Friday, September 13, 2019

Politics or Faithfulness?

"Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD” (2 Kings 20:16).

As Assyria marched throughout the ancient Near East, conquering one little country after another, Ahaz king of Judah sought to spare his country by making an alliance with Assyria. He sent gold and silver from God’s temple as a gift to Assyria. His political strategy worked, and later when Assyria destroyed northern Israel, the southern kingdom was spared.

However, Ahaz’s actions violated God’s ways. He should have trusted solely in the Lord for Judah’s defense. Instead, he subjected himself and his nation to the idolatry of Assyria, and when his son Hezekiah came to the throne, Judah was a vassal of Assyria. Hezekiah’s first action as king was to restore the temple and eliminate the idolatrous worship introduced by Ahaz. He held a great Passover and invited the remnant in the northern kingdom to come to it. Many moved to Judah, and thus were spared when Assyria destroyed northern Israel in Hezekiah’s sixth year.

In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign, the Philistine city of Ashdod formed an alliance to try and shake off the yoke of Assyria. Isaiah the prophet warned Hezekiah to have no part in it (Isaiah 20). He told Hezekiah that when God was ready, He would deliver Judah. Hezekiah listened to Isaiah (2 Kings 18:13–16). At this time, people in Judah were willing to hearken to the prophets because they had just seen the destruction of the north, which the prophets had predicted.

Later in his reign, however, Hezekiah came under the sway of the political aristocracy in Judah. Learning that Babylon was growing strong, Hezekiah formed an alliance with Babylon and other nations in preparation for shaking off the Assyrian yoke. Isaiah criticized him severely for this, but Hezekiah only paid slight attention (2 Kings 20). Like Saul, David, Solomon, Jeroboam, and Joash, Hezekiah fell into sin and almost lost the kingdom.

Toward the end of Hezekiah’s reign, Assyria went on the march again to put down the new revolt. The Assyrians laid waste to most of Judah, and besieged Jerusalem. Hezekiah turned to the Lord in repentance, and the city was spared (2 Kings 18:17–19:27).

Like David, Hezekiah sinned and exposed the nation to destruction, but also like David he repented and God heard his prayer. We have a King now who will never fall, even though we often do. Let us learn from the stories of the kings what we are to do when God chastises us for our sins.