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Isaiah and Four Kings -- Part 2

We’re in the process of building the framework of Isaiah, like we build the frame of a jigsaw puzzle, so the pieces of Isaiah can be filled in chapter by chapter.

We’ve seen Isaiah and his message and began looking at Isaiah’s times as we learn about the kings under which he prophesied. King Uzziah and then King Jotham both did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, yet they both were unfaithful to God in different areas of their lives. Today we will see King Ahaz and King Hezekiah in sharp contrast to one another.

 

King Ahaz: II Chronicles 28, II Kings 6

King Ahaz was 20 years old when he began his reign in Judah and reigned for 16 years. Where his father Jotham was unwilling to take a stand against idolatry, Ahaz fell into total idolatry.

His heart: II Chronicles 28:1 Unlike his father he did not do right in the eyes of the LORD. What did he do? 

1.     vs 2 – followed the ways of Israel and cast idols to worship Baal

2.     vs 3 followed the detestable ways of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites ie. burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his sons in the fire

3.     Used the high places to worship other gods.

His reign:

II Chronicles28:5 Ahaz at the hand of God would pay the consequences of his sin in keeping with the law that God had given Moses. Man’s faithfulness would bring about blessings and disobedience would bring about cursing. (Deuteronomy 28) The Lord handed Judah over to their enemies – Syria and Israel. Syria (Aram) killed 120,000 Judeans in one day and Israel killed Ahaz’s son and took 200,000 women and children captive taking them back to the capital of Israel, Samaria.

In Second Chronicles 28:15 we see that Israel at the warning of Oded the prophet returned their captives because of the fear of God’s great anger resting upon them.

 

What was Ahaz doing during this time?

Verse 16 He was looking to the King of Assyria for help.

Verse 20 Says that Assyria just gave him trouble instead of help. Not even buying them off would help Judah. Ahaz even tried to bribe him (vs 21)

Where was Isaiah? When we study Isaiah chapter 7, we will hear Isaiah’s plea to King Ahaz not to go to Assyria for help. He need not fear Assyria for they would not be defeated. King Ahaz was warned to “stand firm in his faith or he would not stand at all!”

Ahaz was a king who lived his whole life in idolatry and led his people into full blown idolatry, even closing the temple. Verse 22 says that he became more unfaithful in his time of trouble. Ahaz had the voice of truth through Isaiah.  He had a chance to turn to God and chose not to, rejecting the help of the LORD. Ahaz ran to man and his gods for help and rejected the word of the Lord – the voice of truth.  Ahaz died a man in trouble – not at peace with himself or God!

Where do you run when you need help? To people, to what you see or do you stand firm in your faith, trusting God to make a way and unfold his wisdom and knowledge?

 

King Hezekiah: II Chronicles 29-32, II Kings 18-20

Then in sharp contrast to King Ahaz’s leadership we have the reign of King Hezekiah. The son of Ahaz, was 25 years old when he became king and reigned for 29 years.

His heart:

II Chronicles 29:2 – Hezekiah “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD” not like his father, but “just as his father David.” God reflects back onto Hezekiah’ roots. Only by the grace of God did he break free from the idolatry of his father and usher in a revival to Judah!

Verses 8-9 shows us that Hezekiah saw clearly his own sin and the sin of the nation. He renews the covenant given to Moses, purifying the temple (15-17, 35b-36). In II Chronicles 30, he reestablishes the celebration of Passover, commemorating the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and which points to our deliverance even today through the blood of the lamb, Jesus Christ.

In 31:1 He removes the high places. Remember Jotham did not.

Hezekiah called for revival not only in Judah, but in Israel, the northern kingdom, as well.

Then in II Chronicles 31: 20-21 we have a summary of what Hezekiah’s heart was like and his actions that followed

1.     Doing what was good and right

2.     Sought his God in everything he did – in worship and obedience

3.     Worked wholeheartedly

Resulting in revival and prosperity.

