The Tragic Sin of Good King Hezekiah

2 Kings

The Tragic Sin of Good King Hezekiah

March 4th, 1962 @ 7:30 PM

2 Kings 18-20

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 brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto 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 clave to the LORD, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses. And the LORD was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not. He smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city. 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. Now in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah did Sennacherib king of Assyria come up against all the fenced cities of Judah, and took them. And Hezekiah king of Judah sent to the king of Assyria to Lachish, saying, I have offended; return from me: that which thou puttest on me will I bear. And the king of Assyria appointed unto Hezekiah king of Judah three hundred talents of silver and thirty talents of gold. And Hezekiah gave him all the silver that was found in the house of the LORD, and in the treasures of the king’s house. At that time did Hezekiah cut off the gold from the doors of the temple of the LORD, and from the pillars which Hezekiah king of Judah had overlaid, and gave it to the king of Assyria. And the king of Assyria sent Tartan and Rabsaris and Rabshakeh from Lachish to king Hezekiah with a great host against Jerusalem. And they went up and came to Jerusalem. And when they were come up, they came and stood by the conduit of the upper pool, which is in the highway of the fuller’s field. And when they had called to the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder. And Rabshakeh said unto them, Speak ye now to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this wherein thou trustest? Thou sayest, (but they are but vain words,) I have counsel and strength for the war. Now on whom dost thou trust, that thou rebellest against me? Now, behold, thou trustest upon the staff of this bruised reed, even upon Egypt, on which if a man lean, it will go into his hand, and pierce it: so is Pharaoh king of Egypt unto all that trust on him. But if ye say unto me, We trust in the LORD our God: is not that he, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath taken away, and hath said to Judah and Jerusalem, Ye shall worship before this altar in Jerusalem? Now therefore, I pray thee, give pledges to my lord the king of Assyria, and I will deliver thee two thousand horses, if thou be able on thy part to set riders upon them. How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my master’s servants, and put thy trust on Egypt for chariots and for horsemen? Am I now come up without the LORD against this place to destroy it? The LORD said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it. Then said Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and Shebna, and Joah, unto Rabshakeh, Speak, I pray thee, to thy servants in the Syrian language; for we understand it: and talk not with us in the Jews’ language in the ears of the people that are on the wall. But Rabshakeh said unto them, Hath my master sent me to thy master, and to thee, to speak these words? hath he not sent me to the men which sit on the wall, that they may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss with you? Then Rabshakeh stood and cried with a loud voice in the Jews’ language, and spake, saying, Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria: Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you: for he shall not be able to deliver you out of his hand: Neither let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD, saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and then eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern: Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of corn and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of oil olive and of honey, that ye may live, and not die: and hearken not unto Hezekiah, when he persuadeth you, saying, The LORD will deliver us. Hath any of the gods of the nations delivered at all his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? have they delivered Samaria out of mine hand? Who are they among all the gods of the countries, that have delivered their country out of mine hand, that the LORD should deliver Jerusalem out of mine hand? But the people held their peace, and answered him not a word: for the king’s commandment was, saying, Answer him not. Then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rabshakeh. And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the LORD. And he sent Eliakim, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. It may be the LORD thy God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the LORD thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left. So the servants of king Hezekiah came to Isaiah. And Isaiah said unto them, Thus shall ye say to your master, Thus saith the LORD, Be not afraid of the words which thou hast heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have blasphemed me. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour, and shall return to his own land; and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land. So Rabshakeh returned, and found the king of Assyria warring against Libnah: for he had heard that he was departed from Lachish. And when he heard say of Tirhakah king of Ethiopia, Behold, he is come out to fight against thee: he sent messengers again unto Hezekiah, saying, Thus shall ye speak to Hezekiah king of Judah, saying, Let not thy God in whom thou trustest deceive thee, saying, Jerusalem shall not be delivered into the hand of the king of Assyria. Behold, thou hast heard what the kings of Assyria have done to all lands, by destroying them utterly: and shalt thou be delivered? Have the gods of the nations delivered them which my fathers have destroyed; as Gozan, and Haran, and Rezeph, and the children of Eden which were in Thelasar? Where is the king of Hamath, and the king of Arpad, and the king of the city of Sepharvaim, of Hena, and Ivah? 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. At that time Berodachbaladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah: for he had heard that Hezekiah had been sick. And Hezekiah hearkened unto them, and shewed them all 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, even from Babylon. And he said, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All the things that are in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them. And Isaiah said unto Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD. Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store unto this day, shall be carried into 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 unto Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. And he said, Is it not good, if peace and truth be in my days? And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah? And Hezekiah slept with his fathers: and Manasseh his son reigned in his stead.
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THE TRAGIC SIN OF GOOD KING HEZEKIAH

