In 2 Chronicles, the Bible tells the story of Hezekiah, an ancient king of Judah. Originally, there were twelve tribes that made up the nation of Israel. But during the reign of King Solomon’s son Rehoboam, ten tribes rebelled and separated themselves from his leadership.
While the ten defecting tribes kept the name Israel, the large tribe around Jerusalem was called Judah. There were now two kingdom, with two kings, often at odds with each other, and many of whom were considered evil in the sight of the Lord.
At the time, both Israel and Judah continually had difficulty remaining loyal to their God, often turning away and following the gods of their neighbors. But Hezekiah was one of the good kings. According to the Bible, “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord, just as his father David had done.” The word “father” in this sense refers to his ancestor, King David.
Hezekiah took over at the age of 25, and immediately started restoring the worship of Jehovah. Previously, his predecessor and father, Ahaz, had closed the doors of the temple, and led the kingdom into idol worship.
This should actually give some of us hope. Even if you come from a very troubled past, or rough family history, it doesn’t mean you have to go the same way. Ahaz led the people away from God, but his son led them back to God.
He went about it in a brilliant way too. The Levites were a line of priests who had been set apart, much like ministers today. But even they had fallen prey to idolatry. This happens to us too. No one is immune from temptation and failure.
So he started with them. He brought them all together in an assembly and stated his case. He confessed the sins of the nation, and told them what they needed to do to make it right.
Hezekiah realized he needed to get the leaders on board first. If you want to reach the people, reach the leaders. Whatever you’re representing, find the influential people. They’ll make the case for you.
Actually, he really started with himself. He did the right things, and held himself accountable by telling the Levite leaders what he was going to do, personally. He led by example.
Once the temple and priests had been restored, he sent couriers to all the people in both kingdoms. While many ridiculed him, there were still a large number that listened, and came together.
You can’t reach everyone, and not everyone is going to see things the way you do. All you can do is put it out there. I remember an old sales saying: “Some will, some won’t. So what.” Do what you do. Even barking dogs finally get tired of barking. Meanwhile, you keep rolling.
So a great revival swept the land, and many began following God again. But even as the people were being blessed, an Assyrian King named Sennacherib came against them with his powerful army.
There are a couple of lessons in this as well. First, we’re always just moments away from something beyond our control. It can be going well, and then, “Bam!” This usually happens right when you’re thinking, “Hey, I got this.”
Second, success sometimes brings haters with it. People often confuse confidence with arrogance. Occasionally, people would rather see you fall, then work to raise themselves up. You can’t let that stop you.
The Assyrian representatives made demands of Hezekiah and his people. When that didn’t work, the Assyrians ridiculed Hezekiah and his God, in front of his people. They waged a war of public relations to turn the people against him.
It may have been working, because the Bible says, “King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz cried out in prayer to heaven about this.” Sometimes all we can do is cry out in prayer.
God answered by sending his angel, who destroyed all the Assyrian fighting men, and King Sennacherib returned to his own country in disgrace. When he got there, his own sons killed him. God’s solution might be a little different from what you expected.
Hezekiah and Judah were respected by all nations, and the Bible says that God “took care of them on every side.” Oh, that our nation could return to this status.
The last point that strikes me in the story of Hezekiah is that even a great king can make some mistakes. Near the end of his life, Hezekiah became very ill, almost dying. But he prayed for help, and received a miraculous healing.
Unfortunately, his “heart was proud,” which caused problems for both him and Judah. Our pride often gets the best of us, and can turn us away from our strengths. A heart of gratitude will go a long way to prevent that.
In the end, Hezekiah was one of the good ones, and he “succeeded in everything he undertook.” He left an amazing legacy of faith and prosperity, and the Bible says, “All Judah and Jerusalem honored him when he died.” A great leader, and a great example!