Understanding His story helps us to understand that His-Story is our Story!
(Answers at the end of the lesson)
As we learned in previous lessons, the Word of God is the most precious gift we can hold in our hands or understand with our minds! The deaf can see it, and it has an effect. The blind can feel the braille with their hands and it has an effect. Those with ears can hear it and it will have an effect! In whatever way it is communicated, people can understand the good news that God loves them so much that He gave His one and only Son in order to buy us back from the debt of sin and death! 2 Tim 3:16. Heb 4:12. We have sixty-six books that, over time, the Lord has assembled through the efforts of men like Hezekiah who began gathering the Scriptures together during his reign as King of Judah around 700 bc.
Faith in the Lord includes faith in His Word! Without the Word of God, we would have no knowledge of salvation or even the need for it! We would just live and then die condemned to the eternal Lake of Fire which is the second death (Rev. 20:14, 21:8). Without the Word of God, we would have very little knowledge of what God has done or who He really is. We would know nothing of His power to save those who believe. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith’” (Rom. 1:16-17).
The Lord has protected and passed down His Word throughout every generation and He has inspired men and women to pass it down to the next generation until Moses was inspired to write down what had been given to him. The Lord inspired Moses and many others to write down what the Lord wanted to communicate to every generation that was yet to come until finally we have the wonderful, infallible, perfect WORD OF GOD! Yes I know there are differences in some of the translations. That is why God gave us a safety to use while reading different translations… the Holy Spirit! He will reveal truth to you! But that does not exclude any of us from learning to study the Word of God well! In today’s world, the helps that are available are unbelievably easy to use! And they are very numerous! Not all of them can be trusted. God calls each of us to look into His Word and allow Him to use it to change us, grow us and form us into the image of Christ.
We must be careful about reading or listening to others and using them for our main, or sometimes only, source for understanding. God’s people in the Old and New Testament used books as references, yet the Lord did not choose to put them into the sixty-six books of the Bible! Have you ever heard of “The Book of Jasher”? It is mentioned in Jos. 10:13, 2 Sam. 1:18 and also referenced in 2 Tim. 3:8. Ever read a book called “The Acts of Solomon”? It is lost to history and no one alive for many centuries has read it, yet it is referenced in 1 Kings 11:41. How about a book called “The Annals of King David”? Or “The Annals of the Kings of Israel” which is mentioned in 2 Chron. 33:18? All we have are their titles. Some say that that 2 Chron. 33:18 refers to 1 and 2 Kings, but the information being spoken of in v18 is not found anywhere in Kings or the rest of the Scriptures.
The natural question becomes, why didn’t God give them to us? God’s character is perfect and His knowledge is complete and you can be absolutely sure that God gave us EXACTLY what we needed! No more! And no less! Have faith in the wonderful masterpiece that is the Word of God. After studying this far through the Bible chronologically, it should be becoming more clear to you than ever before! Don’t give up! Read His Word and learn it down to the smallest detail! Then you really will be able to see the author’s hand everywhere He is working. Especially as He continues to write His Word into our hearts…
We need to be able to read, learn, put it all together and tell the story of the Word of God! We have spent a number of lessons learning about Hezekiah and Isaiah and I think it is time to put it all together. In this lesson, we may not have all of the convenient outline points, but we will tell the story of a large part of the Word of God including parts of Kings, Chronicles, Isaiah and more so that we all may have a better understanding of the chronological order of the story and about how the Bible is always about one person - Jesus Christ! He is on every page! How often can you see him in the true story of Hezekiah?
Students will gain a clearer picture of what the Lord was doing with Judah during the life of Hezekiah, Isaiah, Hephzibah and Manasseh. Students will also see the need for the older generation to mentor and pour godly wisdom into the younger generation.
The Lord uses Hezekiah and Manasseh to teach His people the need to speak godly teaching into the lives of the next generation.
Raising the next generation in the Lord all the way through their teenage years and into adulthood is of paramount importance!
Even children raised by godly parents can sometimes go astray so we must be very careful to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4 KJV).
Reviewing and Putting It Together!