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Kings 18-20

3-4-62    7:30 p.m.

 

 

In our Bibles we turn to 2 Kings chapter 18; 2 Kings chapter 18.  The sermon tonight is on The Tragic Sin of Good King Hezekiah.  Before him there was not a king like him; after him there was not a king like him [2 Kings 18:5].  He was the best, the most devout, the finest of all of the kings of Judah.  Yet there overtook him and overwhelmed him a sin that destroyed his house and his people.

It is like a white, white, white garment.  If a man is dressed in rags and he is filthy and he is dirty, for there to be another stain on those unclean garments is nothing at all.  You do not notice it; he is dirty and filthy already.  But if a man is dressed in spotless white, just one speck of filth or of dirt spoils the beauty of the garment.

You find such a thing in the life of Moses.  Surely, surely, if ever there lived a servant of God described as a man who talked to God face to face, as one would commune with his friend [Exodus 33:11]; if there ever was a man close to God, it was Moses.  Yet he was interdicted from entering into the Promised Land because of a sin [Numbers 20:7-12]; a sin, one of an impetuous and volitive spirit, and disobeying the command of God; never entered in the flesh, never entered the land of promise [Deuteronomy 3:23-27, 34:4-7].

Now, this is King Hezekiah.  And what a lesson, what a sermon, what an appeal is in this!  And what an astonishing thing!  I do not know why I never saw it before, never knew it before, never heard of it before, until I prepared this sermon for tonight.  Now we’re going to read the first seven verses, which is an introduction into the life of good King Hezekiah.  There is a word in there, "Nehushtan."  And when you come to it, just say, "Nehushtan," and go right on and read.

All right, first seven verses of 2 Kings chapter 18:

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 brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto 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 clave to the Lord, and departed not from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses.

And the Lord was with him; and he prospered whithersoever he went forth: and he rebelled against the king of Assyria, and served him not.

[2 Kings 18:1-7]

 

Now this is just the introduction to the life of Hezekiah.  And you will find the story in 2 Kings 18, 19, and 20.  And you will find the story in 2 Chronicles 29-32.

Now, following through in the eighteenth chapter of the Book of 2 Kings, in verse 11: "And the king of Assyria carried away Israel" [2 Kings 18:11].  Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it.  And at the end of three years they took it . . . And the king of Assyria carried away Israel" [2 Kings 18:9-11], carted them out like so much bulk, like so much hundred weight, like so many tons of rubbish.

And that’s what God does with any nation.  That’s what God does with any people.  When their hearts refuse to be sanctuaries of the Holy Spirit of God [1 Corinthians 6:19-20], and when men lose their fire and their devotion and their spirit, and when a nation turns against God, then they are carted out, and hauled off, and dumped on the ash heap like so much rubbish.  All you have to do is to read in the histories of the world to find that nation after nation has been dumped on the ash heap of God’s derelicts.

So it is with Samaria, with Ahab for their king and Jezebel for their queen, and the prophets of Baal as their teachers, rebelling against God, and forgetting God, and giving their hearts to idolatry and iniquity, God finally said, "It is enough."  And in 722 BC, Sargon the king, who subverted Shalmaneser – Sargon carted them off [2 Kings 18:11-12] and carried them away and dumped them out, like God does all of the nations of the earth that forget Him.  Then Sennacherib, who is the son of Sargon and the successor of that great and mighty and bitter Assyrian monarch – Sennacherib, who was himself an able and mighty general – [Sennacherib] turned his torch to burn up Judah [2 Kings 18:13], just as his father Sargon had destroyed Samaria.

