What King Hezekiah Can Teach You
The organization that publishes the Trumpet magazine also sponsors a small liberal arts institution: Herbert W. Armstrong College. Our college recently received recognition for an exciting archaeological discovery in Jerusalem. It was a small clay seal belonging to one of the greatest kings in Judah’s history, King Hezekiah.
2 Kings 18:5 says this about Hezekiah: “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.” What a commendation! And what a message this small clay seal has, if people will listen. It is a message the world desperately needs to hear.
The head archaeologist who unveiled the find, Dr. Eilat Mazar, said the bulla is “the closest as ever that we can get to something that was most likely held by King Hezekiah, himself.” Hebrew University wrote in a statement that the discovery “vividly brings to life the biblical narratives about King Hezekiah and the activity conducted during his lifetime in Jerusalem’s royal quarter.”
The bulla was actually found in material excavated back in 2009. But Dr. Mazar and her team didn’t realize until 2015, after it had been wet-sifted and processed, that this bulla has an inscription reading: “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz king of Judah.”
At the time it was found, the excavating was being done by three people, two of whom were our Herbert W. Armstrong College students: Brent Nagtegaal and Harley Breth. So we were directly involved in what turned out to be a massive discovery!
The find was widely reported in international media. The Hebrew University statement described how “students and alumni of Herbert W. Armstrong College from Edmond, Oklahoma, participated in the excavation.” Several media reports, including Haaretz and Arutz Sheva, included this detail. Dr. Mazar drew attention to us. Many reports also pointed to our website keytodavidscity.com, where we posted a video that we produced about the find. That video has circulated around the Internet and has been viewed over 350,000 times on YouTube. It has a copyright of “Eilat Mazar and Herbert W. Armstrong College.” We find it remarkable, even providential, that our college would have the privilege to be involved in something like this.
Other seals of King Hezekiah have been available on the antiquities market since the 1990s. But their origins are suspect. The bulla Dr. Mazar unearthed in 2009 is the first seal impression of an Israelite or Judean king that has ever been found in a scientific archaeological excavation.
Even secular sources corroborate the existence of King Hezekiah and, by extension, the veracity of the Bible (page 18). Uncovering this bulla right in the royal quarter of Jerusalem adds exciting proof and detail to what we know about this king, and we were directly involved in such a significant find.
A History With Bullae
The Hezekiah bulla is not the first seal impression of a Judean noble that we have been interested in. In 2005 and in 2008, Dr. Mazar’s team unearthed bullae belonging to Jehucal and Gedaliah, respectively. These were two Judean princes who persecuted the Prophet Jeremiah. Both are named in Jeremiah 38:1. These two seals powerfully corroborate the record Jeremiah wrote.
Miraculously, the first place these two bullae were publicly displayed was at our facilities in Edmond, Oklahoma. Dr. Mazar agreed that Armstrong Auditorium would be an appropriate place to display these amazing archaeological finds, and the Israel Antiquities Authority approved. The “Seals of Jeremiah’s Captors Discovered” exhibit was on display to more than 4,000 visitors, and thousands more concertgoers who visited Armstrong Auditorium for over three years.
In many ways the Hezekiah bulla is an even greater find, with more historical significance. It is certainly a much more inspiring find because of what Hezekiah represented.
Purifying the Nation
Look at what Hezekiah accomplished as king. 2 Chronicles 29 shows that when he took office at age 25, “he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done” (verse 2). King Hezekiah refused to follow the idolatrous path of his father, King Ahaz (2 Chronicles 28:24-25). He saw the spiritual filthiness of his nation and immediately began to purge all pagan practices. He cleansed the temple, which had fallen into disuse and disrepair. He prodded the priesthood to purify themselves and serve God once again (2 Chronicles 29:11-17). He eradicated idolatry. He singlehandedly put the nation back on course to properly worship the true God. It’s amazing what one man can do when he zealously commits himself to God.
Hezekiah resumed the temple sacrifices (verses 20-21). He also pointed the nation back to King David and reestablished the beautiful, uplifting, inspiring music service of the temple (verses 25-26). Under his leadership, the Jews praised God with all their might! (verses 27-29). The nation returned to the basics: following great examples like King David and obeying God. This is a blueprint we all need to follow!
Those past events are a type of what is happening in this end time. As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:11, what happened anciently is an example for us. The story of Hezekiah applies to the end-time nations of Israel: America, Britain and the Jewish nation in the Middle East. God hates how they have become the modern Sodom and Gomorrah. He is going to remove all the filth in these lands.