To get the most out of what we have studied, let’s begin by putting Hezekiah’s, Hephziba’s, Isaiah’s and Manasseh’s story together in chronological order as best we can and try to understand it as more of a whole picture. When you see the Lord working through the big picture, we will be better able to apply the details in our own lives… We have divided the story up into mini chapters (or points?) beginning with Hezekiah’s Father - Ahaz.
Hezekiah was the son of King Ahaz, a particularly evil father who did not worship the Lord God Yahweh. In fact, he did not stand against the Assyrians because he did not follow the Lord and would rather trust in politics and in paying tribute to Shalmaneser, King of Assyria (2 Kings 16) and then to Sargon II, would become king next in Assyria. As Assyria grew in power, he was probably correct in thinking they would not survive if they did not function as a vassal state and pay the huge amounts of taxes, goods and services required by Shalmaneser. Ahaz encouraged the worship of the foreign gods of the surrounding nations and especially Assyrian gods (2 Kings 16:2-4). Religion and politics went hand in hand and King Ahaz used the religion of these other gods to appease the nations that were around Judah, except for the Northern Kingdom of Israel whom he fought against (v. 7).
1. The King Grows Up
Hezekiah spent his first twenty-five years in these evil, idolatrous times with an evil father and yet, somehow, Hezekiah became Judah's most godly king. There is no single verse or two that proves what I am about to say, but when you study and read the whole story, the evidence seems clear to me that Isaiah must have been a large, positive and godly influence on Hezekiah as he grew up. Isaiah seems to have easy and direct personal access to King Hezekiah in his personal chambers (Isa. 38:1) and Hezekiah never gives us any indication that he ever doubts the truthfulness of Isaiah’s words. Hezekiah trusts Isaiah and responds to him without question any time Isaiah said, “This is what the Lord says...”. Isaiah is obviously present at some of the most intimate times that Hezekiah had with the Lord. Isaiah records Hezekiah’s prayer while he was in his sick bed (Isa. 38).
Isaiah also records Hezekiah’s prayer in the Temple as he prayed over the letter from the Assyrian General and certainly that would not have been a time when everyone (if anyone) would have been allowed to be present with the king at the altar of God (see: Isa. 37:14-15). But Isaiah was obviously there in that most desperate of moments and records each word spoken by the king. According to the rabbinic literature, Isaiah was a descendant of Judah and Tamar (Sotah 10b). Isaiah was the son of Amoz (not to be confused with Prophet Amos), who, according to Jewish writings was the brother of King Amaziah of Judah. So if that is right, Isaiah was a descendant of David just as Hezekiah was. Isaiah and Hezekiah would have been family and Isaiah probably had open access to the palace. Because of this, many scholars believe that Isaiah was Hezekiah’s mentor and teacher. I find myself wondering if Hezekiah viewed Isaiah more as a surrogate father than anything else?
2. The King Inherits a World of Problems!
When Hezekiah became the King of Judah at twenty-five years old (2 Kings 18:2), he removed the idols that his father and others had set up inside the Temple and in the courtyard and on the High Places. He commanded the people that they must worship the Lord God Yahweh (2 Chron. 29:20-36)! He made sweeping reforms that affected the nation's spiritual lives as well as their physical lives. And the Scriptures tell us that everything he did was right in the sight of the Lord, at least all the way up to the fourteenth year of his reign (2 Kings 18:3).
At some point during that first fourteen years, the King of Assyria, Sargon II, died. Judah had paid a high price to Sargon II as tribute. This would be equivalent to what in our lifetimes, the Mafia would call “Protection Money” here in the US. There were serious threats to consider. In Hezekiah’s sixth year as king, Samaria fell to Sargon’s army and the last of the northern tribes were carried off into exile (2 Kings 18:10). Those protection payments kept Assyria from attacking Judah. Finally, Hezekiah said, no more! After Sargon’s death, his son, Sennacherib, was viewed as weak and just about every little kingdom stopped paying tribute and Hezekiah also refused to pay. After making this decision, he knew he would have to face Assyria, so he reinforced the city of Jerusalem and built new walls to help close in the whole city. He wanted to protect not only the people of Jerusalem, but also all of the refugees that were moving to Jerusalem as Assyria moved from place to place, conquering as they went. Hezekiah dug a tunnel to bring water into the city to a new pool - later called “the Pool of Siloam” - to provide the city water for any coming siege or attack that may occur. As the Assyrian Army was conquering it’s way up from the south (after defeating Egypt), King Hezekiah stripped all of the gold silver and other precious items from the Temple just to try to pay the Assyrians to leave Jerusalem alone (2 Kings 18:16). But the King of Assyria sent an army to Jerusalem anyway. Too little, too late!
