2nd Chronicles 32:25-32, 2nd Kings 20:12-20, Isaiah 39:1-8; Hezekiah’s Proud Spirit

During the first fourteen years of his reign Hezekiah enjoyed a ministry that was significantly blessed by God. Sweeping away the evils that his father Ahaz had introduced into the religious life of Judah, Hezekiah rebuilt temple worship and saw what can only be described as an unprecedented revival among the people of God.

During his fourteenth year he experienced a two pronged attack on his Kingdom and on his life. The Assyrians moved in to conquor Jerusalem but God sent the enemy away humuliated, after the king and Isaiah the prophet prayed. In the same year he suffered a mortal illness but in response to prayer he was promised a further fifteen years.

Sadlly, the second half of Hezekiah’s ministry did not measure up to the high standards set during his earlier years. There was a going back, a lack of devotion and committment to the Lord. How are the mighty fallen! This tragic period of Hezekiah’s life receives only the briefest of mentions but in so doing he represents a monumental warning for every believer, regardless of our maturity or immaturity. No-one is immune to failure.

1: HIS SELFISHNESS

Hezekiah’s principal problem was that his “heart was lfted up”. Understandably he had become a national hero among the Jewish people because of his success against Assyria. Success, however, sometimes can be dangerous in that an inflated ego becomes a proud spirit. Hezekiah seized the glory for himself and in so doing forgot the goodness of the Lord that had loaded him with benefits.

All backsliding begins with a proud spirit. An understanding of grace is the greatest antidote for this selfish and arrogant spirit. Grace teaches us that we are impoverished hell deserving sinners, deserving of nothing but the wrath of God in the furnace of hell forever. Such a grasp of the Gospel will restrain selfish pride, which is struggling within, endeavouring to get the upper hand. Where pride wins the struggle, problems will develop.

The fact that a man like Hezekiah could fall in such a way, highlights the subtelty of this sin, brought about by our failure to remember the goodness of the Lord.

2: HIS SUSCEPTIBILITY

This spirit of pride which commenced silently and unchecked in Hezekiah’s soul made him susceptible to the overtures of the King of Babylon. While Assyria was the dominant world power, Babylon was on the rise. Eventually Babylon would overcome Nineveh and dominate the world stage. For now, however, the Babylonians were on a fact finding mission, interested in this little nation that had successfully asserted her independence where others had failed.

The timing of this visit by the representatives of the King of Babylon was significant. Hezekiah had recently recovered from his near death experience. The Babylonian ambassadors, therefore chose this time to enquire as to the welfare of Hezekiah. That the King of Judah should allow his guard to slip was inexplicable but understandably human. It is so easy to be complacent particularly when things are going well in life. During the tragedy, the trial, the illness or the problem we lean upon the Lord and stay close, but when basking in the joy of answered prayer the guard drops, we look inward with a self congratulatory applause rather than seeking the God of heaven. Satan knows our weaknesses and will easily exploit.

He exploited Hezekiah by stirring up an interest in the courts of Babylon in this rather obstinate, successful and prosperous Kingdom by the shores of the Mediterrenean. Hezekiah did more than receive these foreign vistors courteously, he did so with joy and excitement, according to Isaiah’s account. We went further still and showed them all of his riches, his armoury; indeed he hid nothing from these men. This would imply that this visit continued for some considerable length of time. It also portrays Hezekiah as a naive individual. He should have learned from his experience with Assyria that Babylon was a potential enemy. It is not good pratice to reveal everything to your enemy. But Hezekiah kept nothing back, he revealed all. At the very least showing off one’s riches can inflame jealousy in the hearts of others. At the very worst he was revealing the strengths and weaknesses of his kingdom to men who would report back to their King.

This was a most unwise response on the part of Hezekiah, it showed a singular lack of discernment. There is only one explanation, he wanted to impress others. The tendency to be flattered, to be ingratiated by others is an incredible attraction. It is one part of our human nature that we must constantly guard ourselves against. Flattery has led to adultery, to immoral relationships, to a love of money and wealth, to an over preoccupation with our appearance, to be overly interested in positions and accolades, to a failure to seek advice of others, especially our spiritual oversight, to a rebelliousness against the clear teaching of God’s Word – proud hearts are careless hearts. Pride exposes us completely to the will and the power of the enemy of our souls. A failure to see the sin of our own heart, to elevate self at the expense of God will prove to be the rocks upon which our testimony and our souls are shipwrecked:

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

1st Corinthians 9:22

3: HIS SERMON

Isaiah the prophet, prompted by God, saw the strange visitors from a foreign land, made his enquiries and then proounced his judgement. The word was solemn; that Babylon would strip the land of her treasures and that his sons would be enuochs within the Chaldean palace. The nation would pay a price fpr Hezekiah’s lapse of discretion and discernment. Hezekiah would not suffer this penalty but his family would in the future days.

And so the great King was taught that there is a greater King to whom he was accountable. This is a lesson that will keep our feet on the ground like no other. God sees, He hears, and He determines that those whom he loves will be chastened. Where we sow the seeds of pride, there will be a day of reaping.

In the church we are constantly sowing seeds for eternity, whether they are good or bad. The failings of one generation are accentuated in the next. The good work begun in one generation will be carried forward and completed in the next also. We are doing God’s work today because a previous generation served and prayed and bequeathed a legacy. Let us ensure that the legacy we bequeath to the children of today is a harvest of truth and not the tares of judgement and apostasy!

4: HIS SUBMISSION

There are two aspects of Hezekiah’s response to the word of God, which reveals a spirit of grace.

He was repentant of his sin:

But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the LORD came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah.

2nd Chronicles 32:25-26

THe words that are employed in both Kings and Isaiah, however, reveal the spirit of his repentance. Outward repentance in one matter but true repentance with a genuine and godly spirit operating within is quite different:

Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, Good is the word of the LORD which thou hast spoken. He said moreover, For there shall be peace and truth in my days.

Isaiah 39:8

He accepted the determination of God with humility and submission. He made no attempt to change the mind of God, he accepted that while he was forgiven his sin would have a reaping day.

Whatever sins we have committed there remains hope when we are humble enough to accept the Word of God and the conequences of our sin. These are signs of grace. We despair when the proud spirit persists.

The sequel to the story is the wild and profligate reogn of Manasseh, the son of Hezekiah. Born during the latter half of his Father’s reign Manasseh was not influenced by the great reforms, which he did not witness. The sins of Manasseh would bring an even greater judgement upon the nation.

Let us accept the Word with humility.

https://hopeinthevalley.co.uk/tag/chronicles/

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