But, but, when he came down to Judah, and when he besieged Jerusalem, he came into an altogether different part of the earth, and he met an altogether different kind of a king.  For Hezekiah, the best king that Judah ever had – Hezekiah was the reigning monarch when Sennacherib came to shut him up and to destroy him by thirst and by famine and by blood [2 Kings 18:13].

Now I want to show you what kind of a king Hezekiah was.  He was twenty-five years old when he began to reign [2 Kings 18:2].  And now we’re going to follow through for just a moment the presentation of this monarch as you find it in 2 Chronicles in chapters 29 and following.  Hezekiah came to the throne following a wicked father [2 Chronicles 28:22-27].  Isn’t that a strange thing?  Once in a while you’ll find a vile and worldly home give birth to one of the finest and most spiritual sons you could ever meet.  You meet that every once in a while – a boy, a girl, devout and holy and consecrated, who loves God, who is reared in a vile and a wicked and a worldly home.

Hezekiah was that.  His father Ahaz was about as wicked a king as Judah ever had on the throne.  Now when he was five and twenty years of age, this young man, he assumed the reins of government upon the death of his father [2 Chronicles 29:1].  And the first thing he did, described here in the twenty-ninth chapter, he gathered all of the Levites, and he gathered all of the priests, and he said, "See those great doors on the temple?  They have been destroyed, and then the temple is closed and locked.  Let us take those doors and remake them, and let us clean out the filth and the rubbish and the debris in the temple, and let us sanctify its instruments, and let us consecrate its altar, and let us love God.  Let us worship the Lord" [2 Chronicles 29:3-19].

So he gathered together the priests and he gathered together the Levites, and they consecrated the temple again to the Lord God.  They repaired its breaches and its walls, and they repaired its doors and its altars, and they polished and cleaned up all of its instruments [2 Chronicles 29:3-19].  "And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began."  Wouldn’t that be a good text for you?  What a beautiful thing; 2 Chronicles 29:27:  "And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also,  And all the congregation worshipped.  And the singers sang, and the trumpeters sounded.  And all this continued while the people were offering up unto God" [2 Chronicles 29:28].  What a marvelous thing!  There never was a real religion that didn’t have real singing in it.  If you can’t sing, you can make a joyful noise unto the Lord, just like it says in the Book [Psalm 100:1], just like it says in the Book.  You can call people out of the congregation who have no idea they’re going to sing – you can call them out of the congregation and let them sing unto the Lord.  I wish he would try that on some of you.  Wouldn’t that be interesting?  Wouldn’t it be interesting?

That’s the kind of religion we’ve got: it overflows; it abounds; it’s ebullient; it has life in it.  Whenever you go to church and it’s a dead service, that’s an affront to God.  He is not pleased in our deadness and our lifelessness.  God is honored when people are glad, and their hearts overflow, and they praise the Lord, just like they did here in the days of Hezekiah [2 Chronicles 29:29-30].  And the burnt offerings were in abundance [2 Chronicles 29:35].  "So the service of the house of the Lord was set in order.  And Hezekiah rejoiced, and all the people" [2 Chronicles 29:35-36].  And God sent them away, marvelously happy in their souls.

Now that’s chapter 29; now chapter 30.  And you have in 2 Chronicles chapter 30 the same kind of a gladness and a happiness.  And Hezekiah sent letters all up and down the land [2 Chronicles 30:1].  And up there in Samaria you just had the poor of the land that were left.  The tribes of Zebulun, the tribes of Ephraim, and the tribes of Manasseh – all those people had been carted off, but there were some up there.  And Hezekiah sends letters to them.  And in those letters he said: "Ye children of Israel up there, turn again to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and He will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of hand of the kings of Assyria" [2 Chronicles30:6].  "If you will turn to the Lord, God will bless you up there, even though Sargon has destroyed your nation.  Turn; turn" [2 Chronicles 30:6-9].

