Monday, 20 July 2015 11:55

God And King Hezekiah

Written by
In this fifth and last message on King Hezekiah, we look at something negative about this great king of Judah from the past. He wasn’t someone perfect. He too fell short of consistently being consistent in seeking and serving the LORD with all his heart and soul and mind and strength. While a great king from David’s line, Hezekiah was not the Messiah King, and his reign and rule too calls out for the Great Royal Son of David, the promised Messiah King Himself. As one put it: Even the best of men are only men and thus are subject to flaws. The last chapter on Hezekiah’s life is meant to impress us with this sobering reality, and so to make room for the gospel of Jesus Christ in our hearts and lives. Our theme for today is “King Hezekiah’s story so calling out for the Messiah!” Let us learn how the text brings this out thinking about haughty Hezekiah, humbled Hezekiah, holy Hezekiah, and hopeful Hezekiah. All three passages that tell about his last fifteen years, II Kings 20, II Chronicles 32, and Isaiah 39, bring out this matter of Hezekiah becoming haughty, that is, proud in his heart before God and people. In the II Chronicles 32 passage it is actually stated in vs. 25 that “his heart was lifted up” and there was “the pride of his heart”, literally the lifting up of his heart in haughtiness and arrogance. Matthew Henry says it well stating: When Hezekiah had destroyed other idolatries, he began to idolize himself. In II Chronicles 32:25 we read “But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up.” Hezekiah, falling into pride, began to become forgetful of God and all His undeserved mercies and favors to him. This led him in haughty ungratefulness before God and worldly vain ambition at the same time, looking for his own ways to solve his problems, independent of God. Do you ask how this comes out in our text passage? We are told about this important delegation from Babylon that came to visit King Hezekiah. They likely visited following both Hezekiah’s dramatic victory over the Assyrians when the LORD by one of his angels slew 185000 of their soldiers as learned about earlier, and also after Hezekiah’s miraculous healing from a sickness unto death. Try to imagine how these events all impacted Hezekiah. He was becoming world famous in his holding back the Assyrians which was the world power in that time, and then his wonderful healing. It was a healing, remember, which included an astonishing cosmic sign with God miraculously pushing time and the sun’s shadow back some degrees. And, as we read in the text, during the last 15 years of his life he grew in so much wealth that under his rule the nation of Judah prospered greatly in all kinds of ways. Hezekiah “was magnified in the sight of all nations” in those extra fifteen years given him. But sadly, we would say, he let it get to his head. King Hezekiah showed he couldn’t live godly in prosperity as he lived godly in adversity before. Isn’t this the way it very often goes? Doesn’t every child of God painfully admit, from experience even, that this is so sadly common to us by nature? How easy for us to forget God when all is going well for us. In this case we are told Hezekiah’s pride really showed itself when the Babylonian delegation comes to visit him with more presents. It is clear from the historical setting that the Babylonians had more than just congratulations in view with this visit. They were looking for political alliance with the king of Judah, especially against their common enemy, the Assyrians. Having heard too about the great healing of Hezekiah and his military and economic successes to date and the fact that his God really seemed to highly honor and favor him, the Babylonians saw very much reason to visit with him and to get into political and military alliance with him. For Hezekiah too, this seemed like a great deal and good thing in the ongoing battles and dangers from the Assyrians and other surrounding enemies. So we are told Hezekiah gave the Babylonian delegation full honors and he disclosed to them everything of his wealth and achievements and arsenal and supplies. Indeed, we read in II Kings 20:13, “There was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not.” Now you could ask, what was wrong with doing that? Wasn’t Hezekiah simply being hospitable? And we could conclude this, except that God Himself in His word has us look into Hezekiah’s heart here. And God saw lurking in Hezekiah’s heart a spirit of ingratitude, pride, and ungodly worldly ambition. Here Hezekiah was forgetting God and without acknowledging the LORD he was looking for worldly alliances and favors to accomplish his goals. Reading about this from this overall godly king, how we ourselves should be so afraid and on guard against falling into this same snare of sinful and shameful pride before God and our neighbor. Here it is good to ask: In what ways might the sin of pride be lurking in my heart? Some in blind pride refuse even to examine themselves about this matter. But you won’t be so arrogant, will you? Paul admonishes Christians in Corinth in his day in I Corinthians 4:6ff, “…That no one of you be puffed up for one against another. For who maketh thee to differ from another? