of Psalms on this site).
PARALLELS TO THE LIFE OF CHRIST
How awesome would it be to have one’s life run parallel to that of the Lord Jesus Christ? Many saints both dead and alive encounter persecutions and grievous circumstances similar to those in the life of Christ. The New Testament declares that Christians will and should experience such parallels. Is it possible that this portion of King Hezekiah’s life experience prophetically looks ahead to the death and resurrection of Christ?
- “sick and recovered” (verse 9)–See Psalm 18:4-8; Psalm 116:3, 6; 118:17-18.
- a near death experience near the gates of Hades (verses 10 and 18)–Psalm 88:3; Psalm 6:4-5; 30:3; 94:17.
- cut off from family and from life (verses 11-12)–Psalm 102:3-11; 88:8, 18.
- “given as to a lion” (verse 13)–Psalm 22:13, 21; 57:4;
- “so has He broken all my bones” (verse 13)–Psalm 34:20; 6:1-5; 22:14; 31:10; 42:10. (Note: Christ’s bones were not broken.)
- eyes fail from looking upward–Psalm 69:3.
- delivered! (verse 14)–Psalm 18:1; 30:3; 56:13; 57:4; 86:13; 116:6, 8.
- the Lord did it (verses 14, 16, 17)–Psalm 116:6, 8; 18:4-17; 118:21-23; 22:24-31; 57:3-5.
- Praise the Lord! (verses 19-20)–Psalm 18:46-50; 22:22-25; 57:3-11; 116:16-19; 118:18-29.
There may be other parallels to the Psalms and to the life of Christ within this simple, heartfelt prayer of King Hezekiah.
THE SIGN OF TWO KINGS
When have any of us ever seen the sun move backward in the sky? Isaiah gave Hezekiah a sign that the shadow cast by the setting sun would move backward (2). The text does not say that the sun would move backward, but that the shadow of its setting would (2 Kings 20:8-11). Nevertheless, the sign indicates a miracle. The shadow of death over Hezekiah would be withdrawn.
God performed an even bigger miracle when he resurrected King Jesus from the grave. When God gave victory over death to his Son, he also turned back death’s shadow from the entire world. The sunshine of life shines again. Both the resurrection of Christ the King and the “resurrection” of King Hezekiah indicate life for every believer who identifies with the death and resurrection of Jesus, the King of kings.
When we face difficulties from which we may not survive, let us call upon the name of the Lord. Our God saves. He delivers from death. God’s deliverance is sure, fixed in the heavenlies, whether in this life or by means of our passing to the next. Either way, Christians do experience and will experience resurrection from death. This is the prophetic promise of Isaiah 38.
1 The Complete Apostles’ Bible (CAB). Translated by Sir Lancelot C.L. Brenton. Revised and Edited by Paul W. Esposito, and, The English Majority Text Version (EMTV) of the Holy Bible, New Testament. Copyright © 2002-2004 Paul W. Esposito. Available August 8, 2021, at Isaiah 38 – Complete Apostles’ Bible (bibliatodo.com).
2 Septuagint translations differ among themselves and from the Masoretic. The differences concern whether the shadow of the setting sun would move backward on the face of a sundial or backward upon the steps of a set of stairs in his father’s house. These differences don’t change the overall meaning of the text. Either way, the shadow cast by the setting sun moves backward.
By Christina M Wilson. Published previously at https://justonesmallvoice.com/hezekiah-prays-ctd-isaiah-devotional-journal-79/
Isaiah 38 Septuagint Modernized NETS
Hezekiah-Part Five: Hezekiah Prays c’t’d
III. Isaiah 38:1-22 (2 Kings 20:1-11; 2 Chronicles 32:24)
Three events in the life of Hezekiah dominate these chapters of Isaiah.
- Assyria threatens Jerusalem.
- Hezekiah becomes deathly ill.
- The Babylonians visit Hezekiah, who shows them all his treasures.
Establishing with certainty the chronological timeline of these three intertwined events is difficult. However, the lessons to be gleaned do not depend upon chronology.