And they laughed them to scorn [2 Chronicles 30:10].   Isn’t that an amazing thing?  And they laughed them to scorn and mocked them – the invitation of Hezekiah to come back to God, just like they do today.  You go out there on the street corner.  You go out there where wicked men are, and you call them unto God.  And nine-tenths of them will mock, and laugh, and pass by, and go on, just like they did.  People don’t change.

But Hezekiah had it in his soul, and he had it in his heart, and he pressed them, and some of them respond, just like it is today.  Don’t you ever worry, any young fellow who is preaching the gospel, wherever you are; you be faithful and deliver the Word of God and your soul, and God will give you somebody always.  There will be somebody hear you preach, and there will be somebody saved.

And there was somebody up there even in Zebulun and in Manasseh and Ephraim [2 Chronicles 30:10].  In that country that Sargon had destroyed there were some of them who responded [2 Chronicles 30:11-14].  And they came, and they observed the Passover.  For the first time in generations, they observed the Passover [2 Chronicles 30:15-25].  And "there was great joy in Jerusalem: for since the time of Solomon the son of David king of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem" [2 chronicles 30:26].  And he started all of that work over again.  How remarkable is this man Hezekiah!

And in the thirty-first chapter – and I haven’t time, we’re going to take up our time just following the works of this good man – and in the thirty-first chapter, the same thing.  And it closes the thirty-first chapter:

 

Thus did Hezekiah throughout all Judah, and wrought that which was good and right and truth before the Lord his God. 

And in every work that he began in the service of the house of the Lord, and in the law, and in the commandments, to seek his Lord, he did it with all of his heart, and God prospered it.

[2 Chronicles 31:21]

 

No wonder they say there never was a king like that – never was a king like that [2 Kings 18:5].  Everything that he did, he did with his whole soul and his whole heart.  He poured everything, everything – poured himself into it.  Now, it was that kind of a man, and it was that kind of a people who were looking to God and who were trusting God.  It was that kind of a ruler when Sennacherib, having with his father destroyed Samaria – when Sennacherib came back to put the torch to Jerusalem and to Judah.

So in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came up against the fortified cities of Jerusalem [2 Kings 18:13].  And he shut up the king, and he shut up his people in the fortifications of that city.  And then he sent his Rabshakeh [2 Kings 18:17].  And oh, an eloquent man, this Rabshakeh.  He sent his Rabshakeh; he sent his spokesman.  And the spokesman stood there by the gate, stood there by the wall of the city of Jerusalem, and he mocked God, and he did it eloquently [2 Kings 18:19-35].

You know, that’s quite a gift, ridicule and mockery.  He stood there by the gate, and he stood there by the wall, and he mocked Almighty God.  And he made fun of Hezekiah.  And he made fun of Hezekiah’s God.  And he made fun of Hezekiah’s religion.  And he made fun of Hezekiah’s religion.  And finally Eliakim the son of Hilkiah said to him: "Speak to us in the Syrian language, because we can understand the Syrian language.  But do not speak to us in the Jews’ [language], for the people can hear you" [2 Kings 18:26].   And Rabshakeh laughed to scorn and said, "That is why I am standing here.  I want all the people of Jerusalem to know I have contempt for your God.  Didn’t we meet Him up there in Samaria?  And didn’t we crowd Him, didn’t we crush Him, didn’t we push Him around, didn’t we carry off His people into captivity, just like we’re going to carry you off?"  So Rabshakeh makes fun of the Lord God of Israel and Hezekiah His servant.

And then I turn the page.  And in the next chapter, and in the next chapter, Sennacherib sends a letter to Hezekiah, sends a letter to Hezekiah [2 Kings 19:8-14].  And Sennacherib says in that letter, "That little old God that you worship, whose name I never heard of, how is He going to deliver you when the gods of Hamath, and the gods of Sepharvaim, and the gods of Samaria, and all the other gods of all the nations of the earth, they haven’t delivered their people? [2 Kings 19:11-13; Isaiah 37:10-14].  Nor will your little unnamable God forgive you.  Now I’m going to cart you off," he says, "to a better land.  And I’m going to give you a finer Canaan.  And I’m going to take you away from the inheritance of your father.  And I’m going to give you another god to worship, and another temple full of beautiful idols in which to call on the name of other gods."

