HEZEKIAH PT.3
  This is the third and final part of the study on the life of Hezekiah king of Judah, its kinda long so please be patient. When last we saw Hezekiah, he and God's people were in big trouble. The king of Assyria had surrounded Jerusalem and was threatening to destroy it. Whatever would he do? If you just joined us the first two parts of this study as well as all the other studies are in the archives.
  Hezekiah would choose to believe God and his reaction is to go directly to God. This time he doesn't even go through the prophet, which any real prophet will tell you is the purpose of all true prophets. And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 2nd Kings 19:14. He then makes his case before the King of the universe.
  2nd Kings 19: 15-19 And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the Cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God. Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands, And have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them. Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only. (the reason we are still here!)
  This time instead of Hezekiah sending a note to God through Isaiah, God sends a note to Hezekiah through the same route. Verses 20-34 Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, That which thou hast prayed to me against Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard. This is the word that the Lord hath spoken concerning him; The virgin the daughter of Zion hath despised thee, and laughed thee to scorn; the daughter of Jerusalem hath shaken her head at thee. Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed? and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high? even against the Holy One of Israel. By thy messengers thou hast reproached the Lord, and hast said, With the multitude of my chariots I am come up to the height of the mountains, to the sides of Lebanon, and will cut down the tall cedar trees thereof, and the choice fir trees thereof: and I will enter into the lodgings of his borders, and into the forest of his Carmel. I have digged and drunk strange waters, and with the sole of my feet have I dried up all the rivers of besieged places. Hast thou not heard long ago how I have done it, and of ancient times that I have formed it? now have I brought it to pass, that thou shouldest be to lay waste fenced cities into ruinous heaps. Therefore their inhabitants were of small power, they were dismayed and confounded; they were as the grass of the field, and as the green herb, as the grass on the housetops, and as corn blasted before it be grown up. But I know thy abode, and thy going out, and thy coming in, and thy rage against me. Because thy rage against me and thy tumult is come up into mine ears, therefore I will put my hook in thy nose, and my bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way by which thou camest. And this shall be a sign unto thee, Ye shall eat this year such things as grow of themselves, and in the second year that which springeth of the same; and in the third year sow ye, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruits thereof. And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of the Lord of hosts shall do this. Therefore thus saith 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 a bank against it. By the way that he came, by the same shall he return, and shall not come into this city, saith the Lord. For I will defend this city, to save it, for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.
   Ya think the king of Assyria was about to learn the difference between false and real Gods? The portion hi-lighted concerning God putting a hook in the nose to turn this representative of satan away reminds me that another representative of satan will someday get the same hook and be brought down to be destroyed.
  Well it didn't take long for Sennacherib to learn this lesson, it would be the last one he would learn in this life. Verses 35-37 And it came to pass that night, that the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed, and went and returned, and dwelt at Nineveh. And it came to pass, as he was worshipping in the house of Nisroch his god, that Adrammelech and Sharezer his sons smote him with the sword: and they escaped into the land of Armenia. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his stead. The blasphemous king first looses 185,000 solders and returns home, no doubt distressed that his god had let him down. He goes to ask his god about it and his own sons kill him. Is there a worse way to die than to have your own children kill you? It would also be the end of the road for the Assyrian empire. less than 100 years after this the Babylonians would ascend to dominance and the Assyrians would disappear from the worlds stage.
   In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live. 2nd Kings 20:1. Sometime before the conclusion of the episode with Sennacherib Hezekiah had an illness that was usually fatal. The bible says that Hezekiah ruled for 29 years and that the Assyrians attacked Judah in his 14th year and the passage at the end of this chapter says that 15 years were added to his life so this occurred sometime in the 14th year of his life.
   Lets stop here a moment and consider these facts. The first year of Hezekiah's rule he began to clean up the temple and cause the Israelis to repent and return to God. The northern kingdom largely rejected his call but Judah repented and returned, they even removed the alters of worship that were dedicated to false gods. Up to this point in his life there was not a negative statement about him unless you count giving tribute to the Assyrians.
  Consider this statement about him "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 clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses." 2nd Kings 18:5,6. If any of the kings got it right it was this king and yet look at the trouble that came during his reign.
  In fact he only ruled 29 years and died when he was 54. His son Manasseh was probably the most evil king Judah ever had and he ruled for 55 years and lived to be 67 years old. Even though he did repent after the Lord humbled him listen to what is said about him when Jerusalem is finally taken; Surely at the commandment of the Lord came this upon Judah, to remove them out of his sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he did; And also for the innocent blood that he shed: for he filled Jerusalem with innocent
blood; which the Lord would not pardon.
2nd Kings 24:3,4 And you wonder why i tremble at the innocent blood that America is guilty of, but back to the point.
  Many of you are like Hezekiah in that you are calling people to return to God and God's ways. The people of his time like ours believed that they were God's people simply because they were born in the land and what they did made no difference. They expected all the benefits of being God's children yet rejected the responsibilities. You, like Hezekiah, are doing the best you know to do to cause a positive change in the culture you find yourself in and there has been some great successes and great disappointments.
  I remember a few years ago when around a million Christians gathered in Washington to plead with God for the soul of America. I remember how little attention the press gave it and how much attention the same press gives gatherings whose agenda they agree with even though their numbers are far fewer.
   In my home town there is a gathering every Saturday closest to independence day to celebrate freedom with Christian music. The last 2 years there were around 160,000 people there and if you didn't already know about it, you would never know it occurred. The local media practically ignored it. Always one to seek the silver lining in things, i found one in this, i finally understand new math, 2+2 liberals = 1000 and 1000+1000 conservatives = 2.