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive? Now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou didst not receive it?” And in I Corinthians 8:1 the same apostle writes what can be also considered the theme of I Corinthians really, “knowledge puffeth up, but charity [love] edifieth [builds up others].” Where there is pride there is ingratitude and arrogance before God and others. There is ungodly selfish ambition and a wrong focus not only detrimental to yourself but inevitably also hurtful to others. Notice how we are told in II Chronicles 32:25 that because of Hezekiah’s sinful pride, “therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem.” A healthy and true Christian examines his or her heart for sinful pride, and asks God to search this evil out and to help fight all haughtiness even as it begins to be found in our hearts. The natural man apart from God’s grace and Spirit is only always filled with sinful, foolish, selfish, ignorant, hurtful pride. Do you know this about yourself too personally? Is this a matter of daily confession and prayer also in your life? Surely the history of Hezekiah should teach us this and have us call out to the Saviour King, Jesus Christ the LORD. Don’t you agree it so brings out our ever present need of Him and His saving and sanctifying help every step of our earthly pilgrimage? God tested Hezekiah, “…that he might know all that was in his heart.” Are any of us left blameless when God examines us with this word and looks into your and my heart? Thankfully we can move to our next point where we learn about haughty Hezekiah being humble-hearted when confronted with his sins and sinfulness. Yes, happily the Bible tells us how Isaiah was sent by God to visit with King Hezekiah after the Babylonian delegation had left. Notice how Isaiah as God-sent prophet didn’t immediately charge Hezekiah about his pride and sin but rather he asks him questions to have the king himself confess and acknowledge his haughty spirit. Can’t we learn from this approach especially also when needing to confront someone with wrongdoing? In this case it is a blessing that King Hezekiah gladly received the prophet’s visit and that he honestly answered Isaiah’s questions. Reading between the lines it is clear King Hezekiah humbly submitted to the Lord’s rebuke concerning himself. It would not have been an easy visit for Isaiah to undertake but as faithful prophet of the Lord he exposed the pride and waywardness of Hezekiah, addressing the king saying, “Hear the Lord of hosts.” And Hezekiah listened and submitted to the word of the Lord of hosts. He didn’t continue in pride to defend himself or to say God’s ways with him were unfair and unjust. Hezekiah acknowledged he did wrong and was sorry for his sin. When Isaiah spoke the words of awful judgment to come upon Judah, including Hezekiah’s family, for all their sins and sinfulness, Hezekiah didn’t protest in anger. Even when it was said that the Babylonians would come in the future and take away all the treasures of Judah and that the sons of the royalty, including from Hezekiah, would be made eunuchs, humiliated captive slaves serving in the palace of the king of Babylon. Hezekiah realized even that was not underserved punishment for all the sins of the people, including his own sins now as king of Judah. Do you humbly submit to God’s verdict and punishment for all your sins and sinfulness? Do you admit we don’t deserve a single blessing from God ever, of ourselves, and God is not unjust if He would destroy us and our families in all their generations? We live in a time where all too many have an attitude of being entitled to this and that. But of ourselves, isn’t it true, we and our families and our land are deserving only always to be under God’s just and holy wrath for all our sins and sinfulness? Hezekiah knew this in his heart as we learned also from the earlier chapters about him. We read in II Chronicles 32:26, “Notwithstanding [nevertheless] Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.” Hezekiah, by God’s grace, humbled himself before the word of the Lord. Can that be said of you? Does God see you being humble-hearted before Him and other people and just so sorry for your sins and sinfulness, even on a daily basis? Shouldn’t it be that way with you and me? If it is not so, isn’t that just our remaining stubborn sinful pride and arrogance, most foolish and fatal if we stay so perverse, God forbid? Isn’t there reason for true and growing repentance? Not only when we become Christians by God’s grace, but also the longer we are Christians. Does this make sense to you? True humility before God and His word shows in always being ready and willing to hear God’s word and to pay attention to it and pray that it may serve as a lamp to our feet and a light upon our path. Is that what you do too? Or does the word generally hardly get read by you, and barely get heard by you, and very seldom be meditated on by you? Is the word mostly just going in one ear and out the other? Hezekiah listened and responded honestly and humbly. Oh, that the same may be true for all of us. For it is as we humble ourselves before God, confessing our sins and sinfulness, by God’s grace, that room is made also by God’s Spirit for calling out to the Saviour, Jesus Christ, to cleanse and renew us