"And if you don’t," says Sennacherib, and then he writes words that I can’t read out in public here.  Oh, the dirt and the filth and the viciousness of those ungodly and merciless kings!  And what did Hezekiah do?  Hezekiah rent his clothes, and he put on sackcloth, and he took the letter.

Now, look in the fourteenth verse of the nineteenth chapter of 2 Kings:

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 God. 

And Hezekiah prayed . . . O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubim –

remember when I preached on that, the God that dwells between the cherubim? –

 

O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubim . . .

O Lord, bow down Thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, Thine eyes and see. 

O God, I beseech Thee, save Thou us out of his hand, that all the kings of the earth may know that Thou art the Lord God, and Thou only, O God, O God.

[2 Kings 19:14-16, 19]

 

Now look at the next verse, verse 20: "Then Isaiah the son of Amoz," the prophet of the Lord, God’s preacher, God’s messenger, God’s prophet – "and Isaiah the son of Amoz," the prophet of God, "came to Hezekiah and said, Thus saith the Lord God" [2 Kings 19:20].  And I haven’t time to follow it all.  Let’s get to the end of the chapter.

The Lord said, "I am going to send just one of My angels, just one of them.  Sennacherib, down there talking and boasting, he says he is able to handle ten thousand of My angels.  That’s Sennacherib.  Well, let’s see what he can do with just one of My angels, just one of them, in his boasting, and in his lifting up and proud spirit, and in his blasphemy to God.  I’m just going to send one of My angels.  And let’s see what Sennacherib can do with one of My angels."  And that angel came down – this is verse 35 – that angel came down that night, and with an invisible scimitar he cut down 185,000.  And then early in the morning, when they awoke, they were all dead corpses [2 Kings 19:35].

 "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" [Hebrews 10:31].  And Sennacherib turned in despair.  And when he got home, his own son slew him [2 Kings 20:2] in answer to the prayer of Hezekiah [2 Kings 19:15-19].  All right, how good the Lord is to Hezekiah!  And look at the next chapter, chapter 20: "In those days Hezekiah was sick unto death.  And the prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz," the prophet Isaiah, "came to him, and said, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; you are going to die, and you are not going to live"  [2 Kings 20:1].

 And Hezekiah turned his face to the wall, and prayed and wept before the Lord [2 Kings 20:2].  And before Isaiah got out of the court of the king’s palace, the Lord said to His prophet [2 Kings 20:4], "Come here.  Come here.  Come here.  Come here.  I want you to look at the king.  I want you to look at him.  He has got his face to the wall.  Look at the tears rolling down his cheeks.  And listen to him pray.  That is My man.  That is My king.  Now Isaiah, you tell him I have changed My mind, I am going to give him fifteen more years – fifteen more years."  "I will add fifteen years unto thy days" [2 Kings 20:5-6].

You know, that is a remarkable thing.  How many of you have any assurance you’re going to be alive tomorrow?  How many of you?  How many of you have a lease on life for even eighteen hours?  How many of you know that you won’t be in the presence of God twelve hours from now?  Is there any man you ever saw in your life that had a mortgage on life?  Did you?  Look how good God is to Hezekiah – fifteen years, fifteen years.  That’s a remarkable thing.  And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "What sign, what sign would I have that I am going to have fifteen more years?" [2 Kings 20:8].

And Isaiah the prophet said to Hezekiah, "Well, I will give you a sign.  God will give you a sign" [2 Kings 20:9].  And out there in the courtyard, where the sick Hezekiah could see it, there were stairs up and stairs down, and they were called the Dial of Ahaz, or the Steps of Ahaz.  And there was a column in the middle of it.  And when the sun shone, it started at the first of those steps and went up to noonday.  Then it started down the steps, and went down to evening and twilight.