3. The King About to Die Gets a Reprieve
So, in the fourteenth year of his reign (2 Kings 18:13), Hezekiah would face the Assyrian army as a result of his rebellion and refusal to pay Assyria any more tribute. I think that the Lord was about to take Judah away into captivity by using the Assyrians just as he had done to the Northern Ten Tribes. It looks to me that it was also during the fourteenth year of His reign, at thirty-nine years old, that Hezekiah became ill with an infection and was about to die. The Lord sent Isaiah with a message to tell Hezekiah to get ready because he is going to die from an infection that he had (a boil) (Isa. 38:21). The Bible never tells us that Hezekiah did anything to deserve death during his first fourteen years. In fact, just the opposite! Maybe the Lord was taking Hezekiah home to Heaven because he did not want Hezekiah to be captured, tortured and sent away to Assyria or viciously killed? We can’t know that for sure, but we do know that the Assyrians were extremely vicious and brutal to those they conquered. (See the pictures at the end of this paragraph.) They did horrible things to torture people and especially kings who fought against them. Among other things, they were known to skin people alive and hang the skins on the city walls. Sometimes they would burn their children alive in front of their them.
Because of Hezekiah’s relationship with the Lord, his humility and a heartfelt prayer, the Lord does not allow Hezekiah to die and he did not send Judah into exile at that time (Isa. 38:5-6).
The Lord told him He would give him fifteen more years to live. Then God promised him that he would be up, out of his sick bed and in the Temple in three days as a sign that the Lord would keep His Word (2 Kings 20:5). It was also a sign that the Lord would deliver Israel from the Assyrians, so this had to be just before or during the siege. Hezekiah still sought more assurance and the Lord moved the shadow of the sun backwards for him (Isa. 38:8). If we take that just as it is stated, the Lord proves He is not bound by the laws of physics (laws that He made in the first place). He moved the Earth backwards in its rotation by a few degrees and nothing detrimental happened to the earth. Nothing is impossible for our God!
4. The King Rises from His Sick Bed in Three Days
Hezekiah had been ill for some time. Time enough for Shebna, Hezekiah’s right hand man, to buy chariots from Egypt, begin amassing his own wealth (or using the king’s wealth) and to begin building an elaborate tomb for himself. He probably thought he would be the savior of the people and become king when Hezekiah died, but the Lord calls him down and asked him... “Who do you think you are” (Isa. 22:16 NLT)? Shebna is deposed from his proposed grandeur and he later dies and is buried in a simple, poor man’s tomb with an inscription stating that there are no riches inside as Shebna had dreamed and planned for.