and save us for now and always. Isn’t this something that all God’s true people experience and can tell about? King Hezekiah with his shortcomings and failures even as godly king and his own schemes and plans couldn’t really nor ultimately deliver the people of Judah from their coming destruction and doom. While we shouldn’t conclude that Hezekiah’s sin of pride became the single reason for the final destruction of Judah by the Babylonians, still it was another occasion for the LORD to pronounce His just judgment upon Judah. Considering all our sins and sinfulness by nature, how can anyone escape the righteous judgment for sin we all deserve? There is only one Name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. That is the great royal seed of David as revealed in Jesus Christ, the Saviour of sinners. Saying that brings me now to our third point about holy Hezekiah in this last chapter of his life. What do I mean with him being holy? He was a God-fearing man as the text clearly reveals that he put his trust in the word of the Lord. The king, in fact, shows himself as thankful to God and, we may believe, intent on living to God’s praise and in His service for as long as he would live still. In other words, Hezekiah didn’t continue living in pride but he lived on, by God’s grace, in humble holy dependency upon the LORD, also for his family and the future of Judah and the cause and kingdom of the LORD. We know this for in response to Isaiah’s message, the king answers as told in Isaiah 39:8, “Good is the word of the LORD which you have spoken.” Hezekiah submits to God’s word in a right way. And notice he also is thankful for the mercy shown to him. The kindness of God that the righteous judgment upon Judah by God’s hand through the Babylonians wouldn’t come immediately and not till after his death. This shouldn’t be taken to mean Hezekiah selfishly only cared for peace and blessing in his own lifetime and as if he didn’t care for what would follow. No, we should understand it to mean Hezekiah was grateful to God for the postponement of judgment. As one commentator put it, “the king recognizes the mercy and restraint in Yahweh’s word” here. We shouldn’t see self-centeredness in Hezekiah’s response but rather gratitude to God for His mercy still. Gratitude mixed, no doubt, with grieving and intercession for the time after his lifetime, thinking of the generations following including his own offspring that God would grant to him. When you and I are truly humble before God and His gospel word, we become thankful for the least of God’s mercies. We begin to live ever asking God for His undeserved mercies and loving-kindnesses for His own Name’s sake, not only for ourselves but also for others. The text suggests strongly this is how King Hezekiah lived the remaining days of his life. When he died we are told in II Chronicles 32:33, “They buried him in the chiefest [highest] of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honor at his death. And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.” Is your life holy before God and others, similarly fighting against sin and seeking to live in all-out dedication and devotion to God and for His people and the extension of His church and kingdom? Do you too live in the hope of the promises of God’s mercy and grace despite the fact of deserving only His wrath in and of yourself? Is not the great gospel message that ultimately God Triune would take care Himself to make a way of complete and free escape from His just wrath for all our sins and sinfulness? Indeed, the good news the Bible proclaims is that the LORD God Himself would make a way of salvation for sinners like us, leading us into the ultimate promised land of eternal heaven itself in the new world to come? Yes, this is the Christian’s hope and comfort in all of life, also for our loved ones in their generations, and for all people who hear and repent of sin and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this regard, can we not say, and must we not say, praise God, King Hezekiah lived and died also as a hopeful believer in God and His promises? As God would show mercy and restraint from the outpouring of His righteous wrath in Hezekiah’s time still, might God not do so for the future generations as well, for all who repent and believe? And the good news of the gospel is, YES, the LORD of hosts would and did and even now still does so in this time of grace! The gospel is that God so loved the world that He would give, and we know He has given, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ the Saviour to suffer and swallow up the righteous eternal wrath of God for sin, on behalf of all His people, even for as many as repent and believe. This explains the whole event and message of Christ crucified and risen again. Jesus is the complete and victorious Saviour of sinners, being God and man in one person and living a perfect sinless life on the sinner’s behalf while at the same time paying the full punishment for sin, suffering God’s just wrath as the Just for the unjust in the place of sinners like us. In and with Christ Jesus we find that promised Saviour King who truly and eternally saves His people from their sins and delivers us from hell and makes room for us in heaven. That is the precious gospel