Hezekiah Character Bible Study Background and Lessons
Ancestry and family life: He was the thirteenth king of the Southern part of the divided kingdom. His father, Ahaz, was very wicked. 2 Kings 16:1-4. He even made his sons pass through the fire in a pagan idol worship ritual. He became king at the age of 25.
When and where he lived: He lived in Jerusalem and reigned over Judah during the time of the divided kingdom from 715-686 BC. The unified kingdom had split for about two hundred years already. Israel was completely apostate and rebellious to God in spite of the fact that God had sent them a number of prophets. Just after Hezekiah became king the regional super power Assyria launched an invasion on Israel. This was God’s judgment for their rebellion and refusal to repent. In his sixth year as king Assyria conquered Israel and took them away as exiles. That was the end of the Northern Kingdom. The people who lived there later were a mixed race and not pure blooded Israelites. Apparently some people from each tribe still lived in Judah so that God could preserve a remnant of each tribe.
Training and occupation: King. Just like Solomon, would have received best education on how to run a kingdom, science, economics, fighting, and religion.
Place in history: Hezekiah is known as one of the most righteous kings of Judah. He is also known for building the new water supply reservoir in the city? Also, he is known as the one who let the envoys from Babylon look at the whole treasury, which eventually led to them coming back to invade.
Lack of submission to God’s plan for him to die? 2 Kings 20:3-7 – Was he wrong to pray this? Why or why not? I have a hard time putting this in the weakness category mostly because we don’t know Hezekiah’s motivations for this prayer. Many argue that Hezekiah was wrong not to passively accept the death that God had pronounced and say that his continued life allowed Babylon to see the treasury, which eventually led to their invasion. But a couple things on the other side of the debate. Firstly, Hezekiah might have been upset because then Assyria would appear to win and God’s name would be dishonored or because his son was too young to rule. Secondly, there is nothing wrong with praying for physical needs or a longer life. We know he used his life to serve others and God faithfully so he would have used the extra years the same way. Thirdly, there is nothing wrong with asking God to consider our faithfulness to Him. David often prayed like this. We can see Hezekiah did not renounce his faith or turn away from the Lord in anger that his faithfulness would be repaid like this. My final conclusion is that without seeing his heart, and knowing what we do about his character, turning to the Lord in this time of difficulty and weeping at the coming fate of death is not wrong. How do you think you would react if faced with a proclamation you would die shortly? I would expect that most of us if we were faced with a declaration that we would die would also weep and I hope we would all turn to the Lord during that time instead of turning away. For more insight into Hezekiah’s mind during his sickness and after see Isaiah 38:9-20.
Showing all of his treasures to the Babylonian envoy. 2 Kings 20:12-21. – What might have been the motivation for Hezekiah to do this? This was more of a diplomatic mistake, though it may have come from pride, than a spiritual one. It is not a good idea to show your countries’ secrets to a a foreign nation that you barely know. Neither is it a good idea to show them how rich you are or they will be tempted to invade you to steal your riches. If the Babylonians thought that Judah was just an insignificant and poor area, they may not have attacked many years later. We should take note that later God’s stated reason for allowing them to be conquered by Babylon was the sins of Judah, especially Manassah. However, God used this mistake of Hezekiah’s to facilitate the eventual fall of Judah many years later. This is yet another example of God providentially using people and their mistakes to accomplish His plans.
Completely sold out to the Lord, 2 Kings 18:1-6, 2 Chronicles 29-30, See 2 Chr 31:21. – What wrong practices did Hezekiah stop? Why were those wrong? Deuteronomy 12:1-5, 13-14. What right practices did Hezekiah renew? Cleansed the temple. Renewed the sacrifices. Re-instituted the Passover. Re-instituted the Levitical donation so that they could focus on doing their job to the Lord and not making money. Hezekiah went further than any king of Judah before him, even good ones who followed God. He led a countrywide revival and attempted to completely wipe out all vestiges of the local cultic religions and worship centers. As the leader of the country, what kind of excuses might be made for not going all out against these pagan religions like he did? He showed no compromise. He didn’t worry about repercussions from the people. God had put him in charge and responsibility for the people fell on his shoulders. He used this authority wisely. Remember that we discussed it is not for the individual to go on an idol destroying spree because we don’t have this authority, but it is right and good for a leader to do it to attempt to influence the people to go in a better way. Hezekiah tried to restore Judah to a pure worship of God without all the pagan elements mixed in. What would you say to a critic who says Hezekiah was not allowing freedom of religion? See also that the Assyrian commander used this as evidence that Hezekiah WASN’T truly worshiping God and that God wouldn’t save them. This is how many would have viewed it. See also 2nd Chronicles 29-30, esp 30:19. Do you think it was right to overlook the normal rules of consecration in order to celebrate the Passover? Why or why not? Why were the in this predicament to begin with?
Hezekiah used his position and his authority to affect positive change for his people. – He didn’t care about being politically correct or following the social practices that had become normal at that time. He didn’t consider that he should just practice his belief privately. Do you think our belief should be practiced just privately or publicly? He used the position God had given him for good. He didn’t waste the opportunity. Sometimes even Christian leaders get into office and don’t do anything different because they don’t want to lose their support or they are afraid of the people. Hezekiah was not like this. He realized as king it wasn’t only his duty to protect and govern the people, but it was also his duty to try to lead them back to God. Obviously a leader can only do so much. He can never truly force someone to turn to God, but he can set a positive example and create a positive climate that encourages people to turn to the Lord and discourages disobedience. After that, it is up to each person to repent.
