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2 KINGS 18:1-8
Series:  Hezekiah:  2 Kings 18-20 - Part One

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
August 16, 2009

Have you ever wished that just once - when people really aren’t expecting much from you - which is probably more often than we’d like to admit.  Or, maybe some time when you’re thinking to yourself, “There’s no way.” Have you ever wanted to just once to come through in the clutch - to do the extraordinary - and just blow people away?  To come through with the right thing at the right time?  Are we tracking?

Watch this - and think about low expectations and coming through in the clutch.

(video:  Ball Girl)

Isn’t that cool?  That’s about a 15 foot climb up that wall.  Low expectations.  She’s the ball girl.  Coming out of no where.  Doing the right thing at the right time.  Igniting the crowd.

This morning we’re beginning a look at the life of King Hezekiah.  If you would - please turn with me to 2 Kings - chapter 18 - starting at verse 1.

As we get into our study we’re going to be seeing King Hezekiah as a man who lived in a time of low expectations - spiritually - morally - politically.  The only expectation was of things getting worse.  Godliness was not what people were expecting from their leaders. 

School starts tomorrow.  Godliness and morality aren’t exactly the environment at most schools.  Right?  Let alone the places we work or the society we live in - sometimes even our families.  So many people expect that things will only be the way things are.  Maybe you have those kinds of low expectations. 
“We’ll, what are you gonna’ do.  That’s just the way things are.”

The people around us need what is unexpected.  They need us to come through in the clutch.  To be the Godly men and women that God’s created us to be.  If we do - we’ll make a difference - lives - communities - will be changed - wherever God has put us to serve Him.

King Hezekiah comes through big time for God.  Comes through in a way that we’re going to see is really encouraging for us - as we’re trying live Godly in the places where we live our lives.

2 Kings 18:1: 
Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea, the son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king.

There’s two kingdoms - Israel and Judah.  One way they kept track of when someone became king of one kingdom was to compare that with who was king of the other kingdom.  If we know the date that Hoshea became king of Israel and we know that three years later Hezekiah started his reign in Judah then we know what that date was.  Are we together?

Long way around of saying that Hezekiah began as king in 715 B.C.

Now it came about in the third year of Hoshea, the son of Elah king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah became king.  He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah.  He
- Hezekiah - did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done.

Let’s pause there and unpack these verses.  There are three things we need to understand if we’re going to understand Hezekiah and the situation he’s in.

- we need to understand Hezekiah’s father - Ahaz.

Turn backwards with me to 2 Kings - chapter 16 - starting at verse 1: 
In the seventeenth year of Pekah the son of Remaliah, Ahaz the son of Jotham, king of Judah, became king.  On a calendar that means Ahaz started ruling in 729 B.C.  

Verse 2: 
Ahaz was twenty years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and he - Ahaz - did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord his God, as his father David had done.

Underline verse 2.  Its the summary of Ahaz’s life.  Its an understatement. 

Reading on in 2 Kings 16 - the account of Ahaz’s life - we’re told that Ahaz walked in the way of the kings of Israel.  Which meant a long list of ungodly perversity.  On the top of that list was Baal worship.

A few years back I was in Lebanon in the temple complex of Baalbek - same god.  The walls are adorned with images of male genitilia.  These guys were perverse.  Their worship was perverse.  The whole focus was on sex and ritual prostitution.

2 Kings 16 tells us that Ahaz made his son pass through the fire.  Which means that Ahaz takes his son - places him on the altar of the god Molech - has him burned - alive - a living sacrifice to this pagan god.  In 2 Chronicles were told that Ahaz did that to his sons - plural - roasted alive several of his sons in pagan worship.  What kind of man would do that?.

2 Kings 16 records that Ahaz offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places - on the hills of Judah - under every green tree.  On the hills people put up carved phallic stones.  More perverse sexuality.  Immoral rites - taking place all over the hills of Judah - perversity in direct opposition to God’s law given through Moses.  Perversity led by Ahaz.

Are we tracking?  Ahaz is one wicked king - a godless leadership - leading a society far from God - focused on perverse sexuality.  Does that sound a tad familiar?

In the days of Ahaz there were two world powers - Assyria and Egypt.  Assyria in the northeast.  Egypt in the south west.  In between were a number of smaller nations - like Judah and Israel - that were trying to stay alive while being pawns in the geo-politics of Assyria and Egypt.

In the midst of this geo-politices - Rezin - King of Aram - one of these pawn states - and Pekah - King of Israel - form and alliance against Ahaz.  Rezin and the Arameans take over a whole section of Judah - clearing out the Judeans.  120,000 Judeans are killed in one day.  Maaseiah - one of Ahaz’s sons is killed.  200,000 Judeans are led off into slavery.  Eventually Rezin and Pekah come up against Ahaz at Jerusalem.

