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ASSYRIA THREATENS JUDAH
Assyria had before this conquered the ten tribes (2 Kings 17:1-41), and their king, Sennacharib, confident of taking Judah also, came to encamp against the fortified cities (v.1). The Lord did not send him because of any guilt on Judah's part, as was the case with Israel, but it was to be a test of the faith of the godly king Hezekiah. He consulted with his leaders and commanders to stop the water from the springs which were outside the city (v.4), Spiritually speaking, this tells us that the enemies of the Lord have no right to the refreshment of the Word of God: this belongs to believers. The unbeliever, if he gets knowledge of God's Word, will only misuse it.
Hezekiah made full preparations for war, just as the believer is told to "put on the whole armour of God' (Ephesians 6:11). He built up the wall that was broken and built another wall outside as a double protection, also making many weapons and shields. But though he prepared these armaments, he did not depend on them. Gathering the military leaders in the open square of the city gate, he told them to "be strong and courageous" (v.7), though not to depend on their strength and courage, but on the Lord their God; for the king of Assyria depended on an arm of flesh, but Israel's God was infinitely greater. Thus the words of Hezekiah were of real strength to the people (v.8). God would certainly not fail them.
Sennacharib then tried the force of human argument against Judah. But Judah would immediately discern the ignorance of his arguments. He said that Hezekiah was trying to persuade Judah to give themselves over to die of famine and thirst when he assured Judah that the Lord God would deliver them from the power of the king of Assyria. He knew that Hezekiah had abolished the high places of worship, and thought that these were God's high places so that he considered that Hezekiah had insulted God!
What abject ignorance. Hezekiah had honoured God by destroying this idolatrous worship and returning to the true worship of having one altar, symbolical of Christ.
Sennacharib further declared that the gods of many nations had not delivered those nations from destruction at the hand of Assyria, therefore Judah could not depend on their God to deliver them (vv.13-14). How little he realised that the gods of the nations (including his own nation) were helpless idols in contrast to the God of Israel who created all things.
This haughty enemy of God appealed to the people of Judah to not let Hezekiah deceive them, but to refuse to believe him: for Sennacharib wanted Judah to let him deceive them into thinking that God was no better than the idols of the nations (v.15). Thus his servants spoke both against the Lord and against Hezekiah (v.16). Added to this determined campaign were letters written by Sennacharib using the same insulting language against God, declaring Him to be as helpless as the idols of other nations (v.17). Also the servants of Sennacharib who were besieging the city called out loudly in the Hebrew language to the people of Jerusalem, desiring to frighten them into submission (vv.18-19). Isaiah 36:11-20 records this attack as being the work of Rabshakeh in railing against God.
GOD'S ANSWER TO ASSYRIA
As we have seen, though Hezekiah had prepared for war, it was not his preparations that saved Judah. Rather, in utter helplessness, Hezekiah and Isaiah prayed and cried out to heaven, and the Lord gained the victory for him. The Lord sent an angel who cut down every mighty man of valour, leader and captain in the camp of the king of Assyria (vv.20-2 1). In fact, at that time the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 of the Assyrians (Isaiah 37:36). Sennacharib returned in shame to his own land, and in the temple of his idolatrous god his own sons killed him with the sword. How helpless his god was to deliver him! ¾ and how little respect for his god did his own sons show! Thus the evil of man defeats his own selfish ends.
However, the simplicity of Hezekiah's faith assured his salvation from the king of Assyria, as from other enemies as well, and he was given the blessing of the Lord's guidance in every way. Other nations recognised the Lord's grace over Judah and brought gifts to the Lord and also presents to Hezekiah. Thus God exalted him in the sight of all the nations.
HEZEKIAH'S FAILURE AND HUMBLING
This book of Chronicles does not give the details as regards Hezekiah's sickness and recovery as does 2 Kings 20:1-11. There we read that Isaiah had told him to set his house in order, for he would die from the sickness God had allowed him. But instead of simply bowing to the Word of the Lord, he urgently prayed, on the basis of his faithful walk, that God would change his mind. He wept bitterly at the thought of dying. What had happened to his faith at this time? Did he not know that God was perfectly wise in what He had said? But evidently he needed a lesson he had not learned before.
The Lord then sent Isaiah back to him with the message that He had heard his prayer and had seen his tears, and would heal him and add fifteen years to his life (2 Kings 20:5-6). Then Isaiah had instructed that a lump of figs be laid on the boil, which led to Hezekiah's recovery. More than this, God gave him the sign of the shadow going back ten degrees on the sundial (2 Kings 20:9-11). This is the sign of which2 Chronicles 32:24; 2 Chronicles 32:24 speaks.
"But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favour shown him, for his heart was lifted up" (v.25). He was evidently proud of the fact that he had gained fifteen years because of his faithful life. If he had died when the Lord told him to, he would have been the only king of Israel to have a really bright end to his reign, for his extra fifteen years added painful sorrow to his history. In fact, immediately following his recovery he failed badly when the king of Babylon sent him letters and a present to compliment him on his recovery. He was deceived by the friendliness of this enemy of Israel and showed his servants all his treasures and his armaments (2 Kings 20:12-13). Because of this the Lord sent Isaiah to tell him that all these treasures would be carried away to Babylon (2 Kings 20:16-18). What a warning to us not to be deceived by friendly enemies!
However, Hezekiah did humble himself because of his failure in this case, so that God did not in his lifetime bring the Babylonians to attack. Judah (v.26).
HEZEKIAH'S PROSPERITY AND HONOR
2 Chronicles does not dwell on Hezekiah's failure, but on the grace of God in blessing him so greatly. He was given great riches and honour, with treasuries for silver, gold, precious stones, spices, shields and many other desirable things; also storehouses for grain, wine and oil, barns for all kinds of livestock and folds for flocks. All of these things are symbolic of the great blessing of the millennial kingdom of the Lord Jesus, yet only a faint picture.
An important project of Hezekiah was his bringing, running water into Jerusalem by a tunnel, the water being diverted from the Upper Gihon River (v.30). This pictures his making available to all the people the truth of the Word of God (the water), so that they might procure it for themselves. How good it is if leaders help others to find blessing in scripture for themselves.
However, in spite of all the good Hezekiah had done, God did not minimise his sad failure in feeding his own pride through unwisely entertaining the princes of Babylon who came, not only to congratulate him on his recovery of health, but to enquire about the wonder of the sun going backward ten degrees (v.31). God had done these things for His own glory, not that attention should be drawn to Hezekiah. But God used this as a test, that Hezekiah might learn something of the evil in his own heart, and which he had not suspected. What a lesson for every believer!
Though Hezekiah had gained fifteen years through his tearful prayer, yet he died. Verse 32 records the fact that other acts of Hezekiah are to be found written in the book of Isaiah and in the book of Kings (2 Kings). He was buried among the honoured kings of Judah in Jerusalem, and all Judah honoured him at his death, a contrast to the burial of his father Ahaz, who was not, buried among the kings (ch.28:37).
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 2 Chronicles 32". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19