What we can learn from Hezekiah?

Crumbs what a name! He obviously comes from anywhere near here with a name like that. You are right about that. He is a king who lived a long time agao and his story can be found in

When I read this chapter it struck me how much the story of Hezekiah linked in with our every day experiences. He was king of the southern Kingdom. Many years before Israel had been split into two kingdoms one to the north called Judah and one to the south. Like other such splits even today they still had some thing in common as they shared a history up to that point.

Hezekiah’s challenge

Hezekiah was the king of the southern kingdom and he had a reputation of being a godly man who sought advice from other godly men and followed their advice. The first verse of chapter 36 summarises the end of the northern Kingdom which were overtaken by the Assyrians under the leadership of Sennacherib.

Imagine Hezekiah’s situation there he was watching his next door neighbour being taken over by overpowering enemies and wondering if his kingdom would be next. It reminds me of the situation of Britain in the 1940 after a military machine had flown and then rolled out of Nazi Germany and overtaken many nations.

Then came the Battle of Britain where the RAF countered the Nazi planes. The nation held its breath and wondered what would happen next but then the Nazi planes stopped coming and the majority of Britain (apart from the Channel Islands) was never invaded.

What his enemy said

Anyway back to our story. There was Hezekiah wondering what was going to happen next. Next thing you know there is a high powered meeting between a senior official from Sennacherib’s ruling party and some senior officials from Hezekiah’s.

The argument went like this Sennacherib’s people said we are coming to get you and you cannot stop us because there is no power on earth strong enough to stop us, Give in now and it will be easier on you in the long run. Hezekiah’s people said our God is stronger than any other and he will protect us.

Sennacherib’s people laughed at them and said we have heard that before and no one else’s faith in a god has saved them. Not even your neighbours who trusted the same God as you do have been kept safe from being invaded by us.

Sounds daft but when you think about it what was this enemy trying to do? One thing is that it was trying to avoid the effort involved in fighting. Another was that if there was no battle then the spoils would be greater. They could take more stuff and do it more easily if they could just persuade Hezekiah to capitulate.

Hezekiah’s problem

Part of the problem was that in the chapter before this Hezekiah and his people had put their faith and trust in Egypt to protect them. This seemed a good idea at the time but their ally was a bit too far away and not strong enough to save them in this situation.

The Assyrians knew this and taunted them saying come on try relying on them and see how far you get. You are weak and you cannot do this in your own strength those who you are depending on can’t help you and we have already conquered many nations who have said that their gods are stronger than ours and will protect them.

Oh err what do they do now! Talk about an enemy trying to subdue them with words! They had not even started fighting yet and here they were facing a torrent of words meant to deflate and defeat them.

In verse 21 we see Hezekiah’s orders to his party of officials i.e. keep still and do not answer. There are many difficult situations where this is actually very good advice because your first response might cause more problems and you end up regretting what you have said or done.

Hezekiah’s response

They went back to Hezekiah and passed on the message. Hezekiah was visibly troubled and distressed and in his sorrow sought God. He also realised that he and his people are in trouble because he had not followed the advice God had given him previously. He knew he had strayed from the straight and narrow path and wanted to get back on it again so went back to God and said a very well known short prayer i.e. HEEEEEEEEEEEEEELP.

He knew that he was facing attack because he had not done the right thing but he also knew his God was faithful and just and would not turn him away if he was truly sorry for what he had done. He also knew that it was not just him that the Assyrians were defying and saying were incapable to deal with the situation they were saying that God was not capable either.

He seeks out a man of God to help him

However, for Hezekiah just going to God’s house to pray was not enough he needed someone he could trust to give him godly advice, someone close enough to God that they could be used as a channel between God and Hezekiah. That man was Isaiah. Rather than stop chasing after God himself he asked his servants to find Isaiah and get his advice.

Isaiah had an interesting message for Hezekiah. He first told him not to be afraid at what he had heard then he said that Sennacherib would hear words that disturbed him so much that he stopped threatening Hezekiah and went home. Not only that once he was home the circumstances would be such that he would die a violent death. Hezekiah could trust God to help him.

After that, Sennacherib’s men had a huge surprise as they woke up one morning to find that 185,000 of their number had died in the night. For some reason Sennacherib then decided to go back to his capital and stay there. While he was there he was killed by two of his sons and another son reigned in his place.

