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Here begins the last part of 2 Kings. It is about the history of Judah, the two tribes realm. This history is mainly determined by the kings Hezekiah and Josiah. The LORD has provided by each of them for a period of revival.
The history of Hezekiah can be found three times in Scripture: in 2 Kings 18-20, 2 Chronicles 29-32 and Isaiah 36-39. The fact that his history is told three times does not mean that we read the same story three times. It is not just a repetition. The history in Isaiah largely corresponds with what we find here, but in 2 Chronicles it is often different. In 2 Chronicles the priestly side is described, while here we have the historical events. In Isaiah history is described from a prophetic perspective.
In 2 Chronicles it is mainly about the restoration of the temple and the celebration of the Passover. Both events take place in the early days of the reign of Hezekiah. In 2 Kings and Isaiah it is more about events that take place in the second half of his reign.
In Isaiah this history gets its prophetic meaning. Isaiah 36-39 closes the first part of the book, with Assyria as the great enemy. This is also what will happen in the end time. The extermination of the king of Assyria, the king of the north, will be done by the LORD Himself, that is the Lord Jesus. Thereby He will deliver His people and thereafter the people will be in the realm of peace under the rule of the Messiah, the Lord Jesus. The direct lesson is that there can be trust in the Lord Jesus in the most difficult circumstances.
Hezekiah Becomes King of Judah
Only a few years after Hezekiah becomes king, the ten tribes are deported from the land of Israel. What remains is the history of the two tribes. As has already been mentioned, the two tribes did not have let themselves be warned by what happened to the ten tribes. Nevertheless, it will take some time before for the two tribes also fall will the curtain and be taken away into exile. The two tribes remain the object of God’s grace for quite some time. In the remaining time that the two tribes live in the land, we get to see some special evidences of that grace.
The first proof is that God gives to an ungodly king, Ahaz, a God-fearing son, Hezekiah. In it we see the care of God for a remnant. The name of the mother of Hezekiah is mentioned. She is called Abi, which means ‘my father’. She knew in the LORD a Father who helped her to raise her son Hezekiah in the fear of the LORD, a fear that completely failed with Ahaz.
Hezekiah is a king upon whom the LORD looks down with joy, and who reminds him of David, the man after his heart. The first acts of Hezekiah’s reign to be noted are things that have to do with idolatry. He takes away and destroys what has seized the hearts of the people, and by which the LORD is forgotten and despised. This also includes the bronze serpent. The bronze serpent was once a blessing by the grace of God. It has been a God-given means to be healed for every member of the people who had been bitten by a poisonous serpent when he looked at it (Numbers 21:9).
That is not to say that the bronze serpent gave healing. A person was healed only when he looked at the serpent in obedience to what God had said. So someone only looked if he believed in what God had said. However, the bronze serpent has become an object of worship instead of God. As if the bronze serpent, that piece of metal, had given the salvation.
It can also be the same with wearing a cross. The cross brings salvation to anyone who believes that Christ died there for him (John 3:14-Nehemiah :). But whoever wears a wooden cross and pays homage to it, shows that for him this cross is a mascot. That must be destroyed. This is also what Hezekiah does with the Nehushtan. He shatters this idolatrous image.
The strength of Hezekiah’s actions lies in his faithfulness. 2 Kings 18:5-Joshua : give an impressive testimony to this. There we read that “he trusted in the LORD” in a way that is unique “among all the kings of Judah”. He “clung to the LORD”, another beautiful expression. “He did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the LORD had commanded Moses.”
His whole performance bears witness of his faithfulness to the LORD, submitting himself to what the LORD has said to Moses. The word that the LORD has spoken many centuries before, is for Hezekiah the absolute measure for his behavior. The same applies to us. We, who also live in an end time, are reminded of “the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior [spoken] by your apostles” (2 Peter 3:2; Jude 1:17).
It should come as no surprise then that we read from Hezekiah that “the LORD was with him” and that “wherever he went he prospered”. Because he trusts in God, he puts an end to the connection with the king of Assyria. Every human support is a denial of trust in the LORD. The consequence of his breaking off of contacts with the king of Assyria was that he defeats the Philistines. The Philistines are allies of Assyria and are a great threat to Israel because of their claim to the land.
Israel Carried Away Into Exile
These verses repeat a part of the history of Israel and Hoshea (2 Kings 17:4-Ruth :). One possible reason is that the writer wants to show the contrast between Hoshea and Hezekiah. Hoshea has not taken the LORD into account, while Hezekiah fully trusts in the LORD. Israel did not listen to “all that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded”, which Hezekiah exactly does (2 Kings 18:6).
Hezekiah Pays Sanherib Tribute
The historian passes over ten years of the reign of Hezekiah and takes us to the fourteenth year of his reign. It seems that in the years that have passed, his confidence in faith has slowly declined, so we must now hear that he is bowing before the king of Assyria who is threatening him. His trust in God seems to have disappeared.
Hezekiah subjects to the king of Assyria and has forgotten the LORD. He has left the way of faith. When he says to the king of Assyria, “I have done wrong,” he is actually saying that his right way for the LORD is a wrong way. It is not the LORD Who is standing before him any more, but he sees things in the light of the king of Assyria. It is a sin of Hezekiah to say so.