King Hezekiah inspired the people to establish a habit of cheerful giving (2 Chronicles 29:31). The Jews gave offerings in such abundance that “the priests were too few” to process them all (verses 34-35). This is a good problem to have! God’s work always has too few supporters; it can always use more people who will give their lives in service to it. Hezekiah also commanded the people to resume tithing of their income (2 Chronicles 31:5). God truly blesses us as we obey such commands, doing God’s will in every aspect of our lives.
Hezekiah also led the people to resume keeping the holy days. He wrote letters to all of Judah and Israel to encourage them to attend the Passover and Days of Unleavened Bread services at the temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 30:1-9). Sadly, many of the people refused to follow Hezekiah in this righteous cause (verse 10). But many people humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem to keep the holy days (verses 11-12). Look what happened to those who obeyed: True joy began to flow in their lives. Verse 21 says they “kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with great gladness”—or “great delight” (Moffatt).
This is how to have joy in your life! “So 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” (verse 26). If you don’t have this joy in your life, check your dedication to serving God. Follow Hezekiah’s example, and serve God with all your might!
Those who didn’t humble themselves and obey didn’t enjoy this happiness. Is there any way those scoffers could have been truly happy? Look at this world. Do you see great joy in America, Britain and Judah? No—you see terrible problems, fears, anxieties and stress-induced sickness. There is a cause for every effect. The cause for the problems that plague our peoples is sin.
Obey God! What joy it gives us when we do things the way God wants them done!
A Monumental Trial
Setting the kingdom of Judah back on track spiritually was courageous, arduous, difficult work for Hezekiah. But after that came a monumental trial.
“After these things, and the establishment thereof, Sennacherib king of Assyria came, and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself” (2 Chronicles 32:1). Assyria was a fearsome superpower at the time. The armies of King Sennacherib were massive. They could not be beaten by any physical army, and they struck terror in nations! The Jews were greatly outnumbered and had no hope of withstanding this daunting enemy.
To understand how terrifying the Assyrian army must have been to the Jews, think about the modern descendants of the Assyrians under Adolf Hitler. Hitler’s goal was to exterminate every Jew in Europe and eventually the world. His fanatical anti-Semitism stemmed from his hatred for God! God entrusted the Jews with preserving His oracles and the Hebrew calendar, so Satan used Hitler to try to wipe them out. Hitler nearly succeeded, killing 6 million Jews and causing the deaths of 60 million people total in World War ii. The Bible prophesies the Assyrian war machine will be far more destructive the next time around. We can see that prophecy borne out in the proliferation and scale of the advanced weaponry that exists today.
Notice how Hezekiah responded in crisis. “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” (2 Kings 19:1‑2). Hezekiah took his problem to God!
This king had many problems, as we all do. But one thing he did right was that he became close friends with the Prophet Isaiah. Not many national leaders look to men of God as this king did. Hezekiah took advantage of his opportunity to learn from God’s man and to reap the benefits.
“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” (verse 6). Sennacherib had sent messengers to taunt Hezekiah and threaten the Jews in their own language. He had the gall to compare the living God with the idols of pagan nations (verses 10-13, 17-18). God took this insult personally.
Let God Fight Your Battles
Hezekiah put this hopeless situation completely into God’s hands. He cried out to God for deliverance. God heard Hezekiah’s prayer and gave a courage-building reply through Isaiah: “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” (2 Kings 19:32-34).
Herbert W. Armstrong wrote about this history in a March 1985 Good News article titled “Let God Fight Your Battles.” The Jews facing the Assyrians “were helpless. They faced certain defeat—just as you may feel helpless in the face of your troubles today,” he wrote. “If some of you try to solve your problem or overcome your bad habits or resist sin in nothing more than your own power and strength, you, too, will find yourself outnumbered, overpowered and doomed to defeat!
“You must learn, as this ancient king did, that God stands ready and willing to fight your battles for you.”
We all face battles. And this is simply a towering lesson from the life of King Hezekiah that we must learn! God must fight our battles—or we will not win! If we don’t rely on God, then we won’t win our battles. And if we are not winning battles, this is the reason!
How do you achieve success in life? Here is how: Let God fight your battles for you! We all have battles. We have to fight and win. And we will win if we fight with God’s power and not our own.
Hezekiah believed God and acted swiftly. He cut off the Assyrian army’s water supply by diverting the spring through “Hezekiah’s Tunnel” (2 Chronicles 32:2-3). You can still walk through that tunnel beneath Jerusalem today. He also rebuilt and fortified the city’s defenses and produced a plethora of weapons (verse 5). This too is a crucial lesson: If we expect God to fight battles for us, we must do our part. God wants to see how much we will sweat and strain and toil and even dig through rock to reach the pure water of the Holy Spirit. It takes an abundance of hard work to access this divine power, but if we do, God will remove every last Sennacherib who opposes us.
