The Good King (18:1-8)
In this story, we have two kings that we’re going to talk about.
The first king is named Hezekiah.
He is the king of Judah in 701 BC, that’s about 2700 years ago.
Judah is the Southern Kingdom of Israel.
Israel is God’s chosen people, and in this story we’re focusing on only a part of Israel.
Here’s what the Bible says about Hezekiah:
3 He did what was pleasing in the LORD’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done.
4 He removed the pagan shrines, smashed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles.
He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made, because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it.
The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan.
5 Hezekiah trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel.
There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before or after his time.
6 He remained faithful to the LORD in everything, and he carefully obeyed all the commands the LORD had given Moses.
7 So the LORD was with him, and Hezekiah was successful in everything he did.
He revolted against the king of Assyria and refused to pay him tribute.
8 He also conquered the Philistines as far distant as Gaza and its territory, from their smallest outpost to their largest walled city.
Hezekiah was a good king.
He’s the good guy of this story.
He knew God, loved God, obeyed God, and did good things for God.
Hezekiah was an all-around good dude.
The Bible even says there was no other king that was like him!
Hezekiah would have been a good king to be under.
The Evil King (18:13-18)
With every good guy, what do we need?
Exactly, a bad guy.
There was a nearby nation called Assyria.
The king of Assyria was this guy named Sennacherib.
Assyria was a super evil nation that the Bible talks a lot about.
They were always conquering nations, making them into their slaves, plundering kingdoms, and being all around evil.
Fourteen years after Hezekiah began to be king in Judah, Sennacherib attacked many of the cities of Judah, and he conquered them.
Sennacherib Threatens Judah (18:19-37)
At this point, Hezekiah was probably really scared.
Why was he so scared?
Since Assyria had conquered these cities, Hezekiah was vulnerable.
Hezekiah was currently in Jerusalem, which is the capital city.
With his other cities having been taken over by Assyria, he was stuck.
And he started to get desperate.
He sent a message to Sennacherib and said,
14 King Hezekiah sent this message to the king of Assyria at Lachish: “I have done wrong.
I will pay whatever tribute money you demand if you will only withdraw.”
The king of Assyria then demanded a settlement of more than eleven tons of silver and one ton of gold.
Hezekiah tried to pay off Sennacherib with gold.
He desperately got all of the gold and silver that he could and gave it to the king.
He even stripped the temple of its gold in order to pay.
So now that Hezekiah did this, you’d think that’s it, right?
Once Sennacherib got his gold and silver, he sent a massive army to Jerusalem.
He camped his army right outside the city.
Hezekiah may have thought he was safe, but Assyria just so happened to show up at his doorstep.
Sennacherib sends a message to the people of Judah in Jerusalem, mocking and challenging them.
Here’s what he says:
What are you trusting in that makes you so confident?
20 Do you think that mere words can substitute for military skill and strength?
Who are you counting on, that you have rebelled against me?
21 On Egypt?
If you lean on Egypt, it will be like a reed that splinters beneath your weight and pierces your hand.
Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is completely unreliable!
22 “But perhaps you will say to me, ‘We are trusting in the LORD our God!’
But isn’t he the one who was insulted by Hezekiah?
Didn’t Hezekiah tear down his shrines and altars and make everyone in Judah and Jerusalem worship only at the altar here in Jerusalem?
23 “I’ll tell you what!
Strike a bargain with my master, the king of Assyria.
I will give you 2,000 horses if you can find that many men to ride on them!
24 With your tiny army, how can you think of challenging even the weakest contingent of my master’s troops, even with the help of Egypt’s chariots and charioteers?
25 What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the LORD’s direction?
The LORD himself told us, ‘Attack this land and destroy it!’
Sennacherib basically says to Judah that they are weak, and there is no chance that they can win.
He says that words won’t help them, their armies won’t help them, other nations won’t help them, and God won’t help them.
He even mocks God by saying Assyria was sent by God to attack Judah.
He doesn’t stop there, he then says:
Don’t let Hezekiah deceive you.
He will never be able to rescue you from my power.
30 Don’t let him fool you into trusting in the LORD by saying, ‘The LORD will surely rescue us.
This city will never fall into the hands of the Assyrian king!’
31 “Don’t listen to Hezekiah!
These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out.
Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well.
32 Then I will arrange to take you to another land like this one—a land of grain and new wine, bread and vineyards, olive groves and honey.
Choose life instead of death!
“Don’t listen to Hezekiah when he tries to mislead you by saying, ‘The LORD will rescue us!’ 33 Have the gods of any other nations ever saved their people from the king of Assyria? 34 What happened to the gods of Hamath and Arpad?
And what about the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivvah?
Did any god rescue Samaria from my power?
35 What god of any nation has ever been able to save its people from my power?
So what makes you think that the LORD can rescue Jerusalem from me?”
Sennacherib was incredibly confident in himself and his armies.
He knew that Judah stood absolutely no chance.
Hezekiah’s Desperation (19:1-4)
Hezekiah was desperate now.
He was surrounded, outnumbered, and had no way of winning this battle.
In his desperation, Hezekiah sends some of his most trusted men to the prophet Isaiah, to see if they can get some kind of word from the Lord.
These men tell Isaiah that they are in trouble, and being insulted and mocked.
God Promises to Win (19:5-7)
When Isaiah hears this, he gives them a message to bring back to Hezekiah:
This is what the LORD says: Do not be disturbed by this blasphemous speech against me from the Assyrian king’s messengers.
I myself will move against him, and the king will receive a message that he is needed at home.
So he will return to his land, where I will have him killed with a sword.’