truth. How can we be sure King Hezekiah died a hopeful man in this provision of the Lord and trusting His promises for the future, even for his children’s generations? And that we should do the same, by God’s grace? The text itself, from all three passages in Kings, Chronicles, and Isaiah, gives us some delightful details, calling us so to hope in God our Saviour and to rejoice in Him as KING of KINGS and LORD of LORDS. For one, consider the mentioning of the waterway system Hezekiah engineered and built in Jerusalem. The text highlights it as a great accomplishment of King Hezekiah, so providing a secure water supply for Jerusalem, even in time of war. But yet this could not and would not save the people from destruction. They then, and we now, need the Lord Jesus Christ, the water of everlasting life, as our Saviour and Lord for with Him only is found salvation. Water for the body only, as important as that is, can’t save us from eternal death and judgment. We need the great Messiah King and the water of eternal life found in and through Him and His gospel ministry. Think here of Jesus’ words in John 4:13ff to the woman at the well of Samaria. “Whosoever drinks of this water [taken just from this world and only for our body] shall thirst again. But whosever drinks of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Do you see how the reference to Hezekiah as a good king also with his amazing water system development calls out for the Messiah King? The water system of King Hezekiah is nothing compared to the water of life God supplies to His people, even for as many as call out to Christ the Saviour! No matter how dead and dry we may be in ourselves, with the LORD our God is the gracious sure invitation as mentioned in Isaiah 12. “…with joy to draw water out of the wells of salvation” that God has opened up for sinners like us by His provision in and through Christ Jesus and His once for all sacrifice as Saviour of sinners. A second detail to mention bringing out clearly Hezekiah lived and died a hopeful believer and God would have His people be hopeful still today is the very setting of Hezekiah’s story especially in the book of Isaiah. The story of King Hezekiah, one of the better kings of Judah surely, is found right before Isaiah 40ff which focus on Christ the coming King. The prophet, led by God’s Spirit we may believe, told the story of this godly king Hezekiah yet imperfect to lead up to the ultimate King God would supply who would be perfect and full of grace and truth and whose reign would be eternal! In the gospel of Luke we read that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Highest sent of the Father in heaven to this earth. He has come to seek and to save sinners, and now as crucified and risen Saviour, is seated at God’s right hand ruling over all, and still calling by His word and Spirit to sinners worldwide, whosoever will, to come to Him while it is yet the day of grace. We need to see this link between chapters 36-39 and what further comes in Isaiah 40 and following when the Lord speaks comfortably to Jerusalem focusing mostly on the promised Redeemer Servant King, Christ Jesus the Lord. Do you see this link and call out to Christ to be your only Saviour and Lord, also for a guilty and needy sinner like yourself? Here it is moving to consider yet one more thought about hopeful Hezekiah. We saw he was thankful for the postponement of God’s judgment in his day, and hopeful even for the Lord’s mercy in the generations following, even when the Babylonians should come and would come. Was not God merciful and gracious also in the generations following? Yes, indeed, and think even of Hezekiah’s own son, Manasseh, who would become, sadly, one of the most wicked and evil kings of all Judah and world history. Yet even Manasseh when he humbled himself and cried to God for mercy from a prison cell in a foreign land, God heard and forgave him and Manasseh too became a saved man [II Chronicles 33:12-13]. The whole account about Manasseh, King Hezekiah’s son, is truly a most amazing story by itself making clear what the apostle Paul states so jubilantly in Timothy 1:15. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” Truly, the most evil of the worst of sinners is not a hopeless case before the Saviour of sinners! Come to Jesus, sinner, and you will find mercy and forgiveness, cleansing and full and free salvation. No one else can truly save from sin and judgment, and really do us good. None but Jesus and only Him! Let no one then continue living ungodly and unrepentant before this gospel message or foolishly be banking on a future time to take it seriously. No, says, the Lord, today is the day of salvation! King Hezekiah’s story so calling out for the Messiah King. Are you listening? Do you respond saying: Thanks, LORD, for Jesus Christ, the heaven-sent King, and for the Holy Spirit through the word instructing us and drawing us to Him. How better to end than with the words of a song based on Psalm 107, “O praise the Lord, ye sons of men, For all His goodness shown; O praise Him for the wondrous works, To you He has made known.” Amen Hans Overduin, Radio Pastor
Read 2532 times
More in this category: « Hezekiah's Healing

We have 1324 guests and no members online

© Free Reformed Churches of North America