This next installment of “History Lessons” brings us to a king of Judah named Hezekiah. He is the turnaround king. He finds God’s secret to seeing turnarounds in life, a reversal of the seemingly inevitable that brings him instead to a great future. That secret isn’t so much a secret as we study the eventful reign of King Hezekiah.
Turn arounds; they come by what and whom we choose and reject.
I was never a big, tough guy so if there was a bully around I often became the target if I got noticed. There was this guy in high school who was tough on everybody and anybody that got near him and I got near him a couple of times and was threatened, so I tried to stay away. He ended up in one of my classes where we waited outside the classroom often. I knew it was just a matter of time until I got picked on in some way. It seemed inevitable.
Until something amazing happened. By some means I had helped and become friends with a guy named Mark. We seemed to hit it off really well and ate lunch together, hung out in school. At the time I didn’t really think of it, but Mark was, well, big. He was tall, a country boy, and really strong. The first day of classes we were waiting outside in the hallway where I would have thought it would be inevitable that the bully would target me. Turned out that my new best friend Mark was there too. The bully began, as I suspected he would, to threaten me. To my indescribable joy, Mark intervened. It was the last time that guy ever picked on me. There wasn’t any fight, just a few words and a big guy who was on my side as a friend. It was a complete reversal or turnaround in my high school experience.
King Hezekiah was a turnaround king. He was a turnaround, reversal of fortune kind of guy because of one important principle: turnarounds come by what/whom we choose to align with and what/whom we reject.
A reversal of generations
2 Kings 18:1-8
“Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and 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 who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. He subdued the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.”
Hezekiah chose to reject the inheritance he received from his father and it resulted in a reversal in the areas of worship and culture. He chose to follow David, his great great great great great great great great grandfather, instead of his father Ahaz who led the nation in sin and idolatry.
Hezekiah chose to identify with his forefather David and to do what he would have done.
Verses 4-8 are about how he removed idols and idolatry from the nation, cutting down sacred pillars referred to as wooden poles with carved images of false gods. This included something that God had actually used in the Old Testament but now was worshiped. Nehushtan, the bronze thing, the bronze serpent. In other words, the very things that were instituted in his dad’s day, he removed. Not because they were from the older generation, but because they were offensive to God and in spite of the fact that dad had built them, he removed them.
It was a reversal of generations. Unexpected, illogical. Because Hezekiah chose David and David’s ways, and rejected his father Ahaz and his ways, he was really choosing God and God’s ways.
Turnarounds come by what/whom we choose to align with and what/whom we reject.
A Big Problem reversal
2 Kings 18:13-18
“And in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. Then Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria at Lachish, saying, “I have done wrong; turn away from me; whatever you impose on me I will pay.” And the king of Assyria assessed Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. 15 So Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord and in the treasuries of the king’s house. At this time Hezekiah king of Judah stripped off the gold with which he had covered the doors and doorposts of the temple of the LORD, and gave it to the king of Assyria. Then the king of Assyria sent the Tartan, the Rabsaris, and the Rabshakeh from Lachish, with a great army against Jerusalem, to King Hezekiah. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. When they had come up, they went and stood by the aqueduct from the upper pool, which was on the highway to the Fuller’s Field. And when they had called to the king, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph, the recorder, came out to them.”
In other words, it didn’t stop the inevitable to appease the enemy. It’s costly. The enemy persists, even though. Hezekiah eventually rejects trying to please the enemy and chooses God and trusts in God.
Hezekiah this time does what he needs to do. He seeks the Lord. Through the prophet Isaiah. And through his prayers.
2 Kings 19:1-5
“And so it was, when King Hezekiah heard it, that he tore his clothes, covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. Then he sent Eliakim, who was over the household, Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz. And they said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah: ‘This day is a day of trouble, and rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the Lord your God will hear all the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the Lord your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’” So the servants of King Hezekiah came to Isaiah.”
God promises to defeat the Assyrians (verses 6 & 7), but then the enemy sends a letter with the same threats he had declared before.
2 Kings 19:14 “He spread it out before the Lord in the sanctuary. There’s really only one that is bigger than your enemies, and that’s the Lord.”
2 Kings 19:35-37 The Lord arranged for the wiping out of the Assyrians.
“And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the Lord went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses—all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh. Now it came to pass, as he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch his god, that his sons Adrammelech and Sharezer struck him down with the sword; and they escaped into the land of Ararat. Then Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.”
Turnarounds come by what/whom we choose to align with and what/whom we reject.
Reversing the present difficult situation, changing or delaying the inevitable, comes from that one principle. The sooner we realize that, the better.
What else did Hezekiah see reversed or delayed in his day?
He was given a diagnosis of a terminal illness. He was even told by a word of prophecy that he would die. But he appealed to God and God delayed the inevitable; he lived for 15 more years.
Then there was a situation that occurred after he had recovered from his illness that should have brought immediate difficulties. Hezekiah had wrongful motives in showing off his treasuries to some visiting Babylonians, whom he was thinking would make good allies. God called him on it, through Isaiah the prophet and he quickly humbled himself when he found he was wrong. God delayed the inevitable, the captivity of the nation by Babylon, until another generation after Hezekiah had passed.
Do you need a turnaround in your life? Are you thinking about the way your path is leading and the inevitable destination isn’t so great? Are you thinking about the problems your family has, and had, will follow you; “Can I ever get away from that and still love them”?
It’s going to involve rejecting someone and/or something in favor of embracing God, faith in God and the people of God.
Who/what do you need to leave behind and put up a fence of separation between you/that/them?
How will you embrace God, God’s Word, and God’s people instead?
It may not be easy but the result is a complete turnaround, a reversal of what should’ve been to what should be.