And Isaiah, the prophet of the Lord God, said, "You say you want a sign that God gives fifteen years to your life?  All right, you tell me, you see the shadow on those Steps of Ahaz, on the Dial of Ahaz?  Which would you like to do?  Would you like to see that shadow go up or go back?  Which would you like?" [2 Kings 20:9].

And Hezekiah said, "Well, for the shadow to go on will be the natural thing for a shadow to do.  Let the sign be that it go back ten degrees on the sundial, on the Steps of Ahaz" [from 2 Kings 20:10].  That’s a small thing for God, small thing.  And as Hezekiah looked, the shadow on the sundial went back ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one!  What an astonishing thing! 

I’m not done; there is one other thing about Hezekiah, what God did for him.  Now this you will find in the thirty-second chapter of the Book of 2 Chronicles, beginning in verse 27:

And Hezekiah had exceeding much riches and honor: and he made himself treasuries for silver, and for gold, and for precious stones . . .

Storehouses for the increase . . . and stalls for all manner . . .

For God had given him abundance very much, very much.

[2 Chronicles 32:27-29]

 

Can you imagine how God blessed and prospered this incomparably fine and marvelous king?  All right, now for the tragedy of his life: if you want to put your fingers where you can follow this, you’ll have to put your fingers at 2 Kings chapter 20 and at 2 Chronicles chapter 32.  Now, that’s the message of the Book.  All right, "At that time" – this is 2 Kings chapter 20, verse 12: "At that time Merodach-baladan" – or Berodach-baladan; almost certainly it was Merodach-baladan – "the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present unto Hezekiah: for he heard that Hezekiah had been sick.  And Hezekiah hearkened unto them" [2 Kings 20:12, 13].  That’s the way it is written here in the King James Version:  "And Hezekiah hearkened unto them."  These were the ambassadors from the king of Babylon.

Now, this man Merodach-baladan had just cast off the Assyrian yoke, and Babylon was just a little, tiny kingdom beginning to come up.  As you know, it followed the great kingdom of Assyria itself; Babylon itself, one of the great empires of all time.  But this is just the beginning, and this is early 700 BC.

And this king, Merodach-baladan, was the king of that tiny kingdom down there whose capital was Babylon.  And they had thrown off the Assyrian yoke, and Merodach-baladan was seeking allies, and he was seeking friends in order to be able to withstand the awful pressure of those bitter and ruthless Assyrians from Nineveh.  So he sends ambassadors, he sends ambassadors to Hezekiah, the king of Judah [2 Kings 20:12-13].

Now, I want you to see why it is that he sent those ambassadors.  In 2 Chronicles 32:31: "The ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him," Hezekiah, "to inquire of the wonder that was done in the land."  Listen, everybody was talking about Hezekiah – everybody.  His name was on the lips; his name was on the tongue and the mouth of everybody who knew anything at all – Hezekiah.  And that king over there in Babylon had sent these ambassadors in order to find out from Hezekiah about those marvelous wonders that had come to pass in the land of Judah.  Well, what wonders?  Those that I have just been telling you about.

Why, in the land of Judah Sennacherib’s army, the most ruthless and the most invincible army of that then-known day – Sennacherib’s army had melted away like a snow, poured upon by rain from heaven [2 Kings 19:35].  That had happened in the land of Judah.  And this Merodach-baladan thought Hezekiah had done that, thought Hezekiah had destroyed that army.  And he sent ambassadors there to find out how it was that the king of Judah could destroy so invincible and merciless a foe.

All right, another wonder he wanted to find out about – those Babylonians, as you know, have always been interested in astronomy, in the movement of the heavenly bodies.  And that marvelous miracle of God, why, it was an astonishing thing – and they heard that God had done that just for Hezekiah.  And they sent over there to find out.  And they’d heard about his riches.  And they’d heard about how he was miraculously cured.  And those ambassadors from Babylon came to see Hezekiah.