About to Die, Hezekiah Prays
“In those days,” Hezekiah becomes sick unto death. The Lord sends Isaiah the prophet to tell Hezekiah that he is about to die (Isaiah 38:1). Hezekiah prays. He does his own praying. But Christian readers may take note of the large “elephant in the room” throughout these several chapters. Namely, King Hezekiah relates frequently with a prophet, Isaiah, who gives him detailed and exact messages from God.
Most of us don’t have prophets in our lives functioning as Isaiah did for Hezekiah. If someone says they do, well then, perhaps some of their kind friends might want to check that out carefully. But while most Christians don’t have a ministering prophet, all Christians have the Holy Spirit.
THE HOLY SPIRIT
Personal testimonies abound the world over of many varied ways in which God communicates directly to a believers’ conscious understanding. Some of these involve words impressed upon a believer’s mind. King Hezekiah did not have the ability to commune with God in the same manner as Isaiah. Nor did the king have the Holy Spirit living within him, as today’s believers do.
The sending of the Holy Spirit to rest and abide with every believer is one of the first actions of King Jesus upon his ascension to his heavenly throne. He prophesied his sending of the Spirit in advance.
John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. (ESV)
When the Holy Spirit was given, tongues of fire rested upon each believer severally.
Acts 2:1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. (ESV)
The Apostle Peter bore witness to this event.
Acts 2:33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. (ESV)
Finally, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews encourages believers to utilize the full benefits of Christ’s atoning blood by entering the presence of God. It is no longer necessary for prophets to intervene for us.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (ESV)
Hebrews 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (ESV)
WEEPING BEFORE THE LORD
Scripture tells us how Hezekiah prays, and so much like we ourselves would like to do from time to time.
Isaiah 38:2 Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, 3 and said, “Remember now, O Lord, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a true heart, and did what is pleasing in Your sight.” So Hezekiah wept loudly.” (SAAS, St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint)
But do we actually pray as King Hezekiah did? It seems to me that many times Christians are afraid to weep loudly before the Lord. Haven’t we been taught to “Rejoice always”? We may perhaps want to weep and complain, but are we afraid this would display doubt or lack of faithfulness? May the Holy Spirit guide each one of us in our prayers.
Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. (ESV)
God Hears Hezekiah
God hears Hezekiah’s prayer. Even though Hezekiah needs Isaiah to tell him words from God, God hears Hezekiah directly. And wonder of wonders, God heals Hezekiah and grants him fifteen more years of life (Isaiah 38:5). Many of us may know cancer victims for whom God granted healing and many more years of healthful living.
THE CAKE OF FIGS
It is noteworthy that God asks Hezekiah to perform a physical action as a demonstration of his faith.
Isaiah 20:7 Then Isaiah said, “Let them take a cake of figs and rest it on the boil, and he will recover.” (SAAS)
Did the figs heal Hezekiah? Or, did God heal Hezekiah upon his obedience of faith? (See 2 Kings 5:1-14 concerning Namaan the leper. Recall also how Jesus commands the man born blind to do such and such in order to effect his healing, John 9:7.)
A PHYSICAL SIGN
Not only does God give Hezekiah the miracle of healing, he gives him a physical miracle as well.
2 Kings 20:8 And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, What is the sign that the Lord will heal me, and I shall go up to the house of the Lord on the third day? 9 And Isaiah said, This is the sign from the Lord, that the Lord will perform the word which He has spoken, the shadow of the dial shall advance ten degrees; or if it should go back ten degrees this would also be the sign. 10 And Hezekiah said, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees; but let the shadow return ten degrees backward on the dial. 11 And Isaiah the prophet cried to the Lord, and the shadow returned back ten degrees on the dial.
Opinions may vary on the wisdom of asking God for a sign. Does asking for a sign display doubt, or faith? However one may feel about asking for signs today, signs are not uncommon in the Old Testament nor in the New (Genesis 9:12-17; Exodus 31:13; Judges 6:17, 36-40; Luke 2:12; Matthew 2:2; 12:39-40; 24:3, 30; 26:48; John 2:18-19; Revelation 1:1; and many more).
Hezekiah displays his faith by asking for a difficult sign. A difficult sign serves him well, because when Isaiah prays and the Lord performs the impossible (the shadow on the sundial moving backward), it gives Hezekiah certainty. I personally was desperate enough once to ask for a difficult sign, and when God granted this, the boost to my morale strengthened my faith to overcome my difficulties. Nevertheless, however useful a sign may prove to be, a Christian’s faith rests upon Christ, according to the Scriptures, and not upon signs.
