Second Kings 18 Commentary
We are introduced to King Hezekiah, son of the wicked king, Ahaz. He kept the standards of his ancestor David. “He got rid of the local fertility shrines, smashed the phallic stone monuments, and cut down the sex-and-religion Asherah groves. As a final stroke, he pulverized the ancient bronze serpent that Moses had made; at that time the Israelites had taken up the practice of sacrificing to it—they had even dignified it with a name, Nehushtan (The Old Serpent).”
There is no righteousness without any physical effort to get rid of wrong things that offend the LORD.
Because of Hezekiah’s faithfulness, the LORD restored Israel’s fortunes. He resisted the rule of Assyria for a long time. Enslavement was never part of the deal the LORD signed with Israel. His trust was in the LORD his God. He prayed the LORD would keep Jerusalem safe from enslavement.
Assyria however, attacked and captured all the fortified cities of Judah. Only Jerusalem was left. We are given a picture of fire burning everything and everywhere apart from a spot of righteousness that oozed from Hezekiah’s heart.
Regardless, Assyria still threatened Jerusalem. Hezekiah’s officials are disheartened, for good reasons. They tear their clothes in lamentation. The danger was real and very much present.
Again the scripture is painting for us a picture for our instruction. The battles that we face are spiritual in nature. Like the Assyrian commander, the enemy gives us a long list of evidence, in a language that we can easily understand. The profile is impressively strong. It cannot be ignored. No wonder the high-ranking officials of Judah are disheartened.
We shall see how Hezekiah responded to this threat tomorrow. But for now, we have our own questions. How do we respond when the enemy threatens us? When we hear testimonies of the power of the opponent, how do we react?
Part of the message from Assyria was a promise of easy life for the people. I can take care of you better. Forget Hezekiah’s God. This message was very clear. How does the saint react when these options are laid on the table? Yes, enslavement but also a promise of good things; but at the cost of one’s faith in the LORD. How does the saint reconcile these competing voices?
There are a lot of practical lessons from the righteousness of Hezekiah and how he responded, but that is for chapter 19 tomorrow.
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