Chosing Your Own Path
In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah
began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in
Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. He
did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.
2 Kings 18:1-3 (also 2 Chronicles 29:1-2)
Remember the old saying ‘Like father, like son’? In the case of King Hezekiah it couldn’t be more wrong.
Hezekiah’s father was Ahaz, a really terrible king whose reign saw Judah on the brink of ruin and Israel destroyed. Hezekiah might well have followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming yet another in the long line of kings who failed in their duty to the nation and to
But he didn’t. Despite having a wicked father who disregarded God’s rule and God’s ways, Hezekiah became the first king since King Asa of whom it is said that ‘he did what was
right in the eyes of the Lord.’.
Perhaps Abijah, Hezekiah’s mother was a moderating influence on him. Perhaps he had little to do with his father, or perhaps he grew up thinking ‘I never want to be like that!”
Whatever the reason, Hezekiah is his own person, more than the product of his genes and his parents, his upbringing.
Some of us have had good parents who helped us understand more about who God is and did their best to be good role models for us. But some of us have had fathers or mothers who, for various reasons, have not been a good example to us and who did not
give us the best start in life.
With God we always have a choice about the people we will become. Hezekiah chose to look not to his earthly father but his heavenly one.
Thank you God that you are our perfect parent - a Father that will never let us down and a Mother that gathers us under your wing. Thank you that whatever start we had in life we
always have new chances and new choices with you. Please help us to live as Hezekiah did, doing right in the eyes of the Lord. Amen.
Hezekiah removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah
poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the
Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)
Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the
kings of Judah, either before him or after him. He held fast to the Lord and did not stop
following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with
him; he was successful in whatever he undertook. He rebelled against the king of Assyria
and did not serve him. From watchtower to fortified city, he defeated the Philistines, as far
as Gaza and its territory.
2 Kings 18:4-8 (also 2 Chronicles 29:3-11)
After Ahaz’s wicked reign, there was a lot of work to do, and Hezekiah got straight to it.
Pagan altars, idols, and temples were destroyed. The bronze serpent that Moses had
made in the desert was also destroyed, because the people had made it an idol. The
temple in Jerusalem (whose doors Hezekiah’s own father had shut) was cleaned out and
reopened. The Levitical priesthood was re-established and the Passover was reinstated as
a national holiday. Under Hezekiah’s reforms, revival came to Judah.
Hezekiah’s story reminds us of the importance of clearing out of our lives anything that
competes with our commitment to God and our love for him. He was ruthless about
destroying every idol - even things that didn’t start as idols but gradually became objects or
worship. He put God first in everything he did, and God prospered him. His unswerving
trust and faithfulness receive great praise ‘and the Lord was with him; he was successful in
whatever he undertook.’
Forgive us Lord, when we allow other things to become more important to us than you are.
Please show us what are the idols in our lives and help us to get rid of them, just as
Hezekiah did. Help us to put you first in everything we do. Amen
The Greater Power
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of
Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With
him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our
battles.” And the people gained confidence from what Hezekiah the king of Judah said.
2 Chronicles 32:7-8
In 701 BC Hezekiah and all of Judah faced a crisis. The Assyrians, the dominant world
power at the time, invaded Judah and marched against Jerusalem. The Assyrians had
already conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and many other nations, and now they
threatened Judah. In their threats against the city of Jerusalem the Assyrians openly
defied the God of Judah, likening him to the powerless gods of the nations they had
conquered (2 Kings 18 & 19 / 2 Chronicles 32).
2 Chronicles 32 explains how Hezekiah went about organising the defence. As he
appoints ‘combat commanders’ he speaks encouragingly to them, reminding them that the
Lord is on their side and that ultimately it is God who fights their battles. Listening to his
words the people were filled with confidence.
‘There is a greater power with us.....’ Who doesn’t need to be reminded of this?! Many of
us face daily battles and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But God is with us and we need not
be dismayed, fearful or discouraged. And like Hezekiah, those of us who know this power
in our own lives need to tell others the good news - that the Lord our God is with them to
help them and to fight their battles. We should always be pointing others to him, the God
who gives us strength and courage.
We praise you God, that you are our help and our strength.
We need fear nothing because you are with us. Please help us to remember this always,
and to remind others when they feel threatened or overwhelmed by life’s battles. Amen
Honesty Is The Best Policy
And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: “Lord, the God of Israel, enthroned between the
cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven
and earth. Give ear, Lord, and hear; open your eyes, Lord, and see; listen to the words
Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God.
“It is true, Lord, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. They
have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only
wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. Now, Lord our God, deliver us from his hand,
so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, Lord, are God.”
2 Kings 19:15-19
Faced with the Assyrian threat, Hezekiah sent word to the prophet Isaiah. The Lord,
through Isaiah, reassured the king that Assyria would never enter Jerusalem. Rather, the
invaders would be sent home, and the city of Jerusalem would be spared. In the temple,
Hezekiah prays a beautiful prayer for help, asking God to vindicate himself: “Now, Lord our
God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you
alone, Lord, are God.” God, faithful as always, kept his promise to protect Jerusalem.
Hezekiah knew it wasn’t enough to encourage his army with a great pep-talk. He needed
to pray, to pour out his heart to God and beg for mercy and help. His prayer is a beautiful
example of real honesty before God: he acknowledges the threat the Assyrians pose - he
is not naive, complacent or unrealistic. But he knows where real help lies - with the maker
of heaven and earth. He - and he alone - is God over all the kingdoms of the earth.
Strangely, it can be quite difficult to pray when things are tough. Sometimes we are
tempted to do things in our own strength, because trusting God isn’t easy, even though we
have experienced his faithfulness time and time again. But people of prayer know that this
is the first thing we should do - fall to our knees and seek God’s face.
Thank you, God, that you love to hear our prayers. Thank you that we can pour out our
hearts to you, knowing that you hear us and that you care. Please help us to remember
that we can always come to you, in the good times and the bad, trusting that the God who
watches over us neither slumbers nor sleeps. Amen.
Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the Lord: The time will surely come when
everything in your palace, and all that your predecessors have stored up until this day, will
be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the Lord. And some of your
descendants, your own flesh and blood who will be born to you, will be taken away, and
they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”
2 Kings 20:16-18
Hezekiah’s story concludes with two rather sobering events. Firstly, he becomes very ill
and Isaiah is sent to tell him to prepare to die. At the age of 39 this must have been
devastating news for the king, who cries out to God and pleads with him to save his life.
Unfortunately he appeals not only to God’s mercy but his own devotion, as though he
thinks God owes him something!
Despite this, God grants his request and he is healed. Hezekiah then shows a lack of
judgment in a second way. Envoys visit him from Babylon - almost certainly to attempt to
form an alliance - and Hezekiah shows them his supplies and armoury, suggesting his
willingness to encourage an arrangement between their nations.
Isaiah speaks strongly to the king, condemning his actions, but Hezekiah’s response
implies he is not concerned for the future, only for comfort and ease in his own lifetime.
“The word of the Lord you have spoken is good,” Hezekiah replied. For he thought, “Will
there not be peace and security in my lifetime?”
So the great king is fallible......as we all are. We can be wise and we can be foolish. We
can do great things for God and we can mess up terribly. We are mud and marble, sinners
and saints. We must be careful never to be complacent, recognising that the very best of
us can still get it wrong up at times.
Thank God that there is grace, forgiveness and
restoration! We are always in need of his mercy.
Help us Lord, to stay humble and dependent on you. Help us never to think that we’re
incapable of getting it wrong. And thank you that even when we mess up, you love us and
you will forgive us if we seek your face in reverence and humility. Amen