Trusting in God

Explore the Bible Series

August 8, 2004

 

Background Passage: II Kings 18:1-19:37

Lesson Passages: II Kings 18:30; 19:1-3, 5-7, 14-19

 

Introduction: King Hezekiah ruled Judah in the aftermath of his fatherís wicked sixteen-year reign.Despite the unspeakable wickedness of his father, Hezekiah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and he ruled Judah with deep faith in Jehovah, moral integrity, and remarkable obedience.However, his profound godliness did not exempt him from periods a great trial and difficulty, and II Kings records the first of two severe trials he encountered.More importantly, the text reveals the kinds of mistakes godly people may make in the midst of difficulties and how the preserving grace of God brings the Lordís people through these trials to glorious victory and joy.

 

Major Characters:

Please note that the chronology of the portion of Scripture proves difficult. The dates given, therefore, are approximations.

††††††††††† King Hezekiah, son of wicked King Ahaz, served as the fourteenth king of Judah and reigned for twenty-nine years. He apparently served as co-regent with his father and began his rule of Judah c. 715 B.C.Great godliness characterized his reign; however, he faced grave difficulties throughout his life.The Prophet Isaiah served as a faithful confidant and advisor to Hezekiah.

††††††††††† Shalmaneser V ruled Assyria for a brief period (c. 727-722 B.C.) after Tiglath-pileser.He laid siege to Israel for three years and, in all probability subdued the Northern Kingdom (c. 721).

††††††††††† Sargon II apparently usurped the throne of Assyria from Shalmaneser c. 722 B.C.He was known for his military prowess and was the father of Sennacharib.

††††††††††† Sennacharib was the son and successor of Sargon II and ruled Assyria from c. 705 to 681 B.C. He enjoyed considerable military success against the Babylonians and Egyptians.Before his remarkable defeat before the angel of the Lord, Sennacharib permanently established the Assyrian capitol at Nineveh.He died at the hands of his own sons in 681.

 

I.                   The Background and Godly Character of Hezekiah (II Kings 18:1-8)

A.     The Family Background of King Hezekiah (18:1-2)

These were bleak days for the ancient people of God.Hezekiah knew first hand the terrible spiritual decline of Judah because his father Ahaz led Judah, for sixteen years, into idolatry, divination, and human sacrifice.Furthermore, he struck an alliance with the tyrannical Tiglath-pileser, king of the Assyrians.The Northern Kingdom stood at the threshold of political and social disaster as the Assyrians ominously threatened to destroy them.

B.     Hezekiahís Godly Character (18:3-8)

Merciful God overruled Hezekiahís ungodly background, and the king of Judah became a man of great faith and godliness.The author of II Kings commended Hezekiah very highly for his great character (vv. 5-6).The text makes it perfectly clear that the kingís obedience grew from his formidable faith in God.His obedience to God included internal, deep devotion to the Lord and a public, cultural mandate to lead Judah away from the wicked idolatry that troubled them for years. The king demonstrated his confidence in God by refusing to pay tribute to the Assyrians as wicked King Ahaz had done (v.7).

 

II.                The Assyrian Threat to the Nation of Judah (II Kings 18:9-37)

A.     Assyriaís Conquest of Israel (18:9-12)††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Four years after Hezekiah assumed the throne of Judah, Israel fell to the military onslaught of Shalmaneser, king of the Assyrians.The text, however, makes clear that this horrific defeat came as a result Godís judgment upon the Northern Kingdom (v. 12).No doubt, Shalmaneser was an ungodly man; yet, even the wicked kings of the earth become instruments of providence in the hands of a sovereign God.Jehovah regards the nations of the earth, even the most wicked, powerful, and oppressive, as mere dust in the balance (Isaiah 40:15).

B.     Hezekiahís Capitulation to Sennacharib (18:13-16)

Fresh from his military successes to the north, Sennacharib marshaled his troops against Judah, and Hezekiah made a considerable effort to appease the Assyrian monarch.Hezekiah had, to this point, resisted paying tribute to Assyria, but now he raised an enormous tribute, and Judahís king did not hesitate even to strip gold embellishments from the Temple in an effort to appease the Assyrians.The kingís effort to appease Sennacharib probably indicates that his faith in God had flagged considerably during the immanent threat of a powerful army at his doorstep.

 

Christians, faced with grave difficulties, should use appropriate means to meet the demands of the moment; however, these efforts may easily degenerate into an unworthy lack of trust in the powerful hand of God to sustain and deliver his people in his time and ways.

C.     Assyrian Intimidation of the Lordís People (18:17-37)

Sennacharib sent his messengers to Judah to humiliate and intimidate them into submission.These heralds of doom denigrated King Hezekiah, extolled the power and affluence of the Assyrians, and, above all, demonstrated their disregard for the God of Judah.Hezekiah ordered his emissaries to remain silent before Sennacharibís henchmen.

 

Godís people often must endure the threats and intimidation of Satan and his servants.Believers should not consider the hatred of the world as anything novel of unusual.Recall that our Lord stood silent before theaccusations and threats of his enemies, and Christians will have similar experiences as well.Jesus taught his disciples that those who hated him would also despise his people (Matthew 10:22-26).

III.             Hezekiahís Hope in the Lord (II Kings 19:1-34)

A.     Isaiahís Intervention (19:1-7)

God did not leave his people without help, encouragement, and hope.The poor, hapless king tore his clothes in anguish over the seemingly hopeless situation, and he sent his servant to the Prophet Isaiah.Finally, having exhausted his resources, Hezekiah turned to hear a word from the Lord.††† The great prophet counseled the king to stop his ears to the threats of Sennacharib and await the delivering hand of Jehovah.

B.     Sennacharibís Unrelenting Assault on Judah (19:8-13)

After a time, the Assyrian monarch renewed his menacing remarks against Judah.The forces of evil seldom grow weary in their assault on the godly.This wicked man persisted in his attempts to subdue Judah with his words of mockery.

C.     Hezekiahís Earnest Prayer to the Lord (19:14-19)††

Hezekiah finally took his plight to God in prayer.He laid the threatening letter of Sennacharib before the Lord, and called upon his name in earnest supplication.Note that the king began and ended his prayer with an emphasis on the glory of God.His motives were pure.He longed to see the nations subdued before his Sovereign.

 

Why do believers so often turn to prayer as a final recourse rather than seek the Lord as an initial resource?Finally, the king has the two components of Godís help in place: the word of God (from the Prophet Isaiah) and heartfelt prayer.These are the weapons of our warfare, and Christians must turn to our means of grace without hesitation.

D.     Godís Answer to Hezekiahís Prayer (19:20-34)

God answered Hezekiahís prayer by addressing his judgments toward Sennacharib.God pledged, despite the Assyrian kingís haughty spirit, that soon Sennacharib would come to ruin.Furthermore, the Lord assured Hezekiah that Judah would remain secure in the protection of Providence.

 

IV.              Sennacharibís Defeat and Final Ruin (19:35-37)

A.     In terse but powerful language the Scriptures describe the remarkable defeat of the Assyrian army at the hands of the angel of the Lord (v. 35).185,000 men died without any intervention by Judahís defenses.

B.     Sennacharib returned to Nineveh in shock and disgrace, and, as the Lord had promised, he met with a dreadful end at the treacherous hand of his own sons.