GOD LOVES HEZEKIAH
Readers of Isaiah know that God loves Hezekiah.
- First, God devotes four entire chapters in the book of Isaiah to Hezekiah. Plus, he gives three chapters in 2 Kings to Hezekiah, as well as four chapters in 2 Chronicles to this same man.
- Second, God hears Hezekiah and answers his prayers. God answers Hezekiah’s personal prayers and his prayers for the deliverance of Jerusalem.
The Bible testifies of Hezekiah that he “did what was good and right before the Lord his God. And in every task he undertook in the service of the house of God, he sought his God in the law and in the commandment with all his heart” (2 Chronicles 31:20-21).
But was Hezekiah a “super saint”? Scripture reveals Hezekiah to be an emotional man with deep character flaws. He flings himself down, cries aloud, spreads his burdens before the Lord, weeps like a baby, becomes prideful in heart, and displays great selfishness with regard to others (Isaiah 39). I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I see strong resemblances (though I am female) between myself and this man. I relate to Hezekiah because of his earnestness toward the Lord and in the ridiculous, foolish ways of his heart.
HERE’S THE POINT
Because God loves Hezekiah, he loves those who are like him. That means, God loves me, and God loves you.
Be blessed as you travel down this path of faithfulness to the Lord.
…To be continued: Hezekiah’s Prayer of Worship and Thanksgiving
By Christina M Wilson. Previously published at https://justonesmallvoice.com/king-hezekiah-prays-isaiah-devotional-journal-78/
Isaiah 37 Septuagint Modernized NETS
King Hezekiah-Part Four: Hezekiah Prays
The prophet Isaiah records three prayers of Hezekiah to God Almighty. In response to each of these, God answers with direct speech and action. Notably, God speaks his words not to Hezekiah but to the prophet Isaiah. The first two interactions concern the imminent siege and attack by the Assyrian army against Jerusalem. The third concerns Hezekiah’s mortal illness. In the first instance, Scripture does not record that Hezekiah prays. Rather, he asks the prophet Isaiah to pray. In the second and third instances, Scripture records the words that Hezekiah prays himself.
HEZEKIAH’S THREE RESPONSES
When the Rabshakeh came threatening annihilation to Jerusalem, Hezekiah responded in three ways.
- He tore his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth. These are outward signs of inner grief, mourning, humility, and repentance. More modern equivalents might be wearing black to a funeral, physically dropping to one’s knees to pray, and bowing the head in prayer.
- Hezekiah also “went up into” (NETS and Brenton) the house of the Lord. Only the Greek Septuagint includes two separate words for “went up” and “into.” Both are important. The Masoretic Hebrew writes “into” alone. Hezekiah did not move laterally to his own home or to the home of his friends. Nor did he go down to some other location. Rather, he made the effort to go up to where God is. He entered into the presence of the Lord. Spiritually speaking, supplicants must acknowledge the Lord, approach him, and enter into his presence in order to initiate speech with him.
- Finally, Hezekiah sent emissaries to Isaiah the prophet with exact words to tell him. It is not wrong to ask friends to pray for us. There are many fine reasons why a believer might want others to join them in prayer. If the Lord wills for us to be alone with him, he has power to make third parties unavailable. Hezekiah gave these words to Isaiah.
3 Today is a day of affliction, and reproach, and rebuke, and anger; for the pangs have come upon the travailing woman, but she has not the strength to bring forth. 4 May the Lord your God hear the words of Rabshakeh, which the king of the Assyrians has sent, to reproach the living God, even to reproach with the words which the Lord your God has heard; therefore you shall pray to your Lord for these that are left. (CAB, LXE)
Hezekiah’s prayer expresses two main thoughts. First, he appeals to the “living” God’s own honor, and second, he desires the preservation of the remnant, “these that are left.”