Hezekiah’s response

Hezekiah went back to God and said You are all powerful you created everything. Look and hear what this man has said about you! He has said that he is so powerful that he can defeat anyone even those who have you on their side. Hezekiah said it is true that they have defeated everyone they have met so far BUT they only had gods made of men’s hands. In other words, they created their own gods rather than having a God who had created them.

Hezekiah then asked God to save him and his people to show that he was stronger and able to defeat even Sennacherib. Isaiah then told Hezekiah that because he had turned back to God he was safe.

Why had all this happened?

Isaiah said that Sennacherib had had so much power because God had given it to him. He could only take all the good things from people, even the things that were hidden, because they had done wrong things and deserved to be judged.

Hezekiah was promised that his people would have enough to eat even during the hard times when they were recovering from these attacks. He was promised that Sennacherib would never succeed against Hezekiah.

How does this apply to us?

This whole story reminds me of many challenges that we face. There are these huge fearsome looking problems of sickness addiction relationships and we seek out help from anyone other than God.

A drug addict may seek out help from counselling services provided by charities or the health service and some do get some help and relief from this. If they did not then these organisations would not continue to exist.

However, there are people who have turned to God for help in these situations and have had their lives miraculously changed so that they no longer have the desire to drink alcohol or take drugs. It is almost as if they themselves do not know what has happened to them but their lives suddenly and permanently change.

Some people face problems and it is as if they feel that should give in because it is easier in the long run to submit to the problem rather than fight it. How many people face some kind of problem and think they cannot break free of it because they are not strong enough to do so? They might as well submit to it and let the situation get worse because they do not have any other alternative.

The importance of getting the right advice

Others have sought advice from people they thought that they could trust only to find that that advice did more harm than good. In the early stages of dealing with the issues that arose from caring for someone with mental health issues, I was told that I had to learn patience and become more submissive.

I did not disagree with them because wives are supposed to submit to the husband’s leadership of the home. However, what they and I forgot is that by submitting to a mental illness like that, it is no better than submitting to someone like Sennacherib

There is an old saying that if you give an inch someone else will take a mile. That was definitely true in this situation. I am not the only one who has trusted advice and support offered by individuals or organisations only to find that they are worse off. This is what Hezekiah had done he had looked all over to find help but when he did the helpers he found were not strong enough to help him.

Building (or rebuilding) a relationship with God

Hezekiah was desperate and desperation is often the point were people actually do something to seek help. Notice what he did first he sought out God. How many of us cry out God help me in difficult situations. However, Hezekiah did more than just say God help me, he recognised that the reason why he needed help was that he had done something wrong and needed to say sorry to God and start to rebuild their relationship.

The amazing thing is what happens when that relationship is rebuilt. The enemy who has swallowed up other nations and is attacking them stops. Then the enemy that is attacking them is reduced in size as 185,000 men are killed so they are no longer such an effective fighting force. They then retreat to their home base and the leader is then killed. Hezekiah does not have to do anything.

God organises it all for them. Then they are promised that despite the fact that the enemy has reduced their ability to care for themselves they will still have enough and that it will not take long before they have more than enough.

If it can happen to solemness it can happen to anyone

Some of my favourite Christian biographies are stories of people who have seen this happen in their own lives. People like Gram Seed a violent drug addict from Middlesbrough who spent many years in jail. He had started making mistakes that directed his life along the wrong track from an early age partly because of the problems within his family. After an encounter with God his life changed so much that few people recognised him. The things that came against him lost their power and now he has a new life as a family man trying to help others out of the mess he found himself in.

He is not alone many people have found dramatic release from the things that have kept them in fear. The God I know does this repeatedly for people. Their stories may sound too good to be true and do you know that is what the enemies that face you want you to think. The only way that you will ever know if it is true is to try it for yourself.

Why not start with this prayer

God I am not even sure if you really exist and if you do if you can help me BUT I am desperate for help. Please make it obvious to me that you exist. Please do something to help me. I am not even sure what I am looking for but I know that something in my life needs to change and I cannot do it by myself. Use what ever is necessary to direct me to the help you know I need, including people, reading materials, other media like CDs. I promise you then that I will do all I can to build up the relationship between us and I ask you to help me develop the kind of relationship a loving and merciful God wants with people. Amen

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