The Lord’s fame- 2 Kings 18-19
What an amazing story in these two chapters. Hezekiah became the king of Judah and God had great things to say about him. He is only 1 of 3 in David’s lineage of kings of whom the following was said-
“He did right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done.” 2 Kings 18:3
He tore down the pagan altars and high places. He even destroyed the bronze snake Moses had made for healing because the people had been worshiping it.
“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 cease to follow him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses. And the Lord was with him.” 2 Kings 18: 5-7
That didn’t mean life was perfect for him or that he was perfect but he had a heart for God and trusted God when challenges arose.
In the early years of his reign, Israel was besieged then captured by the Assyrians. In his 14th year, the king of Assyria came to oppose him at Jerusalem. The Assyrian king used a clever strategy. He sent his commanders to yell to the people on the walls of Jerusalem telling them their intent, trying to get them to surrender without a fight. The message was something like this- ‘how dare you think you can hold out against us! Who are you basing your confidence on? You will get no help from Egypt and your king tore down the altars to your God so he won’t help you either. In fact, God told us to destroy you.’ Hezekiah’s officials asked the Assyrian commanders to converse in Arabic since they understood it but they continued to speak Hebrew because their intent was to intimidate and stir up the people against their king. Hezekiah was distressed at the news and sent messengers to Isaiah to ask him to pray for them all. Isaiah sent back the message from God to not fear but to trust.
The Assyrian king then sent a letter to Hezekiah telling him that none of the gods from the other countries he had destroyed were able to save them so Hezekiah should just give up. I just LOVE Hezekiah’s response! He took the letter to the temple and spread it out before the Lord and prayed.
“Give ear, O Lord, and hear; Open your eyes, O Lord, and see; Listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to insult the living God… Now, O Lord, our God, deliver us from his hand so that all kingdoms on earth may know that you alone, O Lord, are God.” 2 Kings 16, 19
I love that Hezekiah didn’t pray for his life to be spared or his possessions or palace or power. He wasn’t focused on his fame but on the Lord’s fame. I’m reminded of David’s words to Goliath when he told him-
“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:45
These two men, David and Hezekiah, did not take the insults personally nor did they think of themselves. They were offended for the sake of their Lord’s name and fame. Funny how we can get so upset about the most trivial of things yet when our God is spoken of disrespectfully or his name is used in vain- we do nothing. We don’t even think about it because it has become so commonplace. It is time for us to take a stand for the sake of our God. The beauty of it is that we won’t be standing alone- God will be with us. David defeated Goliath against great odds. Hezekiah saw the king of Assyria flee without engaging in a battle with him. An angel of the Lord went out at night and put to death 185,000 in the Assyrian camp. The king fled only to be assassinated by 2 of his sons.
When we stand up for God, we are never standing alone. These two men lived their lives, not just these two events, focused on pleasing, knowing, and standing for God. They didn’t do their own thing day in and day out and then all of a sudden have the faith to stand in the face of these great challenges. No, they lived for God day in and day out and when the great challenges came, they were prepared and had the faith to stand. We need to follow their examples. We need to live sold out to God day in and day out. It is the only way we will be prepared for the great challenges we face in our lives. Help me, Lord, to follow their examples. Give me the faith, trust and courage to stand strong in the face of great challenges and adversity. Amen.