His reign: Assyria took Israel captive during the sixth year of Hezekiah’s reign (II Kings 18:10). And four years later, Assyria comes to invade Judah. When Hezekiah heard of the invasion, he chose to rely on God for protection. At the first sign of the enemy, in preparation for battle, he chose to trust God and spoke to the people to encourage them to do the same.

Hezekiah stood firm in his faith…II Chronicles 32:  7-8 – proclaiming that there was greater power in God and he would fight their battles. And the people gained confidence.

Faith is tested by fear. Faith can give us the strength to face our fear when we know the one Jesus Christ who came to set us free. We need to stand firm in our faith when tested by fear.

In verses 10-19 the king of Assyria and his army intimidated Hezekiah and his people.and insulted the God of Israel. He taunted Hezekiah that his god would not rescue him.

Look at verse 32:20 shows us what to do in the face of fear, just as Hezekiah and Isaiah did – we need to cry out to God. Even the faithful can be attacked by the enemies of our soul – fear and unbelief being two of the greatest enemies. God will hear our cry.

In Isaiah 37:33-35 Isaiah gives Hezekiah the word of the Lord, that he must trust God- that God will protect the city of Jerusalem. Hezekiah listened and believed. How we need to do the same – believe the word of the Lord. We need to know God’s word and trust it.

God did exactly what he said he would do  - delivered Jerusalem through an angel and 185,000 of the Assyrians were killed in one night.(verse 35).

Isaiah’s message was heeded and brought deliverance to Judah. Isaiah was being faithful to his call and his heart must have been soaring as he walked with Hezekiah. The Lord saved them, took care of them, and highly regarded them (32:22)

Then Hezekiah encountered a personal battle recorded for us in Isaiah 38. He became ill. God heard Hezekiah’s prayer to bring healing to his body and spare his life. He gave him a miraculous sign and extended his life for 15 years. Isaiah 38:10-14 describes his anguish during his illness - feelings of desertion, discouragement and inability to see God. But as he acknowledges his healing, he proclaims that he will walk with God humbly – not letting his work of reform or healing go to his head. (Isaiah 38:15)

Yet in Isaiah 39 we see that Hezekiah started showing off his riches to the rising power of the known world, Babylon. Assyria was fading away in power. Hezekiah let down his guard and sought man’s approval or recognition, flaunting his riches. Does that happen to us? Do we flaunt some blessing or success to receive recognition or approval? We can let the enemy get a foothold in our lives, after standing firm in faith against a visible enemy, we can let something else just get a toe in the door.

God allows these enemies to test us and show us what is in our hearts, just as he did for Hezekiah  (II Chronicles32:31).

Apparently Hezekiah repented of this before he died. Thank God we have the conviction of the Holy Spirit showing us the sin in our hearts and its guilt and calling us to repentance!  

Isaiah 39:8  - Hezekiah was glad that the word of the Lord was good to him. His thinking was revealed…”He thought”, ‘There will be peace and security in my time.” Was he only looking to his times? What about the generations to come? Are we concerned for our children and their children or just that we escape judgment? How we need to pray for our children and their children and for each other’s children. What kind of sign will your life be for your children and their children?

Will we and our children and their children listen to the voice of truth from God or the voice of lies from our self and our enemies, becoming self-absorbed and self empowered. We need to store up His word in our hearts so that we do not sin against him. Will we listen to the voice of truth?

 

Our keepsake truth states a very important key. Isaiah 33:6 says the key to God being a sure foundation to us and to being that rich store of salvation, wisdom and knowledge, is the fear of the Lord.  Proverbs 1:7 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

The fear of the Lord, what is it?

        It is to stand in awe and reverence to him. He is an awesome God! Holy and righteous and just.

        It is to bow down and worship him and him alone – laying our crowns before him.

        To fear God will bring us blessing, not cursing, freedom not captivity.

 

Who will you seek? Who will you fear? God or your enemies?