A Good Life (2 Kings 18:1-8)
President Clinton, quoting advice from his college friend Kit Ashby, said, “Great Presidents don’t do great things. Great Presidents get a lot of other people to do great things.” That is so true—a President must inspire in the American people the desire to make this country better; he, singlehandedly, can do little. This same leadership was important in antiquity—a king had the ability to inspire greatness in the lives of his subjects.
Hezekiah was such a king—he began a reformation in Judah. Tonight, we want to examine the example of Hezekiah in order that we might follow it. May we imitate the pleasing deeds of Hezekiah.
His Destruction of Idolatry, vv 1-4
In the third year of King Hoshea of Israel, Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz, began to reign in Judah. He was twenty-five years old when he became king.
Hezekiah accomplished a great deal of good shortly after he became king. So many act as though young people cannot do very much in the church—young folks themselves often feel that they cannot do much in the work of the church. Yet, here is an example of a young person accomplishing great things for God.
Young people have often served God faithfully and done great things for him. “Now the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli” (1 Sam 3:1). The Bible says of Josiah: “In the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young [about 16], he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year [when he was about 20] he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images” (2 Chr 34:3).
Just because someone is young does not mean that he cannot do great things. Victor Hugo wrote a tragedy at 15 and received three prizes at the Academy and the title of Master before he was 20. Isaac Newton was 24 when he formulated the Law of Gravity, and he made some of his greatest discoveries before he was 25.
Young people, be willing to stand up and be counted, because you can do great things for the Lord!
Hezekiah did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. This comment is entirely favorable, and, therefore, rare. Seldom do you find an entirely positive comment about a Hebrew king. This is a sharp contrast with the many negative comments on the kings of Israel int eh previous chapter.
Hezekiah did what was right in the sight of the Lord. The phrase in the Old Testament means to obey God’s commands; Hezekiah obeyed God’s commands. We, too need to obey God’s commands. “LORD, I hope for Your salvation, And I do Your commandments” (Ps 119:116). “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt 7:21). In the public schools of Switzerland, the students learn the following slogan, “My duty is to obey and work for God and my native land.”
Hezekiah followed the example of David. Although he had been dead for years, David left an impact on future generations, and Hezekiah followed that example. We can leave an example for folks to follow after we die. Are we setting that example? Too, like Hezekiah, we can learn from the example of those who preceded us. Are you learning from those examples?
Hezekiah removed the altars from Judah. These high places, altars, and the wooden image had been a consistent religious feature in both the United and Divided Kingdom.
Hezekiah broke into pieces the bronze serpent Moses had made, for the Israelites burned incense to it. When the Lord sent the serpents among the Israelites, he instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent so that everyone who had been bitten by a serpent could look upon this bronze serpent and live (Num 21:8-9). The serpent was a fertility symbol in Canaanite religion, and the Israelites may very well have taken that Canaanite custom and applied it to what God had Moses make. What is amazing is that the Israelites took something good and made it into something improper.
Hezekiah got rid of all the things in Judah which prohibited the people from following God. These idols got in the way of the people’s devotion to God—instead of following God they were following the idols. We need to get rid of what gets in our way of serving God. What is it that gets in your way of serving God—family, money, job, entertainment, pleasure? Have you gotten rid of your “idol?”
His Dependence upon the Lord
Hezekiah trusted in the LORD; neither before nor after him was there another king like him in Judah.
“Trust” here means that Hezekiah relied upon God—he trusted what God said and he did what God said. We need to rely upon God, place our confidence in him. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding” (Prov 3:5). “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Tim 6:17). Do you put your trust in God? Do you know that whatever happens that God is in control, that he will not do wrong, that he will not leave you?
Hezekiah held fast to the LORD; he did not depart from following him, but kept his commandments. “Held fast” literally refers to physical things sticking together. The term is often used of part of the body—such as the tongue’s sticking to the roof of the mouth. Here, the term refers to sticking to God, to Hezekiah’s staying close to God.
We, too, need to hold fast to God, to stick closely with him. We need to spend time studying the Scriptures so that God can speak to us. We need to spend time in prayer so that we can stay close to God. We need to be careful about filling our minds with violent and sexual images and profanity so that we don’t crowd God out of our lives, so that we can stay close to him.
Hezekiah kept the commandments of God. He did what the Lord commanded Moses. We need to do what God commanded the apostles and prophets in the New Testament. Are you doing that?
The LORD was with Hezekiah, and he prospered wherever he went. This is reminiscent of the experience of David (2 Sam 8:14); Hezekiah is being presented as something of another David—he followed God closely, and God blessed him for it.
The Lord blessed Hezekiah because he obeyed the Lord; God will bless us if we obey him. “But the one who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (Js 1:25). “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 Jn 3:22). If we obey the Lord, he will bless us richly. Are you obeying the Lord? Is he blessing you richly?
Hezekiah rebelled against the king of Assyria, and he did not serve him. Because Hezekiah had torn down the altars in Judah and was restoring the worship of the true God, he incurred the wrath of Sennacherib, king of Assyria. A punitive campaign was launched by Sennacherib in 701 BC. But exactly how much time intervened between Hezekiah’s restoration and Sennacherib’s invasion is not clear. It would have taken some time for the news to reach Assyria and then for Sennacherib to gather his troops for an attack—this campaign by Sennacherib may have been as much as a year or more after Hezekiah’s reforms.
Here’s an interesting point—Not only does the historian tells us that the Lord blessed Hezekiah, but he gives us a specific example. This is not just some nice cliché that sounds nice on paper—it is a reality. If we are faithful to God and obey him, there will be specific episodes in our lives where God blesses us.
Once, when I was in college, my car broke down, and it was going to cost around $100 to fix. The next day, I received a $100 check from the Camargo Church of Christ I wasn’t expecting to help with college expenses. That’s not a “miracle,” but that was God’s working through his providence. I can give countless examples from my own life of how God worked to bless me, and I’m sure you can, too.
Are there specific incidents in your life where God has blessed us?
Hezekiah lived a good life. He destroyed idolatry, and he depended upon the Lord. Have you destroyed idolatry in your life? Are you depending upon the Lord?
Are you living a good life?