Chapter 12: Hezekiah Is Tested
There are many lessons we must learn from Israel’s and Judah’s history. Hezekiah was considered one of Judah’s greatest kings. At one point in Hezekiah’s reign of Judah, Assyria was about to destroy the nation. Hezekiah appealed to God through Isaiah and God miraculously saved the nation by destroying the entire Assyrian army (2 Kings 19:35; Isaiah 37:36). God had said in Isaiah 37 that He would defend this city—and He did! God solved this major problem for Hezekiah and the nation of Judah. You can study more about this incident in Isaiah 37, 2 Kings 18-19 and 2 Chronicles 32.
During this same time, Hezekiah had to face another big problem. “In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came unto him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live” (Isaiah 38:1). Isaiah came to Hezekiah and told him that he would die as a result of his sickness. This came as quite a shock to Hezekiah, but he humbly appealed to the Eternal!
“Then Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, And said, Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore” (verses 2-3). Hezekiah turned to God and prayed. Look at how God responded to Hezekiah’s prayer. “Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying, Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years” (verses 4-5). God saw that Hezekiah was walking by faith. He saw Hezekiah’s tears. Isn’t it impressive that God took note of his tears? God added 15 years to Hezekiah’s life.
This was another great miracle that God performed for Hezekiah. “And this shall be a sign unto thee from the Lord, that the Lord will do this thing that he hath spoken; Behold, I will bring again the shadow of the degrees, which is gone down in the sun dial of Ahaz, ten degrees backward. So the sun returned ten degrees, by which degrees it was gone down” (verses 7-8). God reversed the rotation of the Earth to prove to Hezekiah that He would fulfill His promises to him. Although God performed some mighty miracles for him, Hezekiah had more testing to endure.
A Serious Mistake
Not long after his healing, the king of Babylon sent communication and a gift to Judah’s king. But was he really concerned about Hezekiah?
“At that time Merodach-baladan, the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah: for he had heard that he had been sick, and was recovered. And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not” (Isaiah 39:1-2).
Notice what 2 Chronicles records about what was actually taking place: “Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:31). Hezekiah was being tested here and he made a serious mistake! He became puffed up knowing that the king of Babylon was so concerned about him. In his vanity, he showed the king’s messengers all of his treasures—a terrible error.
Isaiah was more suspicious and wise about the king of Babylon’s message. Isaiah came and asked Hezekiah some hard questions. “Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, even from Babylon. Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that is in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them” (verses 3-4).
Notice here that Hezekiah did not answer Isaiah’s first question (“What said these men?”)—he completely ignored it! He did answer Isaiah’s second question. Why did Hezekiah not answer the first question? Could it be that Hezekiah did not answer the first question because he was cozying up to Babylon?
Too Close to Babylon
Hezekiah was dealing with a real vanity problem. Notice that he answered Isaiah’s question in a boastful manner. A king from a far country was interested in him. He told Isaiah that they were come “unto me.” Hezekiah showed them all of his treasures. In his vanity, he allowed potential enemies to see all that God had blessed him with. Never did it dawn on Hezekiah that these men could possibly want to destroy him and carry off his treasures.
Isaiah was concerned about Hezekiah’s actions because he could see far better than Hezekiah could—spiritually speaking. Isaiah did not trust the king of Babylon. He recognized that Hezekiah was getting too close to Babylon. He prophesied about the end result of Hezekiah’s relationship with the king of Babylon. Isaiah showed that this relationship would prove to be fatal, not only for Hezekiah’s descendants, but for the nation of Judah as well. “Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that is in thine house, and that which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the Lord. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon” (Isaiah 39:5-7). His actions were the beginning of the undoing of his family’s lives and of the nation of Judah. About 100 years later, the king of Babylon destroyed God’s temple and carried the nation of Judah away captive.
Facing Hard Questions
There is a clear lesson here for all of us. What was Hezekiah’s main problem? He evaded some hard questions from God’s prophet. He did not want to tell Isaiah what the messengers from Babylon said. At times it is so easy for us to evade hard questions. Carnally, we want to let the hard questions slide. Facing, or not facing, hard questions generally marks a turning point in our lives. Being willing to face hard questions can turn our lives around spiritually. Evading hard questions can take us away from God.
Hezekiah evaded a hard question from Isaiah. But Isaiah pinned him down (Isaiah 39:4). Isaiah wanted to show him that he was relying on his own treasure or strength instead of on God. Isaiah wanted Hezekiah to recognize that, in reality, he was relying on and cozying up to Babylon as an ally—and eventually the whole nation ended up being conquered by Babylon. What a terrifying punishment!
What about us? Sometimes God, through His ministers, has to ask us some very hard questions. Do we evade the questions or do we face them? What is the main problem with the Laodiceans today? They do not want to face the really hard questions like why all of these doctrinal changes? They don’t want to face the really hard question: Was Herbert W. Armstrong God’s end-time Elijah? The reason is that they want to be a part of Babylon. They want to rely on their own treasure and Babylon. God’s Laodicean Church isn’t much different from the people of the United States and Great Britain. They are all trusting in Babylon. And they are all going to be enslaved by Babylon—modern Germany and the European Union.
As God’s people, we must learn that we cannot cozy up to Babylon and also be close to God. We cannot hold back or compromise with God and His way of life. If we do, we will receive a free trip to Babylon like the ancient Jews did. This will be a terrifying punishment.
Today, the Laodiceans are making alliances with Babylon and destroying God’s temple in the process. They have forgotten that God is measuring His temple now (Revelation 11:1). God’s Church is His temple on Earth today. God is not going to allow the Laodiceans to destroy what He built through Mr. Armstrong without punishment. The history surrounding Hezekiah teaches us this lesson.
Thankfully, however, there are indications that, ultimately, King Hezekiah responded to the correction from God and repented.
Notice how the account in 2 Kings 20 concludes: “And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah?” (verse 20). God ends the Hezekiah account with all of this man’s good works, so he must have repented!
Sennacherib corroborates the biblical narrative of King Hezekiah digging a 1,700-foot tunnel 2,700 years ago for the Gihon Spring to enter the fortified walls of Jerusalem. This water is a type of the Holy Spirit. For God to mention this feat at the close of the story, Hezekiah must have fully repented and returned to properly using the Holy Spirit. So the book of Kings concludes Hezekiah’s story positively.
King Hezekiah knew how to use God’s power.
Speaking of Hezekiah’s life, 2 Chronicles 32:25-26 read, “But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.” This seems to be an explicit reference to Hezekiah’s repentance.
Another reference might be Ezra’s comment a few verses down in verse 33: “And Hezekiah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the chiefest of the sepulchres of the sons of David: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem did him honour at his death.” The Hebrew indicates this is a position higher both in elevation and in honor. The fact that he received such honor also strongly indicates the spiritual state in which Hezekiah finished his noble life, in service to the great God.
Perhaps the best evidence indicating that Hezekiah repented is found in 2 Kings 18:5-6, which provide an overall summation of Hezekiah’s life: “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. For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses.”