Hezekiah's Big Mistake

HEZEKIAH was a king of the southern kingdom of Judah, and a godly man. He reigned over the Judah for 29 years, from 715 -686 B.C. His life and history can be found in 2nd Kings 18:1-20:21, 2nd Chronicles 29:1-32:33, and also Isaiah 36:1-38:22.

Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother's name also was Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.

And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did. He removed the high places, and broke the images, and cut down the idol poles, and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made: for until those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.

He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clung to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses. (2 Kings 18:1-6)
Hezekiah's father was Ahaz, a very wicked and ungodly king, who had led Judah into idolatry and wickedness. He brought Baal worship to Judah, abolished the Levitical priesthood as ordained by God, confiscated the temple items, and even sacrificed his own sons to Baal. (2nd Kings 16:3; 2nd Chron. 28:3) Living under his father's influence, Hezekiah could easily have been just as vile and ungodly as Ahaz was. But Hezekiah's mother was Abijah, or Abi, whose name means “My father is Jehovah” or “The Will of God”. She was the daughter of Zechariah, who had been a spiritual advisor to King Uzziah, and had instructed him in the fear of the Lord. (2nd Chron. 26:5) True to her name, she obviously brought up her son to also seek the Lord and obey His commands. Her Godly influence outweighed the ungodly influence of Ahaz, and so her son Hezekiah was more zealous for the Lord than any of his predecessors. (2nd Kings 18:5) Because of Hezekiah's devotion to the Lord, revival came to Judah. He put God first in everything, and in return, God prospered him and he was successful in all that he did. (2nd Kings 18:6-7)

However, there were four major crises Hezekiah faced during his reign over Judah. These four things and his response to them defined his life. The first crisis Hezekiah faced took place at the very beginning of his reign; it was a crisis of choice: to follow after the ways of his idolatrous father, or to follow after the God of the patriarchs. His choice was to forsake the idols of his father Ahaz, purging Judah from idolatry and restoring the worship of Jehovah, the One true God. (2nd Chronicles 28:24,25 and 2nd Kings 18:4) Good choice, Hezekiah! Because of his faithfulness to God, both he and the nation were blessed, and prospered.

Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah. And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the LORD, and repaired them. And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, And said unto them, Hear me, you Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the LORD God of your fathers, and carry forth the filth out of the holy place.

For our fathers have trespassed, and done that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD our God, and have forsaken him, and have turned away their faces from the habitation of the LORD, and turned their backs. Also they have shut up the doors of the vestibule, and put out the lamps, and have not burned incense nor offered burnt offerings in the holy place unto the God of Israel. Therefore the wrath of the LORD was upon Judah and Jerusalem, and he has delivered them to trouble, to astonishment, and to hissing, as you see with your eyes. For, lo, our fathers have fallen by the sword, and our sons and our daughters and our wives are in captivity for this. Now it is in my heart to make a covenant with the LORD God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us. (2 Chronicles 29:1-10)
When he became king, Hezekiah started a national reformation very early in his reign. He had seen firsthand the dangers of idolatry, as he saw the northern kingdom fall to Assyria in the fourth year of his own reign in the southern kingdom. They did not obey the Lord, and had transgressed His covenant, and God allowed them to be overtaken by their enemies because of their disobedience and idolatry. Hezekiah had it in his heart to make a covenant with the Lord, instead of worshiping the useless idols of his father Ahaz.
And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser, king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it. And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes: Because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed his covenant, and all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded, and would not hear them, nor do them. (2nd Kings 18:9-12)
Hezekiah saw the northern kingdom fall to their enemies, and he was not to going to see this happen to Judah as it had to Israel. He tore down all the altars his father had built, and destroyed all the idols and temples in the land. He destroyed the bronze serpent that Moses had made in the desert, as the people had even made that into an idol. Ahaz had nailed shut the doors of the temple of the Lord; Hezekiah had the temple reopened and rededicated to the Lord, and reinstated the Levital priesthood (2nd Chronicles 29:5). The Passover was also reinstated as a national holiday (2nd Chron. 30:1).

The second crisis Hezekiah faced was the crisis of invasion: He had stopped paying tribute to the Assyrians, as his father had done. He even took back some of the cities they has taken during his father's reign. (2nd Chron. 28:18) Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came to Judah and besieged the fortified cities. (2nd Chronicles 32:1-21) The Assyrians had been powerful against all other nations, and taunted the Israelites that no other nation's gods had helped them, and the Israel's God would fail against him also. But Hezekiah encouraged the people not to be afraid, saying that Assyria had only an arm of flesh, but Israel had the LORD on their side to fight their battles. Hezekiah prayed to the Lord and was delivered from the Assyrians. In answer to Hezekiah's prayer, the LORD sent an angel who struck down 185,000 Assyrians in one night, and saved the inhabitants of Judah from the hand of Sennacherib. Wow! Again, Hezekiah's choice was a good, godly choice.

Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shield, nor cast up a seige mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, says the LORD. For I will defend this city, to save it, for my own sake, and for my servant David's sake. And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and struck in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. (2 Kings 19:32-36)
Hezekiah then faced his third crisis: a deathly illness. (Isaiah 38:1-5) In fact, Isaiah, the prophet of God, told him to get his house in order, because he was going to die. He wept and prayed to the Lord, and God heard his prayers and healed him from his sickness, adding fifteen more years to his life – peaceful years, because God also promised to save the Israelites from the Assyrians. Hezekiah's faithfulness to the Lord was once again rewarded.
In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus says the LORD, Set your house in order: for you shall die, and not live. Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the LORD, And said, Remember now, O LORD, I beseech you, how I have walked before you in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then came the word of the LORD to Isaiah, saying, Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father, I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears: behold, I will add unto your days fifteen years. (Isaiah 38:1-5)
It is important to note that after God had granted Hezekiah 15 more years of life, His “heart was lifted up”, and brought God's wrath upon himself. No matter how good and Godly a person might be, when greatly blessed of God, people tend to be filled with pride instead of giving God all their gratitude and praise. This will cause God to have to chastise them, and this is exactly what happened to Hezekiah.

This should serve as a warning to us, still to this day: if a very Godly man like Hezekiah could so easily fall victim to pride, so can we. The human heart is so deceitful, we often do not even recognize the hidden sin of pride (Jer. 17:9). And we often are unwilling to humble ourselves when we do recognize it. Hezekiah recognized the sin of pride at that time, though, and humbled himself. Because he had humbled himself, God blessed him with many riches, and with peace as well as prosperity. There is blessing associated with humbling ourselves before God.

In those days Hezekiah was sick and near death, and prayed unto the LORD: and he spoke unto him, and he gave him a sign. But Hezekiah returned not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Then 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. (2 Chronicles 32:24-26)
After his illness and miraculous healing, Hezekiah faced his final crisis: a crisis of prosperity. After making so many good and Godly choices, Hezekiah fell victim once again to pridefulness. The son of the king of Babylon sent envoys bearing letters and a gift. Hezekiah received them gladly; he was unduly elated by the honor and attention shown him by the king of Babylon, as well as by his own power and riches. This is where Hezekiah stumbled and made a terrible mistake. In his pride, Hezekiah displayed all his treasures to the pagan Babylonians. He showed off everything in his place, his storehouses, and everywhere in the kingdom. All his silver and gold, all his armory, and all his treasures – there was nothing he did not show them.
At that time Merodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered. And Hezekiah was pleased with them, and showed them the house of his treasures, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armory, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah showed them not.
When we read these words, we kind of want to smack Hezekiah up the side of his head and scream “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING????” Why in the world would anyone with any sense show envoys from a pagan nation all the treasures of your kingdom, all your armory: your defenses and equipment.... We can immediately recognize the terrible mistake Hezekiah made due to his excessive pride. Hezekiah, blinded by pride, unfortunately did not recognize his mistake, not even when Isaiah rebuked him for it.
Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from where came they unto you? And Hezekiah said, They have come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon. Then said he, What have they seen in your house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in my house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them. Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, says the LORD. And of your sons that shall issue from you, whom you shall beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which you have spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days. (Isaiah 39:1-8)
Prosperity and pride usually go hand-in-hand , and are a greater danger to our relationship with the Lord than anything else we can face. Even a Godly king like Hezekiah can easily fall victim to pride when things are going well. After passing all the other crises he had faced, he failed at this final one. Pride is a such a deadly sin, one that always goes before a fall. The prophet Isaiah told Hezekiah that there would be a time coming when all the treasures in his palace, and all the treasures his forefathers had stored up, would all be carried off to Babylon, that not a thing would be left. In addition, some of his own descendants would be carried off as slaves, to serve in the palace of the king of Babylon.

Even when told of the coming disaster, Hezekiah did not recognize or repent of his pridefulness. He thought to himself, “At least there will be peace in my lifetime.” (Isaiah 39:5-8) That's the trouble with pride: it makes one constantly focus on themselves, their own comfort and desires, their own will and their own way, rather than on God. It causes one to ignore the results of their prideful choices, and fail to see the consequences. After being diligent to seek God all these years, at the end Hezekiah allowed his pride in all his worldly things to lead him into a very foolish mistake, that eventually took the kingdom out of the hands of his descendants and made them the slaves of their conquerors.

And Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came against the city, and his servants did besiege it. And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he, and his mother, and his servants, and his princes, and his officers: and the king of Babylon took him in the eighth year of his reign. And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said.

And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valor, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths: none remained, except the poorest sort of the people of the land. And he carried away Jehoiachin to Babylon, and the king's mother, and the king's wives, and his officers, and the mighty of the land, those carried he into captivity from Jerusalem to Babylon. And all the men of might, even seven thousand, and craftsmen and smiths a thousand, all that were strong and apt for war, even them the king of Babylon brought captive to Babylon. (2 Kings 24:11-16)
Hezekiah died about 698 B. C. A little over a hundred years later, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon besieged the city of Jerusalem in 597 B.C., carrying off all the treasures of both the house of the Lord, and of the king's palace. (2nd Kings 24:11-14) He also took into captivity all the officials, all the mighty men of valor (the warriors), all the craftsmen and goldsmiths, and 10,000 other captives, including the descendants of Hezekiah. In 586 B.C., Judah fell to the Babylonians, and everything the Lord had spoken to Hezekiah through His prophet Isaiah came to pass, just exactly like God had said it would.

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