  My point in all this is that we are not of this world. Jesus said These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. John 15: 17-20
   When you choose God's way you are swimming upstream and most everything around you will pressure you to go with the flow because by swimming upstream you prove it to be possible and they don't want to try. It strips them of the ability to feel comfortable in compromise. It also strips the devils of many of the lies they use to deceive people. Is it any wonder that they both hate Christians who walk the walk. All the more reason we should love one another!
  You, like Hezekiah can do everything right and still it may seem like even God is against you but that is not the case. For Hezekiah this 14th year of his reign must have been like being melted in a crucible that is used to purify gold. The army of the most powerful and the most cruel kingdom on the planet comes knocking on your door and you get an illness which the prophet of God says is fatal, does it get lower than that?
  Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying, I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake. And Isaiah said, Take a lump of figs. And they took and laid it on the boil, and he recovered. 2nd Kings 20:2-7
  You would think that someone coming in and telling you what you had just been doing in private would be enough to convince you but Hezekiah asks for a sign. And Hezekiah said unto Isaiah, What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up into the house of the Lord the third day? And Isaiah said, This sign shalt thou have of the Lord, that the Lord will do the thing that he hath spoken: shall the shadow go forward ten degrees, or go back ten degrees? And Hezekiah answered, It is a light thing for the shadow to go down ten degrees: nay, but let the shadow return backward ten degrees. And Isaiah the prophet cried unto the Lord: and he brought the shadow ten degrees backward, by which it had gone down in the dial of Ahaz. 2nd Kings 20:8-11 Here for the second time God caused the day to be lengthened, the first being in the days of Joshua.
  The writing of Hezekiah king of Judah, when he had been sick, and was recovered of his sickness: I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years. I said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world. Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd's tent: I have cut off like a Weaver my life: he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me. I reckoned till morning, that, as a lion, so will he break all my bones: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me. Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter: I did mourn as a dove: mine eyes fail with looking upward: O Lord, I am oppressed; undertake for me. What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it: I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul. O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live. Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth. The Lord was ready to save me: therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments all the days of our life in the house of the Lord. For Isaiah had said, Let them take a lump of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover. Hezekiah also had said, What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of the Lord? Isaiah 38:9-22
   Even though the Lord delivered Judah from the Assyrians and Hezekiah from disease He still knew the day would come when Jerusalem would fall. In the next verses we are introduced to the people who would take it in due time. 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 glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not. Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon. Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them. Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt 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 thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days. Isaiah chapter 39.
   One wonders what the answer would have been had Hezekiah turned his face to the wall one more time on behalf of his people instead of accepting peace and truth in his time. We will never know but we do know that the purposes of God are sometimes delayed but never denied.
   For the last words on the life of Hezekiah lets turn to 2nd Chronicles 32:27-33 And Hezekiah had exceeding much riches and honour: and he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones, and for spices, and for shields, and for all manner of pleasant jewels; Storehouses also for the increase of corn, and wine, and oil; and stalls for all manner of beasts, and cotes for flocks. Moreover he provided him cities, and possessions of flocks and herds in abundance: for God had given him substance very much. This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works. Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart. Now the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and his goodness, behold, they are written in the vision of Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, and in the book of the kings of Judah and Israel. And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death. And Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.
    Hezekiah lived a dedicated life and though he made mistakes his heart was right before God all his days. It comforts me that even though he saw so much trouble, the Lord delivered him from and through it all. From his first acts his wicked kinsmen mocked and laughed at him. The most fierce army on the planet harassed him and he was healed of a deadly disease. When things start piling up against me i can look at people in the bible like Hezekiah and it helps me stay the course. We know that the Lord is no respecter of persons and through these examples we can know that it is always better to obey no matter what the consequences, and that there is forgiveness if we repent of those times we don't obey.
   Listen to a message that Asa, one of the first kings of Judah got from the Lord And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the Lord thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the Lord, he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars. 2nd Chronicles 16:7-9
  Asa didn't like the lesson and even took it out on the prophet and some of the people he was supposed to serve. Lets look a few verses further along in the story. And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the Lord, but to the physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, and died in the one and fortieth year of his reign. verses 12 and 13. Asa never did learn his lesson and suffered for 2 years until he died by a disease in his feet. I pray that we are wiser than Asa and rely on God alone in our troubled times just as Hezekiah did in his.
  Until next week the Lord bless and keep you and cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace.
This week we finish up the study on King Hezekiah but before we get to that i want to say a few words about the decision to fund research on stem cells using existing stem cell lines. While i am grateful that no new babies will be killed using our money to fund this research, i am profoundly disappointed at the lack of insight in the decision. First of all some of us find this research using humans that did not, could not, give their consent completely reprehensible. To force people who believe this to fund the research to me is akin to forcing religious conversion. Beyond that suppose that some scientist actually comes up with something using these embryonic cells. Do you think that everyone will say "oh isn't that interesting, too bad we can't do further research." It is certain that the hue and cry will be "give us your stem cells!" and anyone opposed to it will be portrayed as an evil hater that doesn't want people to get well. This is the end game of moral relativism. Anything is fair game as long as the ends are to my benefit and this mentality means that NOBODY is exempt. If some of us are willing to kill the most innocent beings among us because it benefits them personally, we do not have much further to fall. Just to remind you, it's not the fall that gets you it's that sudden stop at the end. There is already a study on abortion on my hard drive which will be posted soon so i will go ahead and get to this weeks study but it is with a heavy heart this morning.
8/10/01
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