Now, that thirteenth verse: "And Hezekiah hearkened unto them . . ." [2 Kings 20:13].   What that really means is this: and when they came, Hezekiah was complimented.  Oh, it made him proud!  "Look who has come to call on me!"

And now look at this thirty-second chapter of the Book of 2 Chronicles and the twenty-fifth verse.  Now look: "But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him: for his heart was lifted up: therefore was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and on Jerusalem" [2 Chronicles 32:25].  Oh, I can’t believe that such a thing could have ever happened!

And Isaiah the son of Amoz, God’s prophet, sent to King Hezekiah, and said: "Who are these men and from whence do they come?  And Hezekiah said, These men are the ambassadors of the king of Babylon" [2 Kings 20:14].  They have come to see me."  And [Isaiah] said: "And what did you say to them?  And what have they seen in thine house?" [2 Kings 20:15].

Was Hezekiah able to send back word to the prophet Isaiah, "They have seen in my house the glory of God?  And they have heard from my lips words of praise and reverence and thanksgiving unto God.  And I have sent the ambassadors of Babylon back home to tell their king there is no God like our God, and there is no victory like the victory He gives His people.  And there is no loving care and shepherdly remembrance like the remembrance of our great God"; did he say that?

Why, that man Hezekiah, God had prospered him, and God had blessed him, and God had enriched him, and God had saved him, and God had delivered him, and God had given him the whole world, apparently, in his arms.  And Hezekiah’s heart was lifted up.  And he walked through his grounds, and he walked through his palace, and he said, "Look.  Look.  I am the greatest man in the world.  I thank God I am not like other men."  And his heart was lifted up [2 Chronicles 32:25], and his heart was proud [2 Kings 20:13; 2 chronicles 32:27-31].

And when those ambassadors came from Babylon, Hezekiah gave them the impression that it was he, Hezekiah, who had done those marvelous things.  For his benefit, the very stars in their courses were changed and the sun went back [2 Kings 20:8-11] – for his benefit.  And look what his acumen and astuteness and wisdom had brought into the kingdom; riches beyond compare.  And his genius and might had delivered the country and had annihilated the Assyrians [2 Kings 19:32-35].  His heart was lifted up [2 chronicles 32:25].

And when those people, those ambassadors, came from Babylon to see him, he was complimented.  "Look at those worldly people seeking my words of wisdom.  And look at these high and affluent and famous people calling upon me.  Look, look, look!"

You know, it seems to me I’ve read that before.  Oh, don’t you remember?  O Lucifer!  O Lucifer!  In the fourteenth chapter of that prophet Isaiah: "O Lucifer, son of the morning . . . thou hast said in thine heart, I,"  [Isaiah 14:12-13].  Seems like I read that before.  In the twenty-eighth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel:  "Thine heart was lifted up because of thy glory and thy beauty" [Ezekiel 28:17].  And that happened to good King Hezekiah; proud, vainglorious, as though he had wrought it, and he had done it, and he had achieved it; Hezekiah, proud and lifted up [2 Chronicles 32:25].

And the Lord God said to Isaiah, "Go tell him.  Go tell him.  Go tell him.  He is the last man in this earth that I ever thought would be lifted up and proud.  But go tell him that the day is going to come when every treasure he has" – and wouldn’t that be normal?  When the king of Babylon heard of the mighty store of riches that were in Jerusalem, first thing he did was to run it down and to make plans to destroy it, to carry it away, to take it.

"Go tell him," said the Lord God to Isaiah, "go tell him that the day will come when all these treasures will be carried into Babylon, and when all these people will be carried into Babylon, and when thy very sons shall be eunuchs to the kings in the palaces of Babylon" [2 Kings 20:17-18].