So, considering that the Lord promised to heal Hezekiah and deliver Jerusalem from Assyria and that he would be in the Temple in three days (2 Kings 20:5), it looks like it was during Hezekiah’s illness and that it was just as he was being healed through Isaiah’s command to treat the boil that Hezekiah received the letter with Rabshakeh’s words in it... Hezekiah had tried to pay them off by stripping all of the gold and silver from the Temple (2 Kings 18:16) while Assyria was besieging the city of Lachish1 which was the second most important city in Judah, but the King of Assyria sent a large army to Jerusalem anyway. When the Assyrians arrived at Jerusalem, Rabshakeh called for Hezekiah to come and listen as he shouted threats from the wall near the upper spring, but Hezekiah did not come (probably because he was very sick and God had not completely healed him yet). Hezekiah sent three envoys out to the wall and they listened to Rabshakeh threaten God’s people and insult the Lord Himself (2 Kings 18:18)! The message of the King of Assyria, delivered by Rabshakeh, was written down by the envoys sent by Hezekiah into a letter and sent it to the King (Isa. 37:14). Hezekiah sent for Isaiah and Isaiah sent word back and reassured him that the Lord will take care of them and do what He had promised (Isa. 37:2)! Apparently, Assyria pulled some troops out and went south to defeat the Ethiopians who were coming north from Egypt to meet them and they sent another letter to Hezekiah. (Side note: Ethiopians listed in some translations where actually Nubian Kings from the south of Egypt that had taken power and were ruling Egypt, so some Bibles may say Nubia or Egypt?) Hezekiah then entered the Temple and laid the letter out before the Lord containing Rashakeh’s message from the King of Assyria (Isa. 37:9-20). It makes sense to me that the letter coincided with the three days after God promised to heal Hezekiah and that was the reason God told him he would be in the Temple in three days. The promises given through Isaiah of healing and deliverance, were playing out in front of Hezekiah’s own eyes. It is obvious that the Lord used the presence of the king at the altar, pleading for the salvation of his people to paint pictures of Christ through Hezekiah. The scene of Hezekiah earlier, praying against the wall in his sick bed gives us a picture of Christ in the Garden, praying for Himself and for us and being willing to do whatever pleased the Father. This time, with Hezekiah in the Temple three days later, paints a picture of the evil enemy of God attacking God’s anointed and then the anointed one is in the Temple bringing the needs of the people to the Lord and the Lord replying that He will save His people! I think all of this connects to the resurrection and the atonement by the blood of Christ in the Heavenly Tabernacle (Temple) spoken of in Heb. 8. But we will have to look at that another time.
The Assyrians were masters of warfare, but they made a serious mistake. Their boast against the Lord and their claim of invincibility in the face of the God of Israel, challenged and declared war upon God Himself! That night, the angel of the Lord Himself (I believe it was a pre-incarnate visit of Christ Himself) came and killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. And He did it in one night! The death of the greater part of the Assyrian Army created a power vacuum in the Middle East that would eventually bring down the weakened Assyrian Empire making way for a young upstart to arrive on the scene and form the next great World Empire - The Babylonians. His name was Nebuchadnezzar. But we will get to that in future lessons…
5. The King’s Family
Hezekiah was given another fifteen years to live. It doesn’t appear that King Hezekiah had any sons and may not have had Hephzibah as his wife and queen when the Assyrians attacked in the fourteenth year of his reign. He apparently had no heir at that time? So, it may be that after the Lord gave him fifteen more years that he married Hephzibah. It is very likely that Ps. 45 (the first part) is her wedding song to the love of her life, King Hezekiah. “Beautiful words stir my heart. I will recite a lovely poem about the king, for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet. You are the most handsome of all” (Ps. 45:1-2). The rest of the Psalm was written by the sons of Korah. At some point, they had two sons. One of them is named Manasseh and he was twelve years old when Hezekiah died and he became the next king. There are those who suggest that Manasseh was co-ruler with Hezekiah for ten years, but the Scriptures do not say that is so. Although he loses his father at the young age of twelve, but, Ps. 45 and the the fact that the Lord Himself used the name Hephzibah (My Delight) in Isa. 62:4 to describe God’s own bride would indicate that Hephzibah was a godly wife and mother. Yet, somehow, Manasseh becomes Judah’s most wicked king! How did that happen?
6. The King’s Wicked Son
We are just not sure how or why Manasseh became so wicked, but when you consider that he was only twelve (2 Kings 21:1) and probably very impressionable, coupled with the fact that there were sill leaders and advisers around from twenty-nine years earlier when Ahaz was king, you can see how it might have happened. Yes, he had been raised by a godly father and mother up to the age of twelve, but then everything changed. He became skilled at using religion with politics as a foreign policy. He set up many false gods so that the dignitaries and people from other lands could worship in Jerusalem. He even set up an idol that the Scriptures say, he made, and he put it in the Temple. Probably in the Holy of Holies. He killed the prophets and may have even killed Isaiah, who, if Jewish traditions are correct, was his maternal grandfather? He burned some of his own children as sacrifices to foreign gods and he turned the whole nation away from Yahweh. We would surely think there is no hope for someone who has done all of the things he had done, wouldn’t we?