To buy off the threat, Hezekiah proposes to the king of Assyria that he will pay what is imposed on him. The sum is determined. To pay it Hezekiah takes all the silver of the temple and of his own treasures. It is an action due to lack of faith. Hezekiah also cuts off the gold from the temple doors and doorposts to pay for what is imposed on him by the king of Assyria.
Bluster Against the LORD
The word “then”, which begins with 2 Kings 18:17, makes it clear that the enormous tribute given by Hezekiah to the king of Assyria has helped nothing. The king of Assyria continues to rob. He breaks the covenant Hezekiah made with him. He sends high officers with a large army to Jerusalem.
The place where the enemy comes (2 Kings 18:17) is the place where Isaiah has previously met king Ahaz, the father of Hezekiah (Isaiah 7:3). Isaiah has his little son with him on that occasion. There Ahaz is shown a way out, but he refuses to accept it in faith. At that place of water and a fuller’s field a promise is given. Water speaks of cleansing and the fuller’s field of cleansing of clothing. The name of the son of Isaiah, Shear-jashub, means ‘a rest will repent’. There is also talk about the birth of the Messiah. This is where the enemy comes up with a message that puts Hezekiah to the test.
Hezekiah sent a delegation to hear what the men of Assyria want (2 Kings 18:18). It becomes a one-sided conversation. In 2 Kings 18:19, the commander begins an impressive speech with much rhetoric. There is a lot of what is true in this and there is also a lot of falsehood. Everything he says is meant to frighten Hezekiah and the men of Judah.
He begins by presenting the king of Assyria as “the great king”. The question in 2 Kings 18:20 is a penetrating and justified question. In 2 Kings 18:21 Hezekiah must hear from the mouth of a heathen that his trust is not in the LORD, but in an earthly king. This is a correct and sad observation. Egypt is not to rely on. The LORD himself compares Egypt to a broken reed (Ezekiel 29:6-Judges :).
But, the commander goes on, if Hezekiah would say that he trusts in the LORD, this also means nothing (2 Kings 18:22). Hezekiah may have taken away the high places, but what has that yielded? Has this brought any good to the people? Are they grateful for that? The commander tries to create discord between Hezekiah and the people, because the people hear everything the commander says.
Another argument for breaking the resistance is to point out the weakness of Hezekiah’s army (2 Kings 18:23-Jeremiah :). His whole army is nothing. Hezekiah would not even be able to supply the horsemen for two thousand horses if the king of Assyria gave them to him.
Another argument to impress the men of Judah is a reference to a command of the LORD which the commander would have to come up (2 Kings 18:25). He says that without any faith. At the same time there is truth in it, because the Assyrians are God’s rod of discipline for His people. This statement will therefore turn against him, because while he says what is true, he does nothing to change his relationship with God.
It seems that the commander is silent for a moment to see how his words are reacted to. Hezekiah’s delegation also reacts (2 Kings 18:26), but without any resistance. They give no sign of trust in the all-powerful God, the God of His people. Their reaction is one of fear. They do not want the people to hear this, because it will only discourage them more. But that is precisely the intention of the commander.
The reaction elicits another tirade from the commander. Encouraged by what the delegation has said in their fear, he speaks to all the people who are there. They should listen carefully to his words, otherwise they will, together with the leaders of the people, feed themselves with their own excrements and quench their thirst with their own urine (2 Kings 18:27). When he has painted this picture in front of them, the commander, in Judean and with a loud voice, starts again with the representation of “the great king” (2 Kings 18:28; cf. 2 Kings 18:19).
The people must understand well that Hezekiah is a worthless and misleading king. Hezekiah is powerless, as is the LORD, to whom Hezekiah refers (2 Kings 18:29-Amos :). No, it is better for them to surrender to the king of Assyria. Instead of feeding on their excrement and quenching their thirst with their own urine, they will eat the delicious fruits of their own vine and fig tree and drink water from their own well (2 Kings 18:31).
The commander, clever and misleading as he is, makes it very attractive to surrender by presenting the country where he will lead God’s people as the same country they now live in (2 Kings 18:32). Faith will see this immediately. That land is not the land of God; for his temple is not there, where he cistern. It all seems to look beautiful, but the LORD is not there. Let us also hold on to what God has given and not exchange it for false promises.
The deeds he mentions (2 Kings 18:33-Habakkuk :) are right, but he commits folly to lower the LORD to an idol. The LORD is for him as one of the idols of the other countries. This foolish and low view will therefore ultimately lead to his insulting downfall.
The reaction of Hezekiah’s delegation to this second speech by the commander is one of silence (2 Kings 18:36). They remain silent because Hezekiah had told them to. It is sometimes good and important not to respond to certain statements. Silence sometimes speaks more clearly and louder than speaking. Not that the mission is silent in faith. The promise has brought them into deep dismay. With torn clothes they go to Hezekiah and tell him what the commander said (2 Kings 18:37).
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Kings 18". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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