Pride, pride – I preach way too long.  Pride – listen, listen!  I have people who love God, who believe in us and this message and this church.  And I ask them, "Why don’t you come down that aisle?  And why don’t you serve God in our midst?"  And they say, "We don’t want to go down that aisle and be baptized" – proud, proud.  I guess it is, though I don’t understand it – I guess it is a humbling experience for a family to come down that aisle and to say, "Preacher, we want to be baptized just like it is in the Book [Matthew 28:19], just like Jesus was" [Matthew 3:13-17].  So full of pride, full of pride, they don’t come, and they stay away, and they stay out just because in their hearts they can’t humble themselves even to follow Jesus in baptism.

Every once in a while I meet people who won’t come down that aisle simply because they don’t want to stand in the presence of the congregation and give themselves openly and publicly to the Lord and to us – proud, proud, proud.  And in how many ways are people caught in the enmeshing world because the world compliments them?  They’re gifted, they’re talented, and the world makes a bid for them, and they are proud.  Oh, you can cry your heart out!

Here is a young fellow.  Here is a young girl.  And they love God.  And they’ve been saved.  And they’ve been regenerated and have been born again.  And they’re devout Christians, but they’re also gifted and able and talented and the world bids for them, and they are complimented by the world.  And away they go.  They’re proud that the world takes notice of them, and that they’re invited to these things, and that they share, and that all of those things are said.

Proud – they like it.  And pretty soon the humble ways of the Lord – to bow in prayer, to come to church, to work in a Training Union, to be in a Sunday School – that’s passé, that’s out.  We are now in the hilarious light of the glorious kingdom of Babylon – proud, and like it.

Oh, Hezekiah!  God will give you everything in the world, everything, all that you need, God will do it for you.  Just remember; just remember to stay humble in His sight – oh, oh, to bow in His presence, to call upon His name [John 14:6; Acts 4:12], humbly to live your life, to do His will.  These things may be humbling to God’s children, to stand before a congregation and confess your faith [Romans 10:9-10], to be baptized as the Lord commands in His Book [Matthew 28:19], to be a humble, faithful, devout member of a church.  Those things may be humbling things, but they are godly things, and they build the soul, and they build the life, and they build the heart, and they build the destiny of a nation.   God will preserve a people that will stay humble in His presence, and God will save a soul that will call upon Him [Romans 10:13]. 

And that’s the invitation the Holy Spirit makes to your heart tonight.  Somebody you, into that aisle and down here to the front, confessing humbly your need of God and your faith in Jesus [Ephesians 2:8], "And here I am, preacher, and here I come."

While we sing this invitation hymn, that somebody you, make it tonight.  Make it tonight.  Make it now.  A family to come, a youth, a child, a couple you, as God shall lay upon your heart the appeal, as God shall press this invitation, on the first note of the first stanza, "Here I come, preacher.  I give you my hand.  I give my heart to God.  Here I am, and here I come."  Or a couple, or a family, or a child, as God shall say the word and open the door and make the way, make it tonight.  "Here I come.  Here I am."  On this first note of that first stanza, "I am deciding now, preacher.  And when I stand up, I am standing up to come, and here I am."  Make it, do it tonight, while we stand and while we sing.

THE TRAGIC SIN OF GOOD KING HEZEKIAH

Dr. W. A. Criswell

2 Kings 18-20

3-4-62

 

I.              Time of Hezekiah

1.    Israel taken out Sargon, king of Assyria

2.    Judah besieged by Sennacherib, new king of Assyria

II.            Hezekiah

1.    Re-established biblical worship in the temple

2.    Encouraged the remnant left in the northern kingdom to turn to God

3.    Passover observed for the first time in generations

III.           Sennacherib invasion

1.    Rabshakeh from Assyria taunts the people, blasphemes God

2.    Hezekiah goes to the temple and bows before the Living God

3.    God sends one angel to destroy the Assyrian army, ending the siege

IV.          Prophesy of Hezekiah’s death

1.    Isaiah tells Hezekiah that he will die and not live

2.    Hezekiah cries before God and is given fifteen more years

3.    God increased Hezekiah’s wealth

V.           Hezekiah’s arrogance

1.    Babylon visits to see Judah’s splendor

2.    Hezekiah took credit for the blessings from God

3.    Isaiah tells Hezekiah that all Judah’s treasure will be carried away