7. The King’s Wicked Son Finds the Lord
Manasseh actually becomes a good king! Did you know that? He is not actually a young man when he does. I have never heard it taught or preached? Assyria is still around and still trying to take over the world, but they are not the power they once were. They had possession of Babylon (Southern Iraq) during the reign of Manasseh. And Manasseh submitted and allowed Judah to once again be a vassal state to Assyria. We are not certain why, or what charges were brought, but Manasseh does something or is accused of something that causes Assyria to send an army to Jerusalem and arrest Manasseh and take him to Babylon in chains and hooks (2 Chron. 33:11). There, in prison, the most extraordinary thing happened! Manasseh came to Lord and humbled himself! And the Lord is moved! He forgives and restores Manasseh. Archaeologists and scholars say he was found not guilty by the King of Assyria and he was reinstated as King in Judah. And he proves his change of heart! He tore down the idols in the Temple and in the city and dumped them outside the city. He did his best to restore the worship of Yahweh (2 Chron. 33:10-17), but was not able to entirely undo what he had done to the spiritual lives of his people. Manasseh is known as an evil king, but the truth is that he is a king that received grace from the Lord. He received forgiveness and even blessings from the Lord when he did not deserve it! He deserved punishment! But God was moved by his humility and his prayer! Maybe he should be known as the king whom God gave redemption? There is another book the Lord does not give us today that holds many of the details of Manasseh’s reign and it is called “The Book of the Seers” in 2 Chron. 33:19. Like the books listed in the Overview, all we have is the title.
Study and Application - Finding Jesus in Every Page:
What does this lesson teach us about God? Man? Sin? Grace?
How could anyone miss the consequences that result from how children are raised in the life of Hezekiah and Manasseh? We have a young man born to a man who was worthless as a father (King Ahaz) and he set every bad example possible for his son! Yet someone poured the godly knowledge, virtues and examples into him. Someone changed his worldview from that of his father’s to a God centered worldview. By the time he is twenty-five and becomes king, he is ready! There is no hesitation in removing idols and restoring the worship of Yahweh! He had become a man of God because of others who loved the Lord enough to care about the next generation.
But then comes Manasseh, at twelve, the beginning of his teenage years! He loses his godly father and it becomes obvious that ungodly influences prevail. He became Judah’s most evil king and many people suffered and died because of it. No one was pouring godly knowledge, virtues or examples into him as he became a teenger that we can see? He leads a life of depravity and leads the people around him to do the same. But there is hope. When he was a child, he must have received godly teaching and examples from his father, Hezekiah. The Lord allows him to be carried away to Babylon and most likely put on trial to get his attention (2 Chron. 33:11). Manasseh repents! Manasseh humbles himself! Manasseh is restored (vv. 12-13)! It seems that his father’s example was not wasted on Manasseh, but what could have been if Manasseh had been poured into by someone who loved the Lord enough to care about him? This has to be one of the most ignored passages in the Word. I admit, I have never connected this together before. It is an example of how our failings from when we are younger, can follow us into our old age. It is much easier and much quicker to build a bad reputation than it is to build a good one! That is why teenagers need you! They need adults to pour into them. I am a youth pastor, but I am only one man! It takes a church...
God speaks to His children and is always ready to forgive, even at the lowest points of our lives when we trust in Him!
God acts using the circumstances of life to call his children to Himself.
God reveals Himself when He chooses to heal, comfort and/or restore those who have allowed pride to lead them astray.
What did the life of Hezekiah teach you?
Do you see Manasseh as an evil king or as a godly good king? Why?
What does God’s forgiveness toward both Hezekiah in his pride and Manasseh in his idolatry teach us?
Answers to: How much do you know?
1) Because Hezekiah humbled prayed to the Lord and asked for the Lord’s help (Isaiah 38:1-8).
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