So Ahaz repents and turns to God for help.  Not really.  Just making sure we’re still together.

Ahaz takes the silver and gold from God’s Temple - takes the silver and gold from king’s treasury - basically robs Fort Knox - sends the wealth of Judah - spiritually and economically - sends all that to Tiglath-pileser - King of Assyria - as a bribe.  Turns to the Assyrians for help - not God.

The Assyrians come down - take out the Arameans - kill Rezin at Damascus - eventually haul Israel off into exile in Assyria - rescue Ahaz.  But off course they don’t leave.  Judah comes under the direct control of Assyria.

So Ahaz runs up to Damascus to grovel before the Assyrian king and to worship the Assyrian gods.  Then he comes back to Jerusalem - to God’s Temple - takes the bronze altar - that was the focal point of Godly sacrifice - moves the bronze altar out of the way - to a less prominent place - sets up his own altar - an Assyrian style altar - and there in God’s Temple - Ahaz offers sacrifices to the gods of Assyria.

There’s more - Ahaz takes the utensils - used to worship God - has the Temple tools cut into pieces - made into little tiny altars - ships them all over Judah - so that in every city of Judah people will have the opportunity to worship the Assyrian gods.

That’s “daddy dearest.”  Hezekiah’s loving - example of godliness - father.  Ahaz was one of the most wicked kings in the history of God’s people.  He - perhaps more than any other ruler - led God’s people farther away from God and deeper into depravity.

- understanding Hezekiah and where he’s living - second, we need to understand Hezekiah’s position.

We’re told - verse 2 - that Hezekiah was how old when he became king?   25 years old.  We also know also - making some comparisons from Scripture and history and those start dates - 729 and 715 BC - remember those?  We know that prior to becoming king all by himself - for 15 years Hezekiah co-reigned with his father - Ahaz.  (2 Kings 16:2; Isaiah 36:1)

15 years that were designed to be a training period for the king in waiting.  This is how you rule Judah.  This is what a king is suppose to do.  

Think about that.  All the perversity - the rejection of God - the disastrous political alliances - the selling out of his people - his brothers being Bar-B-Qued for Molech.  Hezekiah has a front row seat - in the classroom with “daddy dearest.”

- we need to understand Hezekiah’s relationship with God. 

Hezekiah comes from a long line of Godly kings.  Joash, Amaziah, Azariah, and Hezekiah’s grandfather Jotham.  Scripture says that each of them did what was right in the sight of the Lord.  In a Godly family Ahaz is the exception.   

In verse 2 Hezekiah is introduced along with his mother - Abi and his grandfather - his mother’s father - Zechariah.  Abi is short for Abijah.  Aba means what?  Father.  Jah is Yahweh - the Lord.  Abijah means “my father is the Lord.”  Zechariah means “the Lord remembers.”  These are Godly people. 

Aside from Ahaz - “daddy dearest” - apart from Ahaz - Hezekiah comes from a Godly families.  A family that influenced his life towards God.

The prophets Isaiah and Micah were around at the time of Hezekiah.  Prophets that he would have known.  Prophets that he probably heard speak - number of times - heard them speak God’s word against his father.  Hezekiah knew God’s word.

Hold onto this:  Hezekiah - unlike Ahaz - Hezekiah is a Godly man.

Let’s pull some of this together.  Thinking about where Hezekiah was and where we find ourselves. 

One of the hardest things to do is to play second fiddle - to play it well - and to know that the whole time you’re playing second fiddle - the guy playing first fiddle has no business sitting in that chair.  Right?  Its hard to know what’s right - or at least to have a pretty good sense of what should be different - to know that what’s going on around you isn’t right - and to feel powerless to do anything about it.

Hezekiah is a Godly man - living in a really messed up family situation - in a nation that his father is leading down the tubes spiritually - down the tubes morally - down the tubes politically.  

The government has bankrupted the nation.  Judah’s a puppet state under the Assyrians - helpless and controlled by her enemies.  Israel’s been carried off into exile.  Judah’s next.  Its hopeless.

The downward slide of the country into depravity - that slide is accelerating.  Satan is doing a number on this nation.  You can see the train wreck coming.  The only expectation is of disaster.

Does any of this sound familiar?  Not too far off from today.  The more things change.  The more they… stay the same.

Hezekiah has a front row seat to all this.  Not just in his family - but in his nation.  He’s the co-regent - 2nd fiddle - yet powerless to step in and make a change.

