Lesson 14 - Hezekiah: King in Crisis - 2 Kings 18-19; Isaiah 36-37
ID: Inductive Questions (Asking the text questions like who, what, where, when, why, & how?”)
CR: Cross References (Comparing Scripture to Scripture, understanding the vague by the clear.)
WS: Word Study (Understanding definition, theological meaning, and usages in other passages.)
The WORD: What does the Bible say?
Context: Fourteen years into Hezekiah”s rule the advancing Assyrian Empire brought a crisis of epic proportions to Hezekiah and Jerusalem. The harrowing challenge and desperate faith of Hezekiah are recorded in 2 Kings 18-19; Isaiah 36-37. We suggest you read 2 Kings 18 and Isaiah 36 first and then 2 Kings 19 and Isaiah 37 second. (There is a shorter account in 2 Chronicles 32:1-23.)
1. ID: (2 Kings 18:7; 2 Chronicles 32:1-8) Why did Assyria invade Judah? What things did Hezekiah do to prepare for the invasion by Sennacherib?
2. ID: (2 Kings 18:22, 24-25; 31-35) What arguments did Rabshakeh make for why the LORD would not deliver them?
3. ID: (2 Kings 18:36-19:2) What was the response to Rabshakeh’s threats?
4. ID: (2 Kings 19:14-19) Study Hezekiah’s prayer. What were the main points of his appeal to the Lord for help?
5. ID: (2 Kings 19:20-26) What questions did God ask Assyria through Isaiah’s prophecy? What was the point(s) He was making with those questions?
6. WS: (2 Kings 19:22, 31) What special names did Isaiah use for God? How were those names for God especially meaningful in their context here?
The WALK: What should I do?
1. 2 Kings 18:6 says that Hezekiah “held fast to the Lord: he did not depart from Him.” What have you learned from Hezekiah’s life about holding fast during difficult times?
2. In 2 Kings 18:21/Isaiah 36:6 Rabshakeh told Jerusalem that it was futile to trust in Egypt. What are things we depend on for our security (a job, retirement account, connections)? Can we depend on these AND trust the Lord? How?
3. Have you ever been in a situation where only intervention by the Lord could help? Did you pray? Who was able to offer you encouragement and hope?
4. A large part of Hezekiah’s prayer was based on the Lord’s reputation. Does your life ever put God’s reputation at stake (for better or worse)?
Food for thought:
Most commentators have concluded that Hezekiah’s sickness, healing, and visit by the Babylonian emissaries, grouped thematically in Isaiah 38-39, probably occurred before the Assyrian invasion of Judah. Did you observe any indications in your reading for this week that the promise in Isaiah 38.5-6 affected Hezekiah’s actions during the invasion and siege of Jerusalem?
The pressure Hezekiah was under must have been almost overwhelming. Biblical Training website has a 2,200 word article, “Hezekiah,” that gives many helpful insights into the geopolitical pressures on Judah and Hezekiah. It also includes the entry about Hezekiah from the 1915 edition of the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
If you have an interest in ancient history, HistoryNet has a fascinating 3,300 word article, “Assyrian March Against Judah,” (originally published by Military History magazine) that puts this event in its larger historical context. Here is an excerpt.
“Judah's importance to Assyria was geographic — it was located between Phoenicia and Philistia. The kingdom itself was of negligible value, but the Assyrians believed that their gods had given them a mission to conquer the world. In defying that mission and challenging Assyrian pride, King Hezekiah too would have to be made an example.
Hezekiah's decision to revolt seems strange because in the process of wreaking havoc on Israel, Tiglath-Pileser III had saved Hezekiah's father, King Ahaz, from certain doom. When the kings of Aram and Israel allied against Judah, Ahaz had sent for help, paying Tiglath-Pileser for his aid. As the Hebrew Bible goes on to tell it — and Assyrian records confirm — Tiglath-Pileser swooped down on Judah's enemies to save the day for Ahaz.
Hezekiah, however, had a different temperament than his father. The Hebrew Bible describes Ahaz's apostasies at length, alleging that the king passed his son through fire like the abominations of the nations. Ahaz is depicted in 2 Kings 16 as a man who went out of his way to stray from the tenets of traditional religious beliefs. Hezekiah, in contrast, is one of but two kings of Judah that the authors of the books of Kings praise unstintingly (the other being Josiah, late in the 7th century bc). Hezekiah won strong praise for his piety (in 2 Kings 18:3-6), and it is accounted part and parcel of his virtue that the Lord being with him, he went forth to war and achieved success in rebelling against the king of Assyria, whom he would not serve, as stated in 2 Kings 18:7.
Thus if we follow this retrospective judgment, it is Hezekiah's religious orientation — one of the intangibles of history — that distinguished him from his father and led him to revolt, supported enthusiastically by the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 38:4-8). The resulting conflict, then, was regarded as a holy war by both sides.”