Turned immediately to God in time of trouble, 2 Kings 19:1-3, 14-19 – Hezekiah was in a serious situation here. His kingdom was far smaller and less powerful than the Assyrian super power. They had already destroyed the Northern Kingdom and were threatening Judah. From man’s standpoint, nothing would be able to stop them. It was a David Vs. Goliath fight or a China vs. Tibet. Not even close. Oddsmakers probably wouldn’t give Judah one chance in a thousand. When Hezekiah heard the threats, taunts, and scoffs from Rabshakeh he didn’t give up. He didn’t surrender. He didn’t give up hope. It is clear by his reaction he knew how serious their predicament was. But he also knew that God was greater and that God could save them. He put on the normal weeping attire showing his humble state and reliance upon God. He entered the house of the Lord where Solomon had pleaded with the Lord to listen to His people throughout all generations. And then he prayed.
His prayer was full of faith, God focused, humble, and gave glory to God where it belonged. 2 Kings 19:14-19 – What elements can you see in this prayer? What was Hezekiah’s view of God? Why did He want God to act? To defend His name and His honor. What was the difference Hezekiah noted between God and all idols? Whereas Rab thinks that all the gods are equal and all of them can do nothing to stop his own barrage, Hezekiah knows otherwise. He knew that these other so called gods were not gods at all, but were in fact idols made by human beings hands. As such, it was no surprise that they could do nothing to stop the Assyrian assault. Hezekiah knew God could stop it. This is what he prayed for. He cares about deliverance, but he also cares that God’s name is not dragged through the mud. In his mind, if Judah is destroyed then the world will agree with Rab that the LORD is no different from any other god and this is one major reason why he wants God to respond in a great way to bring honor to His own name. See also 19:34.
Lessons from his life:
We should not allow anything “good” to substitute for God, who is best. 2 Kings 18:4 – Was Hezekiah right to destroy this serpent? He destroyed an ancient relic dating back to the Exodus, a relic that could have been a continual reminder of God’s grace even during judgment. This likely caused many people to get angry. They may have asked why he was destroying an important part of Judah’s culture. After all, this would have been very valuable culturally and religiously. So why did Hezekiah destroy it? He destroyed it because it was replacing God. This is why God gave the command for them not to have any images of God, knowing that the image might become the object of worship. What kind of things that don’t seem bad or are even good might replace God today? Crucifixes, statues of Jesus (see Catholics), angels (discuss messages I have been listening to), church, nature. Worship God and God alone.
Nothing is impossible for God. 2 Kings 19:35-37. – The situation couldn’t look much bleaker for Judah. From a worldly standpoint it was practically hopeless. But to God, the Assyrians were nothing. One night. One angel. 185,000 casualties. We know from Revelation that there are myriads upon myriads of angels, or literally 10,000s upon 10,000s. Even 10,000 times 10,000 is one hundred million. If every angel even had half of the killing power of that angel, they could execute ten trillion people in one night. These are just God’s servants. God Himself could destroy the entire army and one nanosecond. The point is that God is all powerful. We don’t need to fear man because if God is for me who can be against me? No matter what obstacles you face, God is greater. He still can and does do miracles even today. Give two examples of angel stories from the sermons. God is still active in today’s world. Put your faith in Him and trust Him for deliverance.
God listens to our prayers and cares about us as individuals. Prayer does “work” 2 Kings 20:5-11. – There is a lot of debate about prayer and what it actually accomplishes. We know that it is a way for us to be humble, praise God, and confess. We know that we are ordered to pray. We also know that God is sovereign and has His plan. We also know that God listens to us and that prayer draws us close to Him. Many still wonder whether prayer actually changes anything. It is impossible for us to know if it does from God’s standpoint, but from ours it definitely does. We see that Hezekiah’s prayer for a longer life was answered. God had pronounced His plan for Hezekiah to die (maybe to test Hezekiah’s response or to show His glory by then healing him?), but after Hezekiah’s prayer He doesn’t allow him to die, but gives him 15 more years as well as showing him a miraculous sign that he would be healed.
It is never too late to repent and turn to God. By the time of Hezekiah, Judah had fallen into idolatry. Temple worship was stopped. The only worship of God that took place took place at the pagan high places. Hezekiah’s own father was extremely wicked and practiced all kinds of pagan religious rituals including passing through the fire. Israel was even worse. You can see their attitude when Hezekiah sent envoys to ask them to come to the Passover feast. Yet some people did truly repent, 2 Chronicles 30:11-12. The priests were a mess too. They could barely even put on the Passover feast because so many priests were not clean before the Lord. Hezekiah had to make some exceptions to the normal rules just because the people were so far into sin already. But God listened to his plea and God healed the people 30:20. A lot of times Christians will get themselves so deep into sin they don’t even know how to get out. Their situations are twisted and messed up so far there seems almost no way to even biblically deal with. If you counsel people many times you will find a lot of dilemmas that were created because of sin to begin with. The lesson we can learn here is that there is always hope. God is compassionate and abundant in mercy and grace. He wants to forgive us if we only turn to Him and repent from our hearts.