Hezekiah passed God’s encouraging words on to the people, inspiring them to trust God (verses 6-8). And what did God do? “So the Eternal rescued Hezekiah and the citizens of Jerusalem from Sennacherib the king of Assyria as well as from all other foes, protecting them on every side” (verse 22; Moffatt). God sent a death angel into the Assyrian camp by night to slaughter 185,000 troops (2 Kings 19:35). He supernaturally wiped out the entire Assyrian force that had gathered against Jerusalem! Sennacherib returned home in disgrace and was eventually killed by his own sons (verses 36-37).
God is the ultimate soldier. He won an absolute, crushing victory.
Realize that this is written for you! It doesn’t matter what foe you have, or what worry or distraction or fear, or if you have a siege of troubles—God says you can solve it and conquer it! You still haven’t had any kind of troubles like Hezekiah had, and look how he solved this problem! If you obey and trust God, you can solve the problems in your life. You could have 10 million soldiers coming after you. That is something you can face and overcome if you just obey and trust in God. That is a wonderful truth.
There is a deep lesson for the physical nations of Israel today in what Hezekiah accomplished. These are times of grave national sins. Hezekiah shows how to save a nation! How could Jerusalem be saved today? Or America, or Britain? Hezekiah teaches us that.
God’s Protective Wings
Look at the picture of that bulla (page 19). At the center is a small circle representing the sun. And Hezekiah had it depicted with wings, outspread and oriented down a bit. Today, more than 2,700 years later, one of his seals has made headlines around the world. People are studying its symbols closely.
What might a circle with downturned wings mean? It symbolizes the fiery, all-powerful God who is also a God of love! It shows that God shelters and protectsus! That when we face tribulation, God will simply wrap us up in His wings. God even told Hezekiah through Isaiah that He was like a bird flying over and protecting Jerusalem (Isaiah 31:5). He will rescue us from trials, whether they are related to health, finances, persecution or even invading armies! That is quite a symbol.
That symbol points to a statement Jesus Christ made in Matthew 23:37: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” God wanted to protect His people, just like He did Hezekiah. He would shelter them if they would just obey Him! But what do they do? They kill the prophets and stone those who come to help them!
What would it do for Jerusalem today if the Jews would turn to God the way Hezekiah did? What do you think would become of all the rocket attacks and stabbings that have been occurring there? What would it do for America and Britain? Their problems would be solved! In this age of terror, the Hezekiah bulla should resonate with the Jews more than any election or policy or self-defense strategy. The story of this great king shows the Jews and the other descendants of ancient Israel how to solve our problems!
We don’t expect the nations of Israel to heed this wonderful message. These nations are already past the point of no return. But if they followed this example, God would do for them exactly what He did for Judah under King Hezekiah.
This world needs hope. We are in dark times that are getting darker. Terrorist attacks like those that killed people in Paris and San Bernardino are becoming a way of life. The Jews in the Middle East are facing nation-threatening problems—some are concerned they could lose Jerusalem! And the truth is that the modern descendants of the Assyrian Empire that threatened Hezekiah’s Judah are rising again—and Bible prophecy tells us that they are going to deal a deathblow to America, Britain (the birthright nations) and the Jewish state (the scepter nation)! God is going to use that same empire to punish those three nations most of all, because of their rebellion against Him.
God will use Germany to purge America, Britain and Judah of sin (Isaiah 10:5). The Germans are subtly rearming and controlling more and more territory. They are moving into the Middle East with soldiers.
Our peoples have an inexplicable disdain for history. Just 70 years ago, United States President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill pledged never to allow Germany to rise again. Just a few years ago, few people would have imagined Germany providing armaments to much of the world. Yet today, this is a profitable sector of its economy! Today, Germany is more powerful than ever.
The Germans are coming! The Assyrians are on the march once again. God is going to correct our people. The Messiah is coming soon, whether people heed the warning or not.
I am sure this is why God is putting Hezekiah’s bulla in the spotlight right now. That bulla has a message of tremendous hope, especially for these three nations! As our nations face threats of annihilation, here is a symbol of hope in the face of grave danger: the Hezekiah bulla. The story of Hezekiah really shows the Jews and the other nations of Israel how to solve their problems. It shows us physically and spiritually how to win our battles!