The king of Assyria becomes a pretty big player in this next set of chapters, but we also see Isaiah for the first time here. After reading through these, I feel like Hezekiah is one of the more underrated Old Testament kings and his story of God’s helping is equally underrated.
First, Israel falls into the hands of Assyria. Events progress and the king of Assyria brings people in from other lands that aren’t familiar with Israel and Israel’s God. Then there’s this:
Therefore the Lord sent lions among them, which killed some of them.
A messenger comes to the king to explain that it is because the people who now inhabit the land don’t know the rules of this God and so he sends for a priest to teach them these laws. This is interesting for two reasons. First, Israel not following the laws they already knew about was the reason these people were in the land to begin with. Second, it’s like God figured that Israel not following Him was not a good reason for the new inhabitants to ignore Him.
This prompts them to fear the God of Israel, but they also worshiped and sacrificed to their original gods too.
Meanwhile in Judah, they made a near-total recovery, the king even having the high places to the other gods torn down and doing “what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done”. I find it interesting that they continue to refer to David as the father of these kings. He’s certainly an ancestor, but it’s not the word that we would use in conversational English, so it’s an interesting choice.
It is included that the people had begun to worship the bronze serpent staff that had been created in the time of Moses and this king, Hezekiah, had it destroyed. Then it goes on to retell the way the king of Assyria took the Israelites in Samaria which is followed by the king Assyria coming up against Judah. Hezekiah attempts to just pay him off, which appears to anger him. A group is then sent to basically challenge Judah and their faith that God will deliver them. Yep. They didn’t just try to take them in battle, they challenged that none of the other nations that they attempted to take were saved by their gods, what makes you think that yours will?
Hezekiah immediately sends messengers to find out what to do from the local prophet. This time it is Isaiah. Isaiah tells them God’s promise:
Behold, I will put a spirit in him, so that he shall hear a rumor and return to his land, and I will make him fall by the sword in his own land.
Hezekiah decides not to worry about it and then receives a warning not to listen to God, but he is faithful. He goes in prayer, imploring God not just to save them for themselves, but so “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.”
They did try to say He didn’t exist. Isaiah comes to see the king and delivers a beautiful message from God that He is going to take care of it. The next day, 185,000 Assyrians are found dead. No battle, no nothing. Just dead in the morning, I would assume in their beds or racks or wherever they slept. The king of Assyria leaves and was later killed by his own sons while worshiping his god.
Hezekiah gets sick and is assured by Isaiah that he will pass on soon after the events of the last chapter, but he goes again to God in prayer changes God’s mind about it. He decides to give Hezekiah 15 more years. Then there’s a visit from some Babylonians which prompts Isaiah to admit that God has already told him that they will eventually carry off everything that belonged to Judah, including some of Hezekiah’s sons.
I thought it was interesting that Hezekiah’s reaction was to say it was good because he was glad that there would be peace and security for the rest of his days. The next paragraph mentions his inclusion in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah and that he “slept with his fathers” and was succeeded by his son, Manasseh.