Just as a first responder giving immediate first aid, the living Lord’s first response was, “Do not be afraid,” (verse 6). The enemy’s goal, as represented by the Rabshakeh, is to blind and confuse believers to make them give up in fear. The Lord’s goal is to comfort, “Do not be afraid…I will” do such and such (verse 7). He shifts the fearful person’s attention away from themselves and the situation and onto himself, his power, and his goodness. In this instance, Isaiah told Hezekiah that the Lord would take care of it all. He himself need not lift a finger.
II. Isaiah 37:8-38
Hezekiah prays a second time. This prayer is strikingly different from the first. No longer does the king tell Isaiah how to pray for them, but he himself prays directly. His prayer focuses on faith statements of God’s attributes and power. He sees the Assyrians minimized in comparison with God Almighty. He asks specifically for God to save them from the Assyrians so that “every kingdom of the earth may know that you alone are God,” (verse 20, NETS). In other words, his expressed concern is for the testimony and glory of God alone.
The king does one other thing that bears attention. Because God was already at work against the Assyrians, Rabshakeh did not speak in person this second time at Jerusalem’s wall. Rather, messengers sent from the Assyrian king had given Hezekiah a scroll (or scrolls). The NET translation expresses well the impact of Isaiah 37:14.
Hezekiah took the letter from the messengers and read it. Then Hezekiah went up to the LORD’s temple and spread it out before the LORD.
This verse presents a graphic image of the meaning of prayer (Isaiah 37:14). All the problems are reported in one place. Hezekiah takes these and spreads them out, possibly as he kneels upon the floor. As he opens them up before the Lord, he turns them over to him. By doing so, he asks God to carry the burden for him. Hezekiah also speaks out loud his faith and trust in God, his Lord.
Scripture records no message from Hezekiah to Isaiah. Yet, Isaiah spoke God’s reply. This time, God’s first words confirm Hezekiah’s expressed faith. “I heard what you prayed to me,” (verse 21). I grant your request. This is what I’m going to do. And here is a sign, so that you will know I will do what I say.
God gives two reasons for his positive reply to Hezekiah’s prayer for help.
- First, he protects Jerusalem for his own sake. Jerusalem is where God’s temple resides. God protects his own glory.
- Second, he protects the city for “My servant David’s sake.” God had promised David that Messiah would come from his loins (2 Samuel 7:12-16; 2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 22:16).
Verses 36-38 record the fulfillment of God’s promise to Hezekiah through Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 37:36-38). It happened just as he said it would.
…Hezekiah’s third prayer to be continued
By Christina M Wilson. Originally published at King Hezekiah-Highlights: Isaiah Devotional Journal 77 – justonesmallvoice.com.
Isaiah 36-37 Septuagint Modernized NETS
King Hezekiah-Part Two: Highlights
When reading the four Isaiah chapters concerning King Hezekiah, certain highlights, or themes, shine through.
- Hezekiah’s trust in God
- his vibrant prayer life
- his successful leadership of those under his authority
- God’s testing of him
- his pride
- his selfishness
- the fact that godly character is not inheritable
The crux of King Hezekiah’s history in the context of Israel’s history, however, is not Hezekiah’s character, but the character of God.
Will God Come Through for Jerusalem?
“Rabshakeh” is the title given the emissary/military general who represented the King of Assyria (36:2). The threat was real–very close, very imminent, right at Jerusalem’s front door.
Rabshakeh lied. He bluffed. His purpose in Isaiah 36 was to talk his way into victory. He pressed all the psychological buttons he could think of. His purpose was to get the people to forsake their king (Isaiah 36:14) and give up without a fight (Isaiah 36:16-17). He promised them peaceful prosperity until the day when he would take them away to the happy, happy land of captivity.
Rabshakeh exemplifies the tactics of our spiritual enemy, Satan. Satan attacks our faith in God by subtly twisting his character and lying to us about him. His goal is to make us fearful of possibilities and potential outcomes that have not yet occurred. He paints a very dour picture of the present and future, tempting us to give up without a fight.
These were the tactics of Rabshekah. His main argument was that Hezekiah’s God was no different than all the other “gods” whom Assyria had vanquished. Hezekiah realized that indeed these other “gods” were false idols, blocks of wood and stone (Isaiah 37:18-19). They failed the countries which clung to them. But Hezekiah knew that his God lived, had power, and would save them. And, in the end, God did. He came through for Jerusalem at this time, because of Hezekiah’s strong faith in him.