Can you imagine Hezekiah coming before God and asking,
“God this is so wrong.  God, why do I have to put up with this?  God You gotta’ do something.  How can You let this go on?”

Have you been there?  Prayed those prayers.  Its overwhelming.  Hopeless.  The only expectation is disaster.  More of the same and worse.  How can we possibly come through in the clutch?  How do we do the right thing at the right time?  Who are we?

In God’s time - God gave Hezekiah the opportunity to do what was right in God’s sight.  At age 25 - imagine that - at the ripe old age of 25 - after 15 years of playing second fiddle - the sovereign God - who has given to Hezekiah Godly family apart from Ahaz - given to Hezekiah Godly mentors like Isaiah and Micah - who has given Hezekiah 15 years of training in being royalty - God who has prepared Hezekiah to know wrong and right - to be pure and open before Him.  In God’s timing the sovereign God removes Ahaz and places Hezekiah on the throne.

And Hezekiah did what was right in the sight of the Lord - what pleased God - what God approved of.

Hear this:  You may be playing second fiddle.  You may be wondering if where you are is where you’ll be for eternity.  You may have no expectation of anything different.  You may be wondering if God could ever use you or change the circumstances around you.

Satan would rather have us focus on things we’re expecting God to change rather than on expecting God to change things.  Satan would rather have us focus on what’s discouraging us - what gives us no expectation of change - rather than looking to God with expectation.

We need to expect God to move.  We need to be committed to hanging in there - trusting God to do what He promises to do - daily renewing our  commitment - our obedience - our service to Him..  We need to be preparing ourselves - deepening our relationship with God - confessing sin - letting go of what keeps from being totally surrendered to God - letting God purify and prepare us.  Because God - in His time will move through us to accomplish His purposes.

Hear this:  If you're playing second fiddle - learn to play well - and keep playing and keep trusting God.  Do not lower your expectations of God because of your circumstances.  Be ready.  Because God’s time will come.  He will use you to do the right thing at the right time.

Let’s go on - 2 Kings 18 - verse 4 -
what does it mean that Hezekiah did right in the sight of the Lord?

Verse 4: 
He - Hezekiah - removed the high places and broke down the sacred pillars and cut down the Asherah.  He also broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan.

first thing Hezekiah did was He Removed.  Let’s say that together, “He removed.”  The word “remove” in Hebrew means “to reject” - to abolish - to turn aside from.  “We just ain’t going there anymore.”

Verse 4 says that Hezekiah removed the “high places.”  All the other Godly kings of Judah - Hezekiah’s ancestors - they did things to move God’s people back to God.  They cleaned up the Temple - renewed worship of God - wiped out centers of Baal worship.  The minimum of what it took to get right with God - to get God to help them.  Not one of them - except Hezekiah removed the “high places.”  There was always a place of sin that they never quite got around to cleaning out.

We’re like that.  We’ll let God deal with the areas of our lives that we’d like God to deal with - the sins we agree are holding us back.  Praying that God will fix whatever we’re struggling with.

Jesus didn’t come into our lives to make them better.  Jesus comes into our lives to take over.

Hezekiah went after the “high places” - the places that were out of touch - unseen.  The turning of the nation over to God - the removal of sin was complete - nothing was hidden or held back.

Hezekiah broke down the sacred pillars - the phallic stones - dedicated to Baal - perverse sexuality.  Remember the scene from Fireproof where Caleb takes a bat to his computer?  Hezekiah didn’t just pack up the sacred pillars in case they were needed later.  He broke them down - pulverized them.

Hezekiah cut down the Asherah - Asherah was the female version of Baal.  Baal consort.  The goddess Asherah.  Cut down because the images were made of wood.

Then he broke in pieces the bronze serpent the people had nick named Nehustan - literally “the brass thing.”

Think Moses and the Exodus - God’s people wandering in the wilderness - and they spoke out against God. 
“There’s no food and no water.  Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die?”  So God sends fiery serpents that bite the people and a lot of them die.  Sound familiar?

The people come to Moses,
“We’ve sinned.  We spoke against God.  You talk to God and get Him to lay off with the serpents.”

God tells Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it up on a pole and whoever looks at that serpent on the pole will be saved from death.  It’s a Old Testament symbol of Jesus being crucified on the cross.  If we look to Him - trust that God will save us through Him - we live.  (Numbers 21:4-9)

In the days of Ahaz that bronze serpent was still around.  But rather that worshipping the God of their salvation God’s people were worshipping the symbol - worshipping the symbol of their faith rather than the God who establishes that faith.  Ever see that happen today?

People creating a religion based on the symbols of Christianity - the morals and behavior of Christians - worshipping a God that we can keep in a Temple for Sunday worship?  A Christianity that’s suppose to meet our needs - make our life better.  God is a God of love who serves us.

In a ton of churches today - especially in America - the idea of a God who would demand 24/7/365 life change - total control over our lives - the sacrifice of our lives in complete commitment to Him - that God - for the most part - doesn’t exist.

Hezekiah took all that self-serving religion - broke it into little tiny pieces - removed it.  By time Hezekiah was done removing things there was nothing left to remove.

- Hezekiah trusted God - He Trusted.  Let’s say that together, “He trusted.”

Verse 5: 
He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him.

Ever try this?  The object is what?  Build teamwork.  Fall backwards trusting that rest of the team will catch you.  There’s a point of no return.  Right?  Total commitment?  

2 Chronicles tells us that Hezekiah consecrated the priests - the Temple - the tools of ministry in the Temple - set them apart exclusively for God.  Hezekiah restored sacrifice and worship in the Temple.  He invited God’s people to again celebrate the Passover - to celebrate God’s salvation.

Hezekiah removed - there was no going back.  Then he put himself and his people in God’s hands.  Turned from sin.  Turned towards God.  If God doesn’t catch me there’s no Plan B.  There’s only Plan A - trust God. 

- Hezekiah clung to the Lord - He Clung.   Let’s try that together, “He clung.”

Verse 6: 
For he clung to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses.

To cling is to stick - to be inseparably joined. 

Genesis 2:24: 
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and what?  cleave - same word in Hebrew - shall cleave to his wife and they shall be one flesh.

Cleaving is a daily commitment for a lifetime.  Dogged commitment regardless of the circumstances. 
“I will cling to God.” 

Hezekiah obeyed God’s commandments - regardless of public opinion - whatever the financial cost - whether it was easy or hard - whether it fit his understanding of things - however it changed his lifestyle - whatever.  Hezekiah didn’t stop following after God.  Didn’t stop pursuing God.  Didn’t stop obeying God.  He clung to God. 

:  He prospered.  Let’s try that together, “He prospered.”

Verse 7: 
And the Lord was with him; wherever he went he prospered.  And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.  He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city.

Prosperity is what?  Because we’ve done all the right stuff - obeyed God - God reaches down and blesses us with stuff - standing - fame and fortune.  The word here for prosperity is “sakal.”  It has the idea of wisdom - insight - discernment.

The Lord was with Hezekiah - went along with him - and in wherever Hezekiah purposed to go - in everything Hezekiah purposed to do - he achieved success - the wisdom of God - who accompanied Hezekiah - was displayed.  Hezekiah acted prosperously - with Godly wisdom - insight - and discernment.

Hezekiah did two things. 
First:  Hezekiah rebelled against the king of Assyria.  Leads a revolution.  Not exactly the best move politically.  Telling the king of mighty Assyria - overlords of Judah - telling the king of Assyria what do go with himself.

But Ahaz trusted in Assyria not God.  Hezekiah trusts in God not Assyria. 

- Hezekiah went out and defeated the Philistines - destroyed them - ravaged them - all the way down to Gaza.  Took out all their fortresses - small and large - a complete rout.  A great move.  Right?  Antagonize the neighbors.

Hezekiah is reclaiming land that had been promised to them by God but lost during the time of Ahaz.  He’s reclaiming territory lost to sin.

Politically these are reckless moves - stirring up a deadly hornet’s nest.  But spiritually - there’s wisdom here.  A strong statement of what it means to be accompanied by God through life - to live life with the living God - to know and do the right thing at the right time.  A bold statement made before God’s people and the world. 

With God there’s no need to trust in anything or anyone other than God.  There’s no need to live under the guilt and burden and stigma of past sin.

Satan may be doing a number on you - working to convince you  that what you’re up against is impossible to overcome.  You may be despairing and discouraged.  The only expectation you have is that things are going to get worse.  That your past sins and failures are just too great.  Living for God - at school - at work - a home - wherever - being Godly - coming through for God - you don’t have what it takes.

Be encouraged by Hezekiah.  Hezekiah lived in a dysfunctional family in depraved nation  But he expected God to move.  He was committed to hanging in there and letting God deal with the deep issues of his life. 

When God moved he was prepared.  Prepared - without hesitation to take leadership in removing sin.  To openly put his life in God’s hands - trusting God.  To cling to God.  To boldly live out God’s version of prosperity - doing the right thing at the right time.  To be used by